Valentino Rossi says he is 'sorry beyond measure' at being unable to complete the final round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship season so that he could partake in a 'lap of honour' for Marco Simoncelli, but suggests the fact they remained tied-on-points is a fitting tribute instead.
Rossi was among four riders bundled out on the opening corner, the Italian swept off his bike when Alvaro Bautista collided into him, Nicky Hayden and Randy de Puniet.
A dismal end to what has been a difficult first year at Ducati for Rossi, the multiple champion was more concerned at being unable to fully honour his friend at the end of the race.
Nonetheless, with the pair tied on 139 points – Simoncelli ahead in sixth overall by virtue of his second place in Australia -, Rossi feels that this is an appropriate way for him to end the year.
“There's really nothing to say about today, other than that I'm sorry beyond measure not to have been able to put on Sic's T-shirt for the lap of honour. It's truly a shame. I started well and all the conditions were in our favour for having a nice race, but we were unfortunate and received no points here either. We finish the season tied with Sic, with him ahead of me in the standings. I guess that's my tribute to him!”
A frustrating conclusion for Ducati as a whole, Hayden was also out on the spot, though he was still able to end the season in eighth overall, just seven points behind his high-profile team-mate.
“I felt some riders coming up the inside really fast as we approached Turn 1. Then something happened and it was just the domino effect—race over in the first corner. I'm okay other than my hand being pretty sore. It's unfortunate.
“One of our bike's strengths is generating heat in the tyres, and that's what you need on a cold, wet track like this. Already on the warm-up lap, the bike felt good. It's easy to say now, but I honestly feel like we could have put up a decent fight today and had some fun.”