Valentino Rossi's MotoGP rivals have hailed an 'incredible' injury comeback by the Italian.

After returning on Friday, just 22 days after breaking his tibia and fibula in a training accident, Rossi stunned with third in Saturday's qualifying - his best ever grid start at the Spanish circuit - despite doctors predicting he would be out for 30-40 days.

More heroics followed in the race, where the Movistar Yamaha rider and his recently pinned leg held second place until the middle stages, in the wheeltracks of leader Jorge Lorenzo

Rossi went on to finish fifth, 5.8s from victory but just half-a-second behind team-mate and pole sitter Maverick Vinales.

"It was already incredible to be here after this kind of fracture. I think nobody had done it," said race winner Marc Marquez, who needed several attempts to pass Rossi in the race.

"Also incredible that he finished only five-tenths behind Vinales, with the same bike, and with this injury. His talent makes the difference I think."

Team-mate and runner-up Dani Pedrosa, who felt Rossi could have given him a little more room when he slipstreamed past the Italian on lap 16 of 23, added:

"For sure, like Marc said, already incredible to be recovered that fast from that kind of injury.

"Obviously every injury, as I know, is different. Even though it's the 'same' one, sometimes you heal much slower and you don’t know why. And sometimes you heal way faster. But for sure his determination to be here was very important.

"Yesterday in qualifying he was super fast and today at the beginning of the race he was in the front group, fighting for the lead. So really surprising."

Third place Lorenzo, no stranger to early injury comebacks, stated:

"It's been impressive, all the weekend. The way he qualified yesterday, but especially the way he recovered. It's not the same, a body of 38 years old and a body of 15 years old.

"I think he felt better day-by-day and, as Marc said, he finished just a few tenths from Vinales - at a track that is not one of his [Rossi's] favourites. Very impressive."

Vinales, who came close to suffering an unlikley defeat at the hands of his team-mate, stated: "He was as strong as ever, especially in the race. There's not a lot to mention but he did a really good race.

"When I saw him at the front I thought, for sure, that he would win the race. If he's strong at the beginning I could imagine him being good at the end because no-one gets as strong as Valentino at the end of races.

"But he started to drop his pace; he was spinning a lot. We both had the same problem so for sure we have to improve that on the bike."

Title contender Dovizioso, who finished two places behind Rossi, said:

"I'm impressed about the start he did, he was so aggressive and really fast on the hard tyre. For sure that bike worked very well, but looks like they have a problem about the drop of the tyre and at the end also Valentino was struggling a lot, similar to me.

"But he did a great race in his condition. I'm not impressed about the speed he had, because if you don't have a lot of pain the speed doesn't change. But to be able to risk - in the fighting and with the grip we had today, where it was so easy to make a mistake - I'm really impressed about that."

Despite his efforts, Rossi has lost fourth in the world championship to Pedrosa by two points, but now has three more weeks to recover before the next event in Japan.



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