Rossi reels in Dovi with P4 at the Twin Ring

‘The Doctor’ now sits just nine points behind his compatriot in the Championship...

The Motul Grand Prix of Japan saw Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) pick up a second consecutive fourth-place finish and it was a result that saw him close the gap to Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in the Championship – the latter crashing out of P2 with two laps to go.

“No it’s not bad, the fourth place is not bad,” confirmed Rossi, who looked set for a podium challenge in the early stages of the Japanese GP, but in the end, it would prove to be too difficult. “I think we worked well because today from this morning we make another step and I feel better with the bike. So, I started quite optimistic, trying to fight for the podium but unfortunately, the two Suzukis and also Crutchlow were faster than me. I tried to not give up and made no mistakes, try to and arrive at the end with a good pace but our potential is this. More this than Thailand unfortunately.”

Thailand saw both he and teammate Maverick Viñales keep tabs on Dovizioso and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) for the duration and Motegi provided a chance to see if the changes they had made were a step in the right direction, or whether Buriram was a one-off:

“In Thailand, the changes we had were very small,” affirmed ‘The Doctor’. “In Thailand, we had some different effect like the temperature or the hard tyres that help us to stay close because in reality, we never fight for the victory, me and Maverick, we just stayed there without attack. Here is more normal I think. It looks like the others are a bit stronger.”

However, Phillip Island is up next, a venue where the number 46 picked up a P2 finish in the last two seasons, with his last win coming there in 2014. Can the 39-year-old go well in Australia to keep the pressure on Dovi for P2 in the overall standings?

“I hope so, last year was great, I finished second. We will try, Phillip Island is a particular weekend. A very strange track, it’s a bit different but we’ll see.” 

And what are Dovi's thoughts on Rossi closing the gap in the standings? "Now I have to look at second position because Valentino is always there. He’s not so strong this year but at the end, he always make the points, he’s the fastest Yamaha rider and we have to be careful about him."

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