Valentino Rossi : “The Doctor” Pulls Off Another MotoGP Miracle

Rossi talks never giving up, the gap to his Movistar Yamaha teammate Maverick Vinales and his championship hopes for 2017.

MotoGP miracle for VR46
Although he’s had a pair of podiums to start the 2017 MotoGP season, it’s been a struggle for Valentino Rossi.Photo: Yamaha Racing

At 38-years-old, Valentino Rossi's biological clock is ticking in MotoGP. There's no doubt that the nine-time World Champion is still competitive at the highest level of road racing in the world, but Rossi wants title number 10. Although he's had some decent results – a pair of podiums and sits second-place in the standings, 14 points behind his young Movistar Yamaha teammate Maverick Vinales, he has his work cut out for him. It also doesn't help that he's struggled on every day except raceday.

“The pre-season for me was disaster,” Rossi said. “I was very sad. Difficult. But the important thing is just the Sunday afternoon when you cross the line. In my long career I’ve learned that you have always to be concentrate and never, never give up; that a lot of things can happen.”

So when the going gets tough, Rossi keeps going. He keeps chipping away at it and keeps finding improvement. In the end he was happy with his result and the improvement gained with the bike setup, but even for a veteran, there’s some frustration in the struggle.

The Doctor at Argentina GP
When it gets tough, Rossi (pictured) doesn’t quit. The nine-time World Champion sits second in the points behind teammate Maverick Vinales.Photo: Yamaha Racing

"Seriously, after Qatar I hoped to arrive here and be stronger also in the practice, but I suffer a lot," Rossi admitted. "Yesterday we were strong and also a little bit lucky to cut the Q2 for just some milli (seconds) in front of Dovi (Dovizioso). This morning I started with the first bike and it was not so bad, but I stopped to try something else and it was important for understand the setting for the race. It was good because a good start, good first lap but especially I can push to the end. I feel comfortable with the bike. I feel better with my physical condition. I work very hard. In Qatar (CLICK HERE) I arrive more tired. Now here I can push and also the fight with Cal was great because Cal was very fast. I know that I have to fight with him for arrive on the podium after the practice, but when I follow I see that I had a bit more and it was an important second place. Also for me, for my team, but also for all the team because Yamaha is one, two, and also for the points in the championship."

The Doctor, Lin Jarvis and Maverick Vinales
Yamaha Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis flanked by Rossi on the left and Viñales after their 1-2 finish at the Argentina GP.Photo: Yamaha Racing

So how far away is he from his teammate Vinales? Rossi was not going to name a difference in physical conditioning as an excuse.

“How far is the victory? You have to speak with him (Maverick Vinales). At a certain age you need more time for be fit, but it’s no,” Rossi answered about his physical condition playing a part. “Also in Qatar I was okay. It’s something altogether. The feeling with the bike. This track is also more easy, but I have to train hard. The problem is for me that Maverick did a fantastic pre-season. He’s always strong. Also today was not so far, but it was a bit faster, so we need just to work.”

Hard work and persistence. It’s the formula for success. And while there are those who might question Rossi’s ability to take another crown against such tough opposition, opposition that’s not too far from half his age, it’s not “the Doctor’s” first rodeo. It’s two rounds in, and he’s in for the long haul. And so far, he’s had better results in the two opening rounds compared to last season, especially considering his rival – Marc Marquez – scored zero points in Argentina by crashing out of the lead.

"The race in Qatar gave to me a good feeling, a good vibe because I started to know better the bike and I know that also if I suffer I can be competitive on Sunday," Rossi said. "So I'm happy. It's a good result also because I have more points than last year. Better race in Qatar than last year. Better race in Argentina than last year. Now for me Austin is very hard, but is a track that I like. Last year I was very strong. After the warmup I was the only one that have the pace to try and stay close to Marquez, but unfortunately in the race I did a big mistake and I crash. So I want to try to make a good race also there."