ROSSI IS THE MIRACLE MAN
Valentino Rossi marked his incredible 350th GP start by once again delivering his traditional Sunday miracle by turning a poor weekend of qualifying at the Argentinian Grand Prix into a strong second-place that keeps his title hopes very much alive.
Continuing to struggle with the problems that have been plaguing him since he first jumped on the 2017-spec M1 machine, Rossi looked adrift during free practice. He managed to salvage seventh place on the grid but even then it didn’t look like it would be of much use to him come Sunday’s race.
Yet, the old campaigner was able to fight through the field, stalking Cal Crutchlow for most of the race, before pouncing in the later stages to snatch second. After the race, Rossi admitted that even he’s not sure how he did it!
He said: “I don’t know why it is! I struggled in practice – the situation was not in control this weekend, because all the riders now can push from the beginning and make good lap times. Sure, I was able to improve in the race, but we need to work on this for the future.”
Team boss Lin Jarvis, the man who has overseen four of Rossi’s nine world titles, was able to hit the nail on the head after the race, telling MCN that he believes success just comes naturally to the 38-year-old when the pressure is on.
“This weekend was even more troublesome for him than Qatar, yet step by step he got there. When it comes to the race, you’ve got to be on it, you’ve got to go for it, and it seems that when he forces himself and starts to force the bike… it starts to work.
“It’s quite remarkable, but his race was incredible, and to have a double podium after the first two races, considering the difficulty he seems to be in, is quite amazing.”
And as the season progresses, Rossi is getting closer and closer to finding the magical setting he needs for the bike to challenge not only for the podium but to take the battle to team-mate Maverick Viñales and to seriously challenge for that elusive tenth world title.
Rossi said: “We got on the podium after another difficult weekend, but I arrived in Argentina hoping to be closer to the front in practice. We struggled to do that, but we tried something in the warm-up that was important for the race. I felt quite comfortable with it, and was behind Maverick and my pace was good, so I was a bit more optimistic from that point.
“The entire pre-season for me was a disaster and I was very sad. But the important thing is the Sunday afternoon when you cross the line, and I’ve learned in my long career that you must never give up. The race in Qatar gave me a good feeling and a good vibe because I started to know the bike, and I have more points and better races than I did last year after two races.”
The Doctor pulls a result out of the bag to celebrate 350th Grand Prix in style ‘I’ve learned in my long career that you must never give up’
Rossi makes it stick with a pass on Cal Crutchlow