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It wasn’t the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France rostrum finish that Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi was looking for on Sunday in Le Mans.
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In 15 mins: French Grand Prix MotoGP™ highlights
Before this weekend, the 40-year-old had four podium finishes in the last five years at the French layout and both he and Yamaha arrived hopeful of a repeat result. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite pan out the way they hoped as Rossi took the chequered flag in fifth – a tenth behind fourth-place Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and less than a second off third-place Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team).
“At the end, the dry race is always good because you can understand your true potential. We arrive here optimistic that we can get on the podium but unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough,” examined ‘The Doctor’ after the race. “I was not far; I was close to the Ducatis at the end of the race, but it was not enough. They were a little bit faster, so we need to improve, we need to work.”
But next up for Rossi is the perfect place to try and top up his 2019 podium tally: Mugello. The Italian GP is always a special weekend for Rossi but he knows he and Yamaha will need to be “very, very fast” if they are to challenge for the podium and more in two weeks’ time.
“Mugello is a special weekend, a special race for all the Italian riders. It’s a fantastic atmosphere. Always a little bit tricky to manage with all the fans but anyway, it’s great. We need to try our best to be competitive there, it’s a track that I like but it will be hard because everybody is fast. So, we need to try the maximum. To be on the podium we will have to be very, very fast.”
The gap to Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in the Championship now sits at 23 points. Cutting that disadvantage will be a challenge at Mugello, but one Rossi will no doubt be relishing.