Rossi thought ‘Maybe it’s time to stay at home’ before Jerez podium

Valentino Rossi rides back into pit lane after his Jerez podium

Valentino Rossi’s return to the podium was a major relief for the seven-time premier class world champion who looks set to continue his long career into 2021.

The 41-year-old finished third in the Andalucian MotoGP after 17 races away from the podium dating back to last year’s third round in the United States.

Having refused to recommit to the factory Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team in the hope of assessing his early season form, Rossi is now poised to ride for Petronas Yamaha SRT next year.

However, he admits that he had reservations after a DNF in Round 1 of the new season, even if due to an engine problem for his YZR-M1.

A week later, Rossi qualified fourth and ran second or third for all 25 laps of the second race at Jerez.

“It was very special, because coming from last week, which was very frustrating,” he said.

“But it wasn’t 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 worse, sometimes a little bit better, but I did some bad races.

“At the end, we don’t give up and from Friday morning we do something different and already from Lap 3 I feel better, I feel a better bike for me, a better position in the corner, something more for my style.

“We have a lot of work to do, we improved the bike but for sure this game is very difficult because there are a lot of riders that are so fast.

“The result of last week was too bad to be real, also if I’m old, and I said ‘f**k, not like this.’”

Rossi revealed that he and crew chief David Muñoz had to press their case to Yamaha engineers to take a different set-up direction, and said that the result was a tonic for his team.

“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,” he remarked.

“We said, ‘Maybe it’s time to stay at home.’ And because we already take the decision to race next year, I was also a little bit worried because I didn’t enjoy, I didn’t have fun when I rode the bike.

“And 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.”

Rossi was in fact the third Yamaha rider home in a race won by SRT’s Fabio Quartararo, with Maverick Viñales second on the other factory entry.

While Yamaha has therefore filled five of the six podium places on offer to date, it now faces serious reliability concerns.

Two engines were sent back to Japan between the Jerez races before Franco Morbidelli’s SRT bike appeared to have a very similar failure to Rossi’s of a week earlier.

Viñales has already used all five of the engines which he is allowed this season, one of which has already been withdrawn, while the other three Yamaha riders have used four each in just two rounds.

The penalty for use of extra engines is a pit lane start for each unit above the allocation.

Round 3 of what will be at least a 13-race premier class season takes place at Brno on August 7-9.

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