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Back on track: Rossi makes podium return

First top-3 finish since Qatar for the Yamaha rider, who moves up to fourth in the Championship

As the saying goes, form is temporary, but class is permanent. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) returned to the podium at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, with the ‘Doctor’ reaching the podium from P9 on the grid, keeping Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) at bay in the final laps.

Rossi: "It's great to have a podium before Mugello"

The Yamaha rider started ninth on the grid, the same position he started at in 2011, the year he also finished third in the race, and his worst qualifying at Le Mans since 2000. But by the time the field had completed lap one, Rossi was already up to sixth. The two crashes at the front pushed Rossi into podium contention a few laps later – riding fourth, he made his move over Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) on lap 13, holding off any threat from the chasing Miller.

The Italian had not finished on the podium since Qatar, and welcomed a return to the rostrum. “it was a great start, in the first laps I was able to overtake and I was in the good group. The positive thing was that I was fast, I did a good lap time and I have a good pace, this is very important. It’s also an important result because we come in a difficult period in the technical side of the Yamaha, so we hope that work hard to improve the bike.”

Looking ahead to his home round in Mugello, Rossi admits that he doesn’t expect it to be easy for him to be at the front. “I’m a bit worried because historically this track is usually great for the Yamaha. This year with a great race and a good setting and no mistakes, we arrive third behind Honda and Ducati. I think at the next race track it won’t be very easy. But we have to be strong, stronger than normal and wait for help from Japan.”

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Coincidentally, by the time Round 6 arrives, it will also be ten years since his last Mugello win: Rossi will be eager to mark the occasion in the same way.