Valentino Rossi described his mood as “very proud” and “very happy” after a heroic outing on Sunday, which saw him challenge the lead before settling for a well-earned fifth place just 24 days after suffering a double fracture to his right leg.

Having remarkably started from the front row, Rossi started brilliantly, and was at the very front of the action for the race’s first half amid a tense battle with Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso.

Only around the half-way mark did his pace ever so slightly relent, and despite his best efforts, Rossi could not hold the advancing Maverick Viñales at bay. A combination of the expected fatigue and the Yamaha M1’s inability to successfully deal with rear tyre wear ultimately held him back.

Still, considering his condition just ten days ago, when he was unsure if he could even take part this weekend, this was yet another sensational showing from the Italian, and one which drew praise from each of his top rivals. “A great race,” he called it.

“I’m very proud and very happy because one week ago I didn’t know if I am able to race,” said Rossi on Sunday evening. “But we work well. We made the right choice. Perhaps risking a bit but I want to try not to lose another race because the more races you lose, the more time you need to come back to your level.

“It was a good weekend because I always feel quite good with the bike – not 100 percent for sure, with some pain but I can ride in a good way. Starting from the front row yesterday was already great. I was very happy. I know that today in the race it would be more difficult.

“But, anyway, it was a great race. I did a good start and in the first laps I was strong. I can fight for the victory with Lorenzo and Marquez. In the second half of the race I know that I have to suffer. I was more tired than normal and I feel some pain.

“Also we suffer a bit with the degradation of the rear tyre. Anyway it was a good fight and to arrive in the top five is sincerely a result that I don’t expect, I don’t think I am able to achieve. It was very good.”

Had he expected to be so competitive through the 23 laps? “In this occasion I think that you have to have the mind open because you don’t know what’ll happen,” Rossi explained. “Maybe I go on the bike and I’m not able to ride. But at the same time if you don’t feel too much pain you have to try to push at the maximum, no?

“Every day it’s coming better. From Friday to Saturday there was a good step. From yesterday to today, no. I feel a bit tired and I have some pain but it’s normal. Anyway I can ride at a good level, and I am happy because I did a good start and I ride well during the race.

“I am very upset for the injury from the first moment, especially to not race in Misano. I wanted to fight for the championship until the end but unfortunately shit happens. Now I’m more happy that I’m back. But I’m especially more happy for my life because in 25 days I can make already quite a normal life, I can walk and make my stuff. This is so good.”

This was Rossi’s second chance to sample the M1 in race trim since a much-hailed one-day test at Misano, where he and Viñales put a raft of set-up changes and parts through their paces.

Racing with the ‘2018 prototype’ chassis, the 38-year old felt an improvement. But the M1’s inability to successfully manage tyre wear frustratingly made itself known later in the race. “We are quite competitive but unfortunately we still suffer too much the degradation of the rear tyre,” Rossi said. “I think that if I was fully fit I could arrive earlier to the flag, some seconds earlier. But anyway the second half of the race is a problem. At this moment Ducati and Honda are better. We have to work.”

Rossi now has two weeks to recover his condition further before the exhausting flyaway triple-header. From Aragon, the Italian’s goal will be to increase his fitness levels ahead of the 15th round of the year at Motegi.

“Now the work continue because I have two weeks that will be very important for my leg. I want to try to work for arrive in Motegi quite fit. For sure I won’t be at the maximum but I think I can arrive in a good condition. Also, after Motegi it’s three races in a row. It’s a big stress for my body, for my leg so we have to try to arrive at a good level.”


Loading Comments...