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Yamaha defends Rossi tyre choice.

Fiat Yamaha has defended its decision to send Valentino Rossi out on a hard compound front slick, which looked to cost the Italian his eighth home Mugello victory in a row.

Starting fourth on the grid, the reigning six-time MotoGP world champion made steady progress in the wet opening laps, taking the lead on lap 8 of 23. Although soon passed by countryman Marco Melandri, Rossi was still holding a close second place when he pitted for his dry bike.

The top four riders at the time - Melandri, Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner - all pitted at the end of lap 10.

Stoner returned to action with medium compound slicks front and rear on his Ducati, while Lorenzo's side of the Yamaha garage went for a medium front/hard rear combination. However, team-mate Rossi returned with hard compound slicks both front and rear.

The hard front slick had been the expected choice had the full race been run in the dry, but took much longer to build temperature on the damp track - while the reduced dry distance meant endurance wasn't such a critical factor.

The end result was that Stoner got quickly up to speed, overtaking the three he had pitted with to sit second behind Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso - who had pitted two laps earlier - by the end of his 'out lap'.

By contrast, Rossi dropped back to sixth and, although he went on to set the fastest lap of the race, on lap 21 of 23, victory was already out of reach and the 30-year-old had to settle for third position, 2sec behind Stoner and 1sec from Lorenzo.

“Of course I am disappointed not to win again in Mugello but seven times in a row is not so bad and the important thing is that I made it onto the podium,” said Rossi. “It's a very special moment in Mugello, with all the fans below, and I would have been very sad to have missed that!

“It was a very hard race today and once again the weather was a problem for us, we're very unlucky in these half-and-half races and I think this is my first podium in one."

Rossi's first lap out of the pits on slicks was a 2min 13.483sec - compared with 2min 6.761sec for Stoner and 2min 10.526sec for Lorenzo. Rossi admitted that the front tyre choice had been 'a mistake'.



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