For the first time since the 2018 German GP, Valentino Rossi has returned to the podium in Argentina, taking second place to celebrate 23 years of top level racing. And the nine-time World Champion took the time to share his thoughts on the weekend’s action.
Speaking about getting back on the podium, Rossi said: “I am very happy because I was not on the podium since Sachsenring. A lot of time has passed. It’s been a good weekend for my team and for the Yamaha. Since Friday I was ahead and today I expected to have been faster. But with more temperature I had more difficulties. It was a very nice race and I had fun, because I was ahead, unlike Qatar, it was another life.
About the race, he said: “I came out thinking that there could be six riders fighting for the podium, and in the end it was seven, because Franco (Morbidelli) has also gotten involved, and I knew he wanted to get on the podium. I managed to get in front of me because from the beginning I felt good, although it was not as fast as yesterday, it cost me a little more. On the table I saw five pilots who were going to go together, and I thought it was going to be very hard. I saw that Dovi was very brave, and he has put himself in front of us and we have managed to make a little selection between the two. That has been a good time, because we have gone from five to four, then to three, and then we both have stayed. And at that point I said ‘I’m going to try’, because I managed to get very strong on the curve, I felt good with the bike, I had a chance to beat Dovi and the Ducati today and I wanted to try it. I knew I could not miss an inch because if not Dovi would happen to me, and it was nice, I braked very well and then I was able to overtake him on the last lap, which is always something very exciting.”
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Staying optimistic, Rossi added: “Although Márquez has won with a lot of advantage, my glass will probably be half full, because I like to be third in the championship, behind Marquez and Dovi, who were the favourites. But as far as I’m concerned we must think career by race. We have a good group at Yamaha, we are working very hard, but the challenge is very difficult. We will have to wait and see race to race. Surely they are still the two big favourites, so you have to try to keep working hard to be competitive and try to fight, and try to be a little closer to Márquez. Because the second place is important, but when you put ten seconds is a lot … Well, at least there are 30 and I could see the bottom.”
Talking about the value of the result for himself and Yamaha, he said: “It’s a great result for me, but also for my team, where there are many new kids working. And it is also very important for Yamaha, because we come from a difficult moment. And for me it is also very important because last season ended badly, because in Malaysia and Valencia I could have made sure podiums, but I made two mistakes and I was very disappointed. So going back to the podium is very beautiful. The future nobody knows. We have a good group and we are working well, although the level is very strong. ”
When asked about his title chances, Rossi said: “It’s very difficult to answer because in MotoGP the situation changes from one day to the next. One day you are in the top 5 and another you are out of the top 15. We have to go race by race, and now we’re going to Austin, which is probably the toughest circuit of the season, but I like it a lot because it’s very technical.”
Talking about his pal Franco Morbidelli, Rossi said: “Franco has been very strong and has overtaken me in a moment … He has been too brave even (laughs), no kidding. With Morbidelli the battle has been very beautiful. We already have battles with him at the Ranch and it’s always fun, but today I was a little faster than him. Morbidelli has made a great weekend, with the Yamaha being very strong and has a future in MotoGP with the Yamaha.”
Speaking about his rear medium tyre selection, he added: “I was very confident about my choice, because I had worked with him in training. This morning I tried the soft and I was fine, but had more laps with the medium. Honestly, I expected to be faster at the end, but with Dovi it was very close. Tyre management here was essential. Especially with the highest temperatures today with respect to the weekend. It was more difficult and you could not push one hundred percent.”
And finally, commenting on it being 23 years since his MotoGP debut, Rossi said: “This morning I saw the images and it was very funny, because it seemed that the television was black and white. I’m still here because I like it. In my first part of my career I won many races and championships, but there comes a point where it is more difficult, because younger and stronger rivals arrive. And in that moment you decide, if you want to stay looking at your trophies and sleeping in that glory or you want to continue fighting because you enjoy them, and that is my option.”