Nine times world champion, Valentino Rossi pulled it out of the bag at the 2017 MotoGP season opener in Qatar when he finished third at the Losail International Circuit collecting a double podium for team, Movistar Yamaha.
Rossi struggled to find his pace
The Italian did not have the best start to the weekend as he appeared to struggle to match the pace of his new teammate, Vinales, during Free Practice. Qualifying was cancelled due to rain which meant that the grid positions were determined using combined Free Practice times which meant he started from the front of the fourth row in 10th.
When the race finally got underway, as a rain shower hit and threw everyone into doubt about whether the race should run or not, Rossi was immediately able to gain three places. He was in seventh behind Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who he was able to catch and try and pass initially on lap three. Pedrosa retaliated, but Rossi tried again on the following lap and this time was successful.
Rossi pursued his competitive teammate
He continued on in pursuit of his teammate who was working to catch the leaders ahead of him. Rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) led initially for seven laps, but unfortunately crashed out placing Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in the lead. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) was chasing him and fending off Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), before the Italian came in to contact with the rear of Marquez’s Honda and crashed out on lap 11.
It meant that Rossi was now up to fourth by default however after a quick battle for third place with Marquez, Rossi was able to steal the final podium spot from the 2016 MotoGP champion. All Rossi could do then was sit and wait. Riding closely behind Vinales and Dovizioso who battled it out for first, he remained in with a chance of definitely benefiting should one or both make an error.
Rossi finishes third in Qatar
That didn’t happen though. Instead Vinales won on his debut for Movistar Yamaha in Qatar. Dovizioso finished second and Rossi ended the 2017 MotoGP season opener in third; collecting 16 championship points in the process. It means that heading to Argentina for the second round of the championship, Rossi is third in the 2017 standings also.
Over the winter, Rossi appears to have lost a lot of weight; weight that he did not need to use. Also sporting a new haircut, it is clear that the Italian is more than determined than ever to secure his tenth world title.
Rossi reveals his secret
Rossi revealed, “My secret is my team, it’s Yamaha!” He spoke of how they “never give up”, that they “always keep up [their] concentration”, and that he “always feels the support and the trust from all the guys around”.
Discussing their prospects during the 2017 season he said, “We know our potential and we know we have a great bike and race rider.” During the race when he found himself in the top five he said to himself, “This is OK” but he felt that “arriving on the podium is something even better”.
Rossi spoke of how he was “very happy to start the season like this” as he feels that “the podium is always better” and he explained how it came “after a difficult period”. He said, “We have to continue like this” as he knew that the “result is very good” for the team, and for their “feeling” and also “for the technical side” as he after the race he felt that they “now understand a lot of things”.