Valentino Rossi believed 2013 MotoGP rookie sensation Marc Marquez would have made more mistakes at the start of his premier class career after the Spaniard claimed a stunning victory on his Laguna Seca debut.
The Repsol Honda rider heads into the summer break with a healthy 16-point lead in the championship having only failed to the finish on the podium once in the opening nine races.
His triumph in Sunday’s US Grand Prix was his third of an incredible first premier class season and the only blemish on his championship challenge came when he fell late on out of second place in last month’s Mugello race in Italy.
Marquez delivered another flawless performance in California having passed Rossi with an audacious move at the famous Corkscrew on lap four before disposing of the threat posed by LCR Honda rival Stefan Bradl.
After witnessing another Marquez masterclass yesterday (Sunday), Rossi admitted he had been surprised to see the 20-year-old make just one mistake in the first half of the season and the nine-times world champion said: “Marc did some incredible things. I expected this a little bit but sincerely a little bit less than this.
"I thought that he would make some more mistakes in the first part of the season because I was very fast with the 500 in 2000 and I crashed in the first two races and maybe for that reason I lose the championship. Marc is like me but upgraded to a new model.”
Rossi admitted he is just relieved to be running close to Marquez after a dire two-year spell with Ducati where he scored just three podiums in 35 races.
He has now scored three podiums in the last three races at Yamaha and he said: “I come from two very bad seasons, so I am so happy to be back at the front.
"I have won a lot of races and championships but it is great to be right with him (Marquez) and the others and race-by-race I have more feeling that I can stay in front and I can do some good results.
"I am back winning and I am so proud of this and I have four podiums. I have three podiums in a row and the qualifying we are better when early on I could never be fast. To try and win we have to do another step but I am happy.”
For more from Rossi and Marquez and their Corkscrew clash, see the July 24 issue of MCN.