It wasn’t a first win since the 2017 Dutch GP that Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was looking for, but a second consecutive P2 finish of the season at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas confirms he’s firmly in the 2019 title hunt.
‘The Doctor’ held second in Sunday’s Americas GP race before runaway leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) crashed out on Lap 9, with it soon becoming a race for the win between Rossi and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The latter would eventually go on to claim his maiden MotoGP™ victory to continue Rossi’s win wait, but the Italian was still more than pleased with the result in Austin.
“Yeah, I’m very very sorry because today was a good chance for the win. And it’s a long long time since I won so I’m very frustrated from this,” began Rossi. “But from the other side, I try. I try everything, I did a very good race, I stayed in front and also after the Marc crash I continued to push. But at the end my problem was Rins was a bit stronger than me. I tried the maximum, I did some mistakes unfortunately, maybe if I do everything perfect I can try to attack him but he was a bit better than me in the last laps.
“So, mixed feelings. From one side, sorry for the victory but from the other side it’s a great result after a great weekend, I was strong. 20 points for the Championship, the Championship is very open, but especially it looks like we are good this year, we are strong, the bike has improved. These are the most important things because maybe we can fight a lot of times.”
Rossi reveals his aim was to simply try and stay with Marquez, who had clawed out a three second advantage before crashing: “Yeah my strategy was to try and stay with him. I know that he was pushing to go away because he was faster. Unfortunately he was a bit faster than me but anyway he was there. I was concentrating on him, concentrating on him to remain strong and when I see him crash I say… now what happens? I don’t expect, because he won a lot of times. But you know, when you are on the limit it can happen.”
So where was the Suzuki of Rins stronger than Rossi? “Rins was a bit faster than me in braking, he was good in acceleration and he ride very well. He did some good lines to avoid the bumps,” explained the 40-year-old, but mistakes also cost Rossi the chance to fight back that little bit harder.
“But anyway if I make everything perfect I could have tried, but unfortunately I did a mistake at Turn 11 – he arrived wide but I arrived wider than him and I lose. On the last lap I did a very good lap, I tried the maximum but I didn’t want to try crazy because 20 points are important. He was a bit stronger, it’s like this.”
It may have been like this today, but another superb performance from Rossi heavily indicates that it’ll be him back on that top step in the near future. And with the European leg of the season now on the horizon, tracks the nine-time World Champion knows like the back of his hands, Rossi sounds confident he and Yamaha can challenge for the top step regularly.
“Now we arrive in a very hot moment of the Championship. We have one week stop and then after its ‘bam bam bam bam’, like this to the Sachsenring. We are good, we are strong and we work well, it looks like the bike improved a lot. For sure we have some areas to work, we need the time, but I think we can be competitive. We start from Jerez, that is the worst one because in the last years we always suffer. So I’m very curious to see if we are strong in Jerez.”
Rossi and his competitors will be at the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto from 3-5 May. And as Rossi says, it’s a track he’s struggled at since winning there in 2016, but is a repeat of that win on the cards?