Phillip Island was the penultimate ride for Valentino Rossi aboard a Ducati as he returns to Yamaha in 2013.
The forthcoming Valencia MotoGP test can’t come soon enough for Valentino Rossi after his penultimate appearance for Ducati in Australia proved to be another humbling experience. The Italian will be back on a factory Yamaha YZR-M1 at the Valencia test where he will begin the journey of trying to prove that at 33 he is still fast enough to fight with the likes of new world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi is unlikely to shed any tears when he gets to cast off the struggling Desmosedici GP12, which he said at Phillip Island was a bike still riddled with the same issues he had when he first tested for the Bologna factory at the end of 2010. Progress had been minimal and got to a point where the nine-time world champion felt he was wasting his time.
The 27-lap encounter at Phillip Island saw Rossi finish a massive 37 seconds behind runaway leader Casey Stoner and in his media debrief he was more interested in talking about 2013 than his slump to a distant seventh.
Valentino Rossi (46) battling with teammate Nicky Hayden (69) and Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham.
Bringing himself to recall how he had first pulled away from Ducati satellite rider Karel Abraham and then kept teammate Nicky Hayden at bay, Rossi said: “I think that the seventh place is the maximum what we can do. For sure we are not satisfied and to be more satisfied I have to stay more close to the guys in front and further away from Nicky. But even that doesn’t change a lot.”
Rossi has spoken pre-race of his plan to get in a fight with satellite Honda duo Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista for the top six, but in truth he never got close and he was 14 seconds behind an exciting three-way fight for fourth, which also included compatriot Andrea Dovizioso.
He added: “Bradl and Bautista make 30.9 and 31.0 for the first part of the race that we never did during the weekend. We don’t have nothing for those two. I tried just to be concentrated and not make any mistake and try to arrive in front of Nicky and this is the result. To finish 37 seconds behind is not a good result.”
Rossi still had time to joke about his dire performance, adding that a 37-second deficit to dominant Stoner had surpassed his pre-race expectations when he had been more than two seconds off the Aussie’s pace throughout practice and qualifying.
“I expected the gap to be more,” said Rossi. “All weekend it was two seconds and two seconds for 27 laps is 54. So for me it was a good race!”