Valentino Rossi put on a brace face as Marc Marquez increased his lead of the MotoGP World Championship at Aragon but admitted it would now be much more difficult to challenge for the title.
Rossi finished third behind his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo as Marquez bagged all 25 points and the Italian now faces a deficit of 52 points with only four rounds remaining.
The 37-year-old, who secured his fourth straight podium, had been reducing Marquez's advantage slightly for the last four events - but the Repsol Honda rider's victory has now given him a decisive cushion at the top of the standings after the 14th round.
“It was very difficult already with 43 [points disadvantage] and now it is a lot more difficult with 52. I don't want to think of the championship – we just need to work, to stay concentrated and in three weeks we will go to the overseas races and these circuits I always like a lot and usually our bike is strong there, so we have to fight and try to arrive on the podium and especially try to fight for the victory,” Rossi said.
“With the Yamaha, we don't win since Barcelona and it looks like the Honda and especially the Suzuki is growing up a lot. In the last races they won a lot of races with different riders and we need to understand and try to be competitive for the last part of the championship.
“The important thing is to make good races, try to not make mistakes, arrive on the podium and especially try to win. Fifty-two points are a lot; at the same time the fight for the second place is quite close with Lorenzo,” he added. “Also, Marquez and Lorenzo are very strong in the next races to the end and it is like now we are on the last part: we need to try to be competitive everywhere.”
Rossi focused on race pace during free practice at Aragon and led for a large part of the 23-lap race until he was hunted down first by Marquez and then Lorenzo.
“The beginning of the race was very fun, it was a great battle. It was good, we enjoyed, and I saw that Marquez had a moment on the T7 and he lost a little bit and I hoped that it was the front tyre or something wrong! When I was in front I had a good pace, I tried to push at the maximum but unfortunately it was not enough,” he said.
“We worked during the weekend to try to be stronger on the second half of the race but unfortunately it didn't work like we wanted. I did the maximum but Lorenzo in the second half of the race was stronger, was faster than me.
“He could catch me and overtake me and go in front. But I was there, from behind I can stay with him and I want to try to make the fight on the last lap but unfortunately in the T11 I did a mistake in braking. I braked and I was a little bit too fast so it was too dangerous and I decide to cut the corner and go wide because if not, we can crash and disaster,” added Rossi.
“Anyway, the podium is good here in Aragon because we always suffer a bit. For sure I wanted to try to arrive in front of my team-mate but this time he was stronger, but anyway these are important points.”
Rossi is now looking over his shoulder at team-mate Lorenzo, who has closed to within 14 points as the pair engage in battle for second place in the championship.