Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SIMON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP RE­PORTER AT TER­MAS DE RÍO HONDO simon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

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

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