A crash, a ride through penalty, three bike changes and no points at Le Mans left Valentino Rossi with plenty on his mind.
It is hard to imagine how World Champion Valentino Rossi could have had a more complex race to deal with at the Grand Prix de France on Sunday.
The Fiat Yamaha rider went into pit lane on four separate occasions at Le Mans, three times to change bikes and once for a ride through penalty, after he got his strategy wrong for once and suffered a costly fifth lap crash having made an early switch onto slicks.
A fortnight ahead of his home race at his beloved Mugello circuit the Italian star slipped to joint second in the standings as his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo snatched top spot in the championship race by one point, with an accomplished win.
Reviewing Sunday’s proceedings, Rossi commented, “I had difficulties from the start and I really could not ride my bike to its best. By the fourth lap I felt that I was quite slow and that I couldn’t ride as I wanted. I decided to change bikes early because usually this strategy pays off. I knew that I had to warm the tyres up a little bit but I crashed anyway in that corner because at that point the track was still wet and I just didn’t ride into it in a calm enough manner.”
He continued, “Luckily I was able to make it back to the pits and then later I changed again, but the rule says that if you change the bike again then you have to use one wet tyre, and so this is what we did. When I started that time, the pit-limiter on my bike was not on and so I was given a ride-through for speeding, but by that time it was too late for our race anyway.”
Summarising the round four results overall, Rossi added, “We’ve had problems throughout the entire weekend with the set-up of the bike and I was just hoping that I could stay with the riders in front and get some important points for the championship. Now we go to Mugello, my home GP, where I will perhaps be even more motivated than usual!”