MotoGP Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi rescued what could have been considered a second consecutive disaster of a race weekend as he finished second in Phillip Island in the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix after qualifying in 15th on the grid.
The nine times world champion was caught out during a wet Free Practice 3 as he was one of many factory team riders who opted for the wrong tyres at the wrong time. He finished outside of the top 10 which meant he had to use Qualifying 1 to progress through to Qualifying 2 where he could challenge for a start on the front four rows of the grid; all he had to do was finish in the top two.
A last minute challenge from several riders, and a late tyre choice from Rossi , where he switched to intermediates too late , meant he was only fifth quickest in Qualifying 2 which in turn meant he was to start the race from 15th on the grid. Race day was dry, after rain storms tormented them the two days previous, and the morning warm-up session was the first dry opportunity for the riders to test the various compounds of the Michelin Power Slicks ahead of the race.
Rossi got poor start and lot time as he tried to recover positions from his fifth row start. After passing some of the independent team riders who put up one hell of a fight, he surged through the pack and as did his future teammate Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who did the same. Eventually he found himself at the front behind Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) who gained the lead after the newly crowned 2016 champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) crashed out at turn four.
Rossi attempted to hunt down the Brit, but he reacted to the pressure from the Italian, and had to push to avoid crashing on the hard cpmpound font he had opted for. Rossi was on the soft front however was unable to catch him. He finished the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in second; 15th to second just proves why he is one of the ‘greatest of all time’ (abbrevisted to G.O.A.T).
The 20 points Rossi gained in Australia, while his teammate Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) finished sixth claiming 10 points, means he has extended his lead over him by 10 points in the championship where they are battling for second. Rossi is currently on 216 points whereas Lorenzo is now 24 points behind on 192 points.
Rossi explained how on the morning of the race they “discovered they had a good pace in good conditions” and he said, “Step by step I came back.” Reflecting ont start of the race he said that “at the beginning” he found the first lap to be “very funny”; he described how he tried to catch Crutchlow but found he was “too fast and too strong”.
Talking about he enjoyed the first 10 laps a lot he spoke of how Crutchlow was his target and tat he “thought he could beat him” as he found during the warm-up that he “was a bit stronger”. When Rossi witnessed Marquez crashed ahead of him he thought he “might be able to win and tried” however he found “unfortunately Cal was too fast”.
Complimenting the Brit who made history after taking his first double MotoGP win in over 35 seasons, Rossi said, “He is always very fast in Phillip Island and interprets this track in the maximum way.”
Rossi admitted how he found that “the second half of the race was more difficult” and that he “couldnt make a move”, however he knew, “This race is what we needed after the mistake in Motegi and the bad day we had yesterday;” a day he described as “the most frustrating day of the season”.
He felt that race day in Australia was “a very positive day for the team and Yamaha” and that it turned out to be “a positive race”. He finished by saying, “Congratulations to Cal and thank you to all my team, to all the guys who did a great job.”