Valentino Rossi wound back the clock at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and led the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2019, but grip problems dropped him back in the pack.
Riding in a record 400th Grand Prix start across his career, Rossi’s Yamaha M1 was at the head of the field after a brilliant start from the second row of the grid, before fading back to finish eighth.
“Was a great start, very good way to celebrate my 400th Grand Prix, to stay a little bit in front,” said Rossi after the race. “At the end, for sure, the result is not fantastic but I was not so far from [Jack] Miller, who arrived on the podium.
“I was able to ride in a better way, I was more competitive compared to the last weekend. Anyway, we need more, we need to be stronger.”
Rossi explained that his loss of pace and position was because of a lack of straight-line speed from the Yamaha.
“The problem is, every lap I lost one position in the straight. We are a big group but if I am not able to resist, or re-overtake during the lap, in the next lap the guy behind overtook me another time because I was for sure slowest in the straight of all the group.
“Unfortunately in some places, I was not strong enough every lap to recover. At the end, I tried to ride smooth and not lose because I had other bikes behind.”
He also reiterated that he continues to have problems with the rear grip of the Yamaha.
“Here we found a good balance of the bike and in braking and inserting corners I was very well placed with the front,” he said.
“But we lacked a bit of grip at the rear, which is the theme of the second half of the season, which for the moment we can’t solve. We have to think about this and we have to try to improve.”
The 40-year-old is now seventh in the MotoGP™ riders’ championship points.