Valentino Rossi has explained his disastrous French Grand Prix, which saw the Italian change bikes three times, crash, receive a ride-through penalty and finish outside of the points.

To make matters even worse, the Italian's defeat meant that he lost his chance to fight for a 100th grand prix victory next time out in front of his home fans at Mugello and has also lost the 2009 world championship lead.

Starting from fourth position on the wet but rapidly drying track, Rossi took three laps to work his way up to second behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate and eventual race winner Jorge Lorenzo

Sensing that he was struggling for pace, and aware that those who pit early for bike swaps unusually benefit the most, Rossi was the first to dive into the pits for his dry weather bike, on lap five of 28.

"I had difficulties from the start today and I really could not ride my bike to its best," he said. "Already by the fourth lap I felt that I was quite slow and that I couldn't ride as I wanted. I decided to change bikes early because usually this strategy - being among the first to change the bike - pays off."

The change went smoothly, but Rossi was soon caught out by the slippery track and lowsided from his M1.

"Of course I knew that I had to warm the tyres up a little bit but I crashed anyway in that corner because at that point the track was still wet and I just didn't ride into it in a calm enough manner," confessed The Doctor.

After what seemed like an age, Rossi was able to remount the damaged motorcycle and bring it back to the pits, where he switched back to his wet bike.

In order for this to be allowed, Rossi had to keep one wet tyre on the bike, but the pit lane speed limiter wasn't engaged and he was forced to return two laps later to serve a ride-through penalty.

"Luckily I was able to make it back to the pits [after the crash] and I changed again, but the rule says that if you change the bike again then you have to use one wet tyre, and so this is what we did," he confirmed. "When I started that time, the pit-limiter on my bike was not on and so I was given a ride-through for speeding, but by that time it was too late for our race anyway."

The six-time MotoGP world champion's final visit to the garage came on lap 11, when he changed back onto his repaired dry bike, but by then he was some two laps adrift and could only finish 16th and last at the chequered flag.

Prior to Sunday's race, Rossi had scored points at every race since Valencia 2007.

"We've had problems throughout the entire weekend with the set-up of the bike and today I was just hoping that I could stay with the riders in front and get some important points for the championship," said the #46. "Now we go to Mugello, my home GP, where I will perhaps be even more motivated than usual!"

Rossi has now lost the world championship lead by one point to Lorenzo, with Ducati's Casey Stoner equal second with Valentino after four of the 17 rounds.

Team manager Davide Brivio defended Rossi's early pit stop.

"I don't think that the decision to stop early was wrong, and it paid off for [second placed] Melandri among others, but unfortunately Valentino crashed and that, coupled with the ride-through penalty, was the end of our challenge today," he said.

"This type of race is always a gamble; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't and today it really didn't for us! Luckily we're still just one point off the top of the championship and we will restart our challenge again at the next race," he vowed.

Rossi has won every Italian Grand Prix at Mugello since 2002.

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GO GO GO JORGE!!!!!!!!