Valentino Rossi settles for second

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Valentino Rossi conceded he was powerless to prevent Jorge Lorenzo from romping to a dominant victory in Sunday’s French MotoGP race at the iconic Le Mans track.

The Italian led for 12 of the 28-laps, but once Lorenzo attacked, Rossi had no answer to his hard charging team-mate’s blistering pace.

The nine-times world champion was able to ride home in a distant and lonely second place but now trails Lorenzo by nine-points having twice been overshadowed by the Spaniard in the last month.

Rossi’s fears that his damaged right shoulder would suffer after ten to 12 laps came true as he suddenly dropped off the pace in the second half of the race.

Signs that Rossi was struggling with the shoulder he damaged in a motocross training accident last month were obvious on lap 15 when he suddenly slipped 1.505s behind his team-mate.

And on lap 16 Lorenzo was able to extend his lead by another 1.6s as Rossi faded quickly to a distant second.

Rossi eventually finished 5.672s back and he said: “I made a great start and I tried to stay in front because I understood from the bike that I don’t have the same pace as Jorge.

"I was worried about my shoulder but sincerely it is not so bad, only for the last seven or eight laps but already the race was finished. The biggest problem is the setting and I don’t have enough acceleration to stay with Jorge.

"We have to understand and why to make it better. I know that there was no way for me to stay in front for 28 laps, so it was just for fun when we passed each other earlier in the race.”

Rossi said he wasn’t overly concerned by Lorenzo’s dazzling present form.

The 23-year-old’s victory was the first time in his career that he has managed to register back-to-back MotoGP wins and Rossi said: “Having nine points of advantage is better than a disadvantage but it is not a lot and the championship is so long.

"What I don’t expect is to be fighting just with Jorge. I expect after the winter (Casey) Stoner to be closer and also Dani (Pedrosa). It looks like another time being a Yamaha fight.”

Rossi has scored a podium finish now in all three races to take his premier class tally to a staggering 131 in 170 races.

And he said being consistent was going to be a crucial factor as the title chase unfolds over the coming months.

He added: “This is crucial. Sometimes in some races you don’t have enough speed to try and win and sincerely in the past with different bikes and different tyres it is possible to invent something during the race.

"Now if you don’t have the pace, if you try you just crash. So these 20 points are not so bad.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt