Jerez MotoGP: Valentino Rossi doubts victory challenge

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Valentino Rossi has cast doubt on whether he can claim a 105th Grand Prix victory in Jerez this weekend after he ended opening practice down in fifth place.

The Italian conceded his hopes of success in Sunday’s 27-lap race were slim given the extent of the pain from a right shoulder injury he suffered in a recent motocross training accident.

Rossi said he was surprised that the shoulder stood up so well under severe examination in Spain today as he completed 25 laps on board his factory Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.

But he told MCN in the Jerez paddock tonight: “I’m not at 100 per cent for sure and I think it will be difficult to fight for the victory. But we can try and fight for the podium.”

The 31-year-old ended fifth with a best time of 1.40.359 that left him over 0.6s adrift of Casey Stoner’s impressive pace.

Rossi, who won the season’s opening race in Qatar earlier this month, said: “I have some pain and I am not at the maximum but I’m able to ride the bike and to move well.

“I have enough power with my hand to control the brake and the throttle but I suffer in three hard braking points where I need to brake earlier than normal. But the positive that after 25 laps the pain doesn’t increase and it remains the same, so this is important for the race.

“I didn’t make any special treatment for the pain today and we hope to improve it for tomorrow and for Sunday.”

Rossi said his damaged right shoulder was not his only issue as he also struggled with rear grip on his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.

He said: “My problem also comes from the setting of the bike. I don’t have enough rear grip and I’m losing too much time in acceleration.

“This is the main issue to fix and we have some ideas. We need to modify the rear shock to create some better rear grip.”

Spanish team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was delighted with his opening practice performance as he ended just 0.144s behind Australian Stoner, Lorenzo, who has taken pole position in Jerez for the last four years in the 250 and MotoGP class, said: “I’m really happy with this first day.

“Everything has gone well and I don’t have any pain in my hand anymore. I feel as good on the bike as I felt last year when I got pole, although my aim is to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistake in the race this time!

“I always feel like I ride well here and I’ve already got a good pace; with some small modifications we can be even better.

“I don’t think the perfect MotoGP bike exists but our Yamaha is definitely nearly there, maybe we just need a bit more top speed.

“Tomorrow my aim is to improve my pace just a bit more to be consistently in the 39s; I’m excited about the weekend.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt