Valentino Rossi described himself as "very, very sad" after another disastrous weekend for Yamaha in Spain in which he could place no higher than eighth in the Grand Prix of Catalunya.

Despite his formidable ability in low grip situations, and a steady start to the 25-lap slog with a consistent pace, Rossi soon found his opportunities severely limited by rear traction, or a lack thereof.

The issues were, he said, similar to those he faced in Jerez, another circuit with an aged, decrepit surface with track temperatures in the region of 50 degrees. Rossi could not drive off the corners with excessive spin an ever-looming issue.

In crippling heat, the 2017 Yamaha M1 understeers more, he explained, making turning a good deal more difficult, and increasing stress on an already overworked rear tyre.

"So, we are very very sad about this weekend, about result, about the race," said Rossi, 20 seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso at the flag. "Because first of all is one of my favourite tracks and we expect to do a good race, also because last year was a great race and I won.

"But we have the small worry that we can suffer here like in Jerez, and it's very strange that in the two races that last year I won this year are the worst two. So we were a bit worried and during the weekend we try a lot of different things but unfortunately we were never fast enough, and today the race was very, very difficult.

"For me, the main problem is that the bike has more understeer and after the problem becomes very big for the rear tyre. At the end, the main problem is the rear traction, especially on the right, because already after ten laps I was very very much in trouble and I had to slow down very much.

"I tried everything but anyway it was impossible to exit fast from the corner. But for me, coming more for the lack of turning that I feel with this bike from the first time that I try.

"I always suffer, sometimes more, sometimes less. So for tomorrow we can have some stuff that is not the 2016 bike but maybe something that can be interesting for improve."

Rossi and team-mate Maverick Vi?ales' shared predicament was made all-the-more puzzling by the speed of satellite Yamaha duo Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger. Both Tech 3 men placed fifth and six, seven seconds ahead of the Italian.

Asked how this could be, Rossi was clear in his analysis. "It's possible because the old bike, under my point of view, turns better, and stresses less the rear tyre - and here like in Jerez they are faster than us," he said.

Suddenly, the Grand Prix of the Americas seems very long ago. In four races Rossi has gone from championship leader to trailing team-mate Vi?ales by 28 points, his run of races off the podium stretching to four.

Still the topsy-turvy nature of the championship, and the fact one rider is not consistently performing at an exceptional level, is a source of great hope for a man chasing a historic tenth world title.

"It was already good to take some points and it's a great shame also that I lose two positions in the championship but anyway it's still very tight and we are five riders in 28 points, but also Zarco and Lorenzo are not very far," he said.

"Now we have to concentrate on the future because tomorrow we'll have an important test and it's positive that we can make the test in this track, where we struggle. We hope to improve the speed and the feeling with the bike."

By Neil Morrison

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