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“That’s the game, if you want to play it’s like that. If you don’t want it, you should stay at home.”
Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is a well-qualified voice when it comes to talking racing. After the incredible, no-holds-barred Australian GP - 27 laps of war - the rider from Tavullia shared his thoughts on the battle of the season, or decade...or, just maybe, one of the greatest of them all.
Rossi: "It was a classic Phillip Island race"
"They were very aggressive...the level of aggression and contact during the race…" began the Italian. “In the last few years, the level of aggression during races has raised a lot, especially with the young riders coming from Moto2. You either get angry or not, but that doesn’t change anything. That’s the game, if you want to play it’s like that. It’s a bit more dangerous but that’s the game and if you don’t want it, you should stay at home.”
One particular moment tested the theory that rubbing is racing to the limit – an encounter between Rossi and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team): "I saw a tyre appear in very little space and I was very curious who it was,” smiles the Italian. “I knew it was Zarco, Iannone or Marquez...the tyre rolled on my shoulder.”
With eight riders battling at the front, then four, and then a three-way fight for second, it was attack or be attacked. Rossi, like the others in the group, knew that well – and was pushing to try and follow Marquez at the front.
"I had good pace but I had to fight with Zarco and then Iannone arrived, two of the worst to fight against,” explains the Yamaha rider. “I remembered the hard fight with Iannone in 2015 and he beat me on the last lap, so I tried the maximum with Zarco like that! I think I had the pace to go with Marquez, but just when I thought I was in the perfect position, Iannone arrived like crazy at the hairpin and Marquez could go.”
View Zarco, Iannone and Rossi's battle in 360 OnBoard
It wasn’t to be as the fuse on the fight for the podium was lit once more, but Rossi says he enjoyed the race a lot – and that the podium was much more than simply twenty points.
“I’m so happy because I was competitive,” smiles the Italian. “I’ve had a difficult period coming back from a broken leg. It’s been difficult personally and when you have an injury like this, you have to work a lot and it’s not easy. It’s also important for Yamaha and all our team. It was an amazing race. A classic Phillip Island race. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Finally, one quote from the number 46 in parc ferme summed up a more humourous take on the race:
“All the riders in front were so aggressive, so you need to be even more stupid than them!"
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