Valentino Rossi celebrates his best dry condition finish for Ducati and dedicates the podium to Marco Simoncelli.
Italian Valentino Rossi claimed his best ever dry result for Ducati in second-place and then dedicated his third rostrum on board a factory Desmosedici machine to close friend Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in a horrific crash during the October 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Using a new chassis and swingarm, the 33-year-old profited from a fantastic start from sixth to run in second place for the entire 27-lap race.
Rossi’s first dry race podium for Ducati in 16 months thrilled a passionate home crowd of just over 45,000 fans at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, which was renamed in 2012 in honor of the late Gresini Honda rider.
Amidst all the jubilation and celebration, Rossi said his podium was made extra special coming at the track named in memory of his great friend Simoncelli.
The nine-time world champion said: “It is something special because we are in Misano with a lot of my fans and also because this circuit is named after Marco. This second place is for him. I’m also happy for Ducati because we are in Italy, their home, and it is important because all the guys in Bologna work very strong and never give up. All the people around me trust in me and believe we can get a good result despite some difficult races.”
Rossi said the new chassis and swingarm Ducati made available after a recent two-day test at Misano helped prolong tire life and enabled him to keep a faster pace for longer.
He added: “The bike was very balanced and I could exit from the corner with good traction without losing a lot and when the tire started to slide a bit I took some advantage on (Stefan) Bradl. We always suffer this season after some laps with the rear tire and I had some good feeling with the new chassis and swingarm in the test. But you have to wait for the race to understand if it is true or not but it looks good and I was strong at the end and the bike was easier to ride. It is positive but every race has a different story, so it is important to make the last five races close to this level and go with a good memory of Ducati.”
Alvaro Bautista, riding on the same team as Simoncelli did in 2011, earned his first ever MotoGP podium at the course named for “SuperSic” in dramatic fashion.
Asked whether he could sign off a frustrating two-year spell at Ducati with a victory in the last five races, Rossi said: “If I could do this it would be great for me and Ducati. But (Jorge) Lorenzo, (Dani) Pedrosa and (Casey) Stoner are very fast and while we were good, we were still 4.3 seconds behind, so we have to work.”
It was an emotional podium for current San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista too, particularly as his last gasp third secured him his first ever MotoGP rostrum.
The Misano race is the home of Simoncelli’s Gresini Honda squad and there were emotional scenes as Bautista grabbed third in a photo finish with Andrea Dovizioso.
The Italian did briefly take third with a bold move on the brakes at the final corner but he ran wide and Bautista was given third by just 0.003s.
Bautista said: “The first podium in MotoGP is always very special but the first one this weekend is even more special because it is a very emotional weekend for the team. Before I wanted to make a good result to dedicate to the team and to Marco and to get my first podium makes me so happy because the race was fantastic. I fought with Bradl and Dovizioso and I wasn’t sure when we crossed the line if I was third. When I saw on the big screen I was third I started to smile a lot inside my helmet.”
Bautista has struggled for much of 2012, with the Gresini squad opting to switch from Ohlins to Showa suspension and he added: “I enjoyed riding again because in the last races I had a lot of problems with the suspension and all this year we have struggled a lot because with Showa we have no reference and sometimes we are lost. We try to do our best and this weekend we found a good setting and most importantly I can enjoy riding the bike again. I’ve always been confident in myself and I want to say thanks to all the people who trusted in me to make this podium.”