MotoGP

Why Valentino Rossi’s 199th podium might prove his most important one

Valentino Rossi notched up his 199th GP podium in the Andalucia MotoGP... and it seems the timing couldn't have been better for trhe Italian

Valentino Rossi admits he was worried he’d made the wrong call in deciding to continue racing beyond 2020 prior to his timely return to the MotoGP podium in the Andalucia MotoGP.

The Italian scored his first top three result in well over a year with a run to third position in Jerez having shown a significant upturn in performance compared with the Spanish MotoGP at the same venue a week earlier.

Circulating at the lower end of the top ten before a technical issue forced him out on that occasion, the lacklustre showing was blamed on difficulties getting the rear tyre working to his liking, a complaint made on numerous occasions in 2019.

Having originally planned to use the opening few races of the 2020 season to make a call on his future, only to lose that privilege when the campaign was delayed to July because of COVID-19, Rossi admits he was worried his decision to race on in 2021 wasn’t the right one.

“The podium is really special because we were coming from last week’s bad weekend,” he said. “But it was not just last week, it was the majority of 2019 apart from the two podiums at the beginning of the season. I always have the same problem - sometimes its better but I did some bad races [too].

“[After Round 1] It was very bad for everybody on my side because after the races like last week, but also like Valencia and Aragon when I arrive very bad, we are looking at our faces and we don’t have the words. Maybe it is the time to stay at home…

“Because we’d already taken the decision to race next year, I was also a bit worried because I am not a fan when I ride the bike. It’s very frustrating because I have had a problem for a long time.

“It is a hard game, you need to train a lot so you can give time to be competitive but it is good if you enjoy the track so this podium is for all of my team. “

Is this the Valentino Rossi fightback we’ve been waiting for?

While we’re certainly used to seeing Rossi on the podium, the memory had become a faded one until he returned with his run to third position in Spain.

Granted he wasn’t the fastest rider out there and his podium could be described as fortuitous, but the performance was a marked step forward just when we least expected it, while it’s been a while since we saw him battle it out for supremacy with Maverick Vinales.

Indeed, Rossi’s tyre complaints have dragged on for so long they’ve become something of a mantra in his post-race debriefs. While 2020 brought renewed hope of a solution, lacklustre form at the season opener suggested nothing had changed and raised fears they wouldn’t.

The result is a welcome win for new crew chief David Munoz, who has had something to prove by being inexperienced in MotoGP terms.

Whether the breakthrough is circuit dependent – helped by having two races at the same venue back-to-back – remains to be seen, but at a time when Rossi was doubting his own abilities, it’s a timely confidence boost.
 

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