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Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) made a welcome return to form at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, qualifying a mere 0.011 off pole on Saturday to then go on to lead a large chunk of the race on Sunday.
A win and podium finish ultimately went astray for the nine-time World Champion in the latter stages of the inaugural race in Buriram but nonetheless, a solid P4 at the chequered flag - just 1.5 seconds from the victory - signals both he and the YZR-M1 are back heading in the right direction.
Free video: Rossi passes Marquez to take the lead
“This weekend, we improved a lot. Unfortunately, I was not strong enough for the podium but it’s a much better race than the last three or four,” confirmed ‘The Doctor’ after being 14 seconds off the win in Austria, 19 behind at Misano and 15 in Aragon. He continued: “I stayed in front, I started from the front row, we were competitive. Still not enough, at the end, Marquez and Dovizioso are a bit faster than us, and we need to understand if it was just the track that helped us, or the reality that we made a small step.”
Japan is the first of the three back-to-back flyaway races and it’s a track Rossi enjoys. So, after a trip back home to Italy, the 39-year-old will head to Motegi in good spirits: “I’m going back to Italy because I don’t want to stay around for 5 weeks. I’m too old. I need my bed, my television, my kitchen… I’ll go back, stay one week at home, train and we’ll start for the 3 in a row.
“I’m going to Japan quite optimistic to be strong, also there. Usually, Motegi is a good track for me, I like it. I hope that it will be dry because last year it was a nightmare, always wet. But we’ll see. We’ll see in the next three, not just in Japan because if it’s the reality that we improved the bike, we have to be competitive in the next three because now Honda and Ducati are stronger every race.”
2018 Thai Grand Prix: MotoGP™ Full Race
Thailand saw a tactical race play out, similar to what we witnessed in Brno and it’s something that Rossi compares to cycling: “The races change a lot. It’s a lot like cycling. Una Etapa, it’s one stage of cycling. It’s good to see because it’s a good fight and a lot of bikes together. But it’s like this; everybody waiting, someone starts to try, but those who are faster go together and after some laps slow down and another one tries, it’s a very strategic race.”
Can Rossi and Yamaha now push on from a positive Thai GP and go for glory in the final four rounds of the season?
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