Valentino Rossi’s return to racing after injury delivered the spectacle that had been highly anticipated by many, as the reigning World Champion finished fourth after only being beaten to a podium spot on the final corner of the race at Sachsenring by Casey Stoner.
In a shortened 21-lap contest due to the red flagging of the original race – in which Rossi was pushing hard as well – the Italian of the Fiat Yamaha team refused to take it easy on his still recovering right leg as he fought throughout the race, only losing out to Stoner by 0.366s.
The 31 year-old surprised himself with his own display, and said: “I didn’t expect this! I thought it was maybe possible to make fourth or fifth place but I thought it would be very difficult. In the end I was fourth but I had a great battle with Casey and I was so close to the podium, so this is a fantastic result after missing four races.”
Rossi was extremely satisfied despite just missing out on what would have been a remarkable top-three finish, and continued to analyse his superb result: “I need some more kilometres to really recover the feeling and feel completely okay with the bike again, but I think I did a great job and this was a very good comeback, better than we could wish for. I felt a bit of pain in my shoulder but more in the leg when changing direction, but at the end the battle with Casey was such fun that I didn’t think about it. Unfortunately though he just got the better of me on the last corner!”
The MotoGP class now head to Laguna Seca next weekend, where Rossi placed second in last year’s race, and he outlined his aim for the Red Bull US Grand Prix.
“Thanks to all my team for helping me come back and be competitive like this, we will try to do even better in Laguna,” he concluded.
Davide Brivio, Team Manager for Rossi, was just as amazed by the result and stated: “One week ago we didn’t know if we’d be able to ride here at all and then day by day our targets changed. We would have been happy whatever with a top five today but finally we were really competitive and so close to the podium. It’s unbelievable and even more so because we were lapping at the same pace as the leaders. It was very positive; Valentino worked so hard to be here and he made it in style, so now we will continue our plan in Laguna next weekend.”