Rossi “had to struggle” in Qatar MotoGP race

The 42-year-old managed to qualify fourth on his SRT debut, but admitted on Saturday he didn’t feel he was strong enough to fight for a 200th MotoGP podium come the race.

Rossi struggled all weekend to get endurance out of the soft rear tyre and quickly faded from fourth to 12th by the chequered flag – 10.7 seconds adrift of race winner Maverick Vinales on the factory team Yamaha.

“We expected more for sure,” Rossi said of his race.

“Especially after the qualifying, but in the race I was struggling very much.

“After some laps I got into trouble with the tyres and unfortunately this also happened on Friday.

“After some laps we had some trouble with the rear tyre.

“For some reason I stressed the rear tyre too much. And the rear tyre lost performance, so after some laps I wasn’t fast enough.

“This also happened during the race. We hoped for less problems because the temperature was better, but the feeling was similar.

“After, the race it was difficult, I had to struggle a lot. Everybody was [up] there so I lost a lot of positions. It wasn’t the race we expected.”

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Tyre endurance is an existing issue on the M1, with Fabio Quartararo also getting into trouble late in the race but managed to salvage fifth on the other works team Yamaha.

Rossi evaluated the hard rear tyre during practice on Saturday, but couldn’t get enough pace from it to justify risking running it in the cooler conditions of the race.

“In the long runs on Friday I had this feeling [I had in the race] and we tried something, but we couldn’t fix it,” he added.

“Yesterday [Saturday] we tried the hard rear because we had trouble with the soft on Friday, but the hard rear wasn’t fast enough.

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“So, we had to race with the soft, but unfortunately we faced the same problem, even with the cooler conditions.”

Rossi was buoyed by the form Vinales and Quartararo showed in the race and hopes to be able to analyse their data to better understand a direction to work in for this week’s Doha GP.

“Maverick was impressive and he did a fantastic race,” said Rossi.

“It’s positive that the Yamaha won. They follow… they have something different in the setting compared to us and it looks that it works much better than us.

“Also, Quartararo was strong. It’s good to try to understand if we can improve for next week.”