A punishing Japanese MotoGP weekend for Movistar Yamaha came to a painful end for Valentino Rossi when he highsided out of the race.

The Italian star, who had already 'tested' his healing leg with a fall on Saturday, was launched into a much bigger accident when the rear grip issues that have haunted the team this season bit him with a vengeance at Turn 8.

Visibly in pain as he sat down in a small room at the Motegi circuit on Sunday night, Rossi explained:

"It was a big crash this time. Also yesterday, but today more. Today Turn 7, yesterday Turn 8. It was a highside again. I was behind [Aleix] Espargaro and tried to not give up because I can keep his pace, but on the left I have zero grip. It was like riding on ice.

"With the constant throttle the rear [slid]. It was very fast. When I realised what was happening I was already flying through the air. So very lucky that the leg is okay. I have pain everywhere. But not a lot, so this is good."

Rossi began the race from twelfth, after a slick tyre gamble in qualifying, and was in ninth place when the accident occurred, on lap 7 of 24.

"We have been struggling a lot all weekend. Was very, very difficult because we never had good grip, especially on the rear. So we need to try to understand why," he said.

"For me, now the match between our bike and the Michelin rear tyre gives a lot of problems, in all the conditions. And especially in the wet.

"So we need to understand the way and try, because during this weekend it was always very cold - not hot – but we had all kinds of wet conditions. Too much water, not enough water, but we were struggling always. Very difficult. We need to understand."

Pressed on the tyres and whether some in the Yamaha team feel they have become softer at some stage this season, Rossi replied:

"For me, compared to last year, very difficult to understand when you speak with Michelin. But me, when I ride the bike, I have a different feeling like the tyre is more soft and we suffer. But this is an idea. I don’t know if it's true."

Told that Michelin said there has not been any change, the #46 added:

"So for sure from the bike is different. If on the bike is different, something is different. But is also difficult to understand because anyway on the Honda and Ducati, the tyre works, so it is our problem."

Team-mate Maverick Vinales stayed on two-wheels but suffered the same problems as Rossi and could only finish ninth.

Both will doubtless be hoping for better weather at next weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.


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