Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow’s Sepang MotoGP race from ninth on the grid after he suffered yet another front-end crash with Ducati’s factory Desmosedici machine in qualifying.
The Italian, who has crashed out of the last two races in Japan and Australia, was down on the tarmac again today in sweltering conditions at the long and technical Sepang track.
Rossi lost the front at the tight Turn 9 left-hand hairpin and while it was a slow crash, it was the latest in a string of confidence draining front-end crashes for the nine-times world champion.
Ever since he first rode the Ducati in Valencia almost a year ago, Rossi has complained incessantly about a vague front-end feeling and understeer issue.
And after crashing again today it appears Ducati hasn’t found any solution to the issue as Rossi set a best time of 2.02.395 to secure only his second top 10 grid position in the last six races.
Rossi, who has tried carbon fibre and aluminium frames to solve the front-end issues, said: “The problem is that unfortunately with this bike when you are very much on the edge going into the corner the first moment you touch the throttle, the front starts to vibrate and a lot of time you can crash.
"We call it the f*****g vibration because it is the last thing you understand before you crash. Unfortunately it happens a lot of times
" For me the problem is that when you unload the front at the maximum angle and you touch the throttle, something happens. Maybe the front doesn’t have enough load and you can crash. It’s the same problem we have from the beginning of the season and is the problem of 95 per cent of my crashes this year.
"It was a Ducati problem also in the past, so we have to try to fix these things before we can try to go faster. Unfortunately, until now we are not able to fix it, but maybe with the next modify we try can do it.”
Rossi reckons it is not unrealistic to compete for a top five finish in tomorrow’s 20-lap race, which he won from 11th place in stunning fashion for Yamaha a year ago.
He added: “For me the potential for tomorrow is not so bad. Unfortunately with the crash I have to use the other bike that had some different setting that was a bit worse, and after the crash I lose some feeling.
"My lap time is not so bad, but I can be two or three tenths faster, so I can fight with Colin (Edwards) Nicky (Hayden) (Alvaro) Bautista, (Hiroshi) Aoyama. But (Marco) Simoncelli is a bit faster and it will be difficult.”