Valentino Rossi came within a few corners of completing what would have been a first MotoGP podium sweep by VR46 riders, at their local Misano race.

After holding a top three place for the entire race, Rossi lost out to Joan Mir and thus had to watch from the pits as his Academy riders Franco Morbidelli and Francesco Bagnaia celebrated on the rostrum.

"I’m very happy from one side, unfortunately it was a great shame for my podium," Rossi said. "To arrive on the podium today here in Misano with Franco and Pecco would have been something unbelievable… like a race at the ranch!

"We are very proud of our riders. The Moto2 race was unforgettable for us. It was difficult to manage with the heart when Luca and Bez fighting. But it’s incredible, the work of the team. Also to see Franco and Pecco arrive first and second in MotoGP was great."

Rossi spent 20 of the 27 laps behind only the Petronas Yamaha of Morbidelli, before Bagnaia's Ducati blasted through at the fast Turn 11.

Alex Rins then looked set to deny Rossi of the podium, but the Italian was able to keep the Suzuki rider at bay. However, Rins then fell victim to his own team-mate Mir, who went on to outbrake Rossi.

"I made a small mistake and Mir was very strong in that moment, he did very good lap times in the last part of the race. At the end he was able to overtake me, which is a great shame with just 2km to go," Rossi explained.

"But it remains a good weekend and a good race for me. I rode well and was always strong.

"During the race I suffered a little with the front and the rear. Franco was better than me and he was able to pull away.

"I think that we can improve three or four things for next week, when we‘ll have another chance. This makes me even more happy, because we can try again.

"It was also a great feeling to have fans at the track for the first time this season. More or less everyone is yellow! Not everybody but the major part. It was great. Thanks for the support because it’s always special."

Rossi is now tied on points with Monster Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales for fifth in the world championship, 18 points behind new leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).

While Rossi switched to the medium rear tyre on the grid, Vinales - who had qualified on pole - was the only rider to stay on the hard rear and struggled to sixth in the race.

"Depends very much from the DNA of the rider. Maverick is great in the qualifying. Also during the tests, he’s always able to do the hot lap. I always suffer compared to Maverick in qualifying. He’s more or less always in front of me. But usually, my best performance is Sunday afternoon. This is very good for me," Rossi said, when asked to comment on Vinales' race day woes.

"But in this case [today] for example, there is a technical difference. Maverick started with the hard rear tyre. I also wanted to start with the hard. It worked very well. The medium was more of a risk in today’s race. But ten mins before I speak with my team, I change and put the medium. For me this made the difference today."

Rossi will be back on track for Tuesday's official test, followed by opening practice for the second Misano event on Friday.

 

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