The MotoGP legend was gracing the Italian track behind the wheel, and was greeted by hordes of his adoring fans in his home country, but could not deliver a memorable result.

He will have a second chance in another sprint race on Sunday.

Rossi, aged 43, had first dramatically spun during qualifying but managed to continue to secure P16 in a 27-car field.

He drove an impressive stint and made up three places but, due to an unfortunate contact which damaged the bodywork, the #46 Audi had to retire while Rossi’s teammate Fred Vervisch was in control.

The race was won by Rossi’s fellow Team WRT drivers Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor.

Misano is only 15km from Tavullia, Rossi's hometown. He has won three MotoGP races at Misano.