Valentino Rossi's hopes of a podium or even victory challenge in the Malaysian MotoGP were washed away by a pre-race rain storm.

The Italian initially remained cautiously optimistic, only to strike the same chronic rear-grip problems that had ended in a highside at Motegi two weekends' ago.

"You know, I was worried but not desperate [when I saw the rain] because Friday in the wet I had some problems, but I was sixth and sincerely we modify the bike a lot since then and I was optimistic it would work," said Rossi.

"But unfortunately I had exactly the same problem as Friday. We don’t have any grip. It is very difficult to ride the bike, also very dangerous, and you have the clear feeling that if you try a little bit more you crash. Like I did in Motegi."

This time the Movistar Yamaha rider reached the finish, spending the early laps fighting with the KTMs in eleventh before gathering late pace to cross the line in seventh, 30-seconds from the winning Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.

The Doctor set his best lap of the race on lap 19 of 20, later than all but Cal Crutchlow.

"It's quite frustrating because it looks like in the first 10-12 laps I always have the same pace. I wasn't able to improve. So this bike in the wet is very difficult to ride. Is impossible. We don’t have grip. And already to go like this, you risk very much," Rossi explained.

"It's a shame because we need a good result to confirm [the podium in] Phillip Island. And I think that in the dry I was competitive - all the weekend I was quite strong. So I could do a good race I think.

"Unfortunately it rained, but you have to be ready in all the conditions. I hoped to do a step compared to Motegi. But in reality, no. So it remains very difficult, this bike."

Meanwhile, Tech 3 Yamaha's star rookie Johann Zarco finished on the podium for the second time this season with the rain-tolerant 2016 M1, also choosing the soft rather than medium rear tyre.

"For me, for Zarco it is a lot better if he continues to keep his bike next year! I say this for him!" Rossi joked.

Rossi's factory team-mate Maverick Vinales finished in ninth place, suffering the same rain issues as the #46.

Vinales is now confirmed as finishing third in the 2017 standings, with Rossi holding a 12-point lead over Dani Pedrosa for fourth place heading into next month's Valencia finale.


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