Misano MotoGP: Valentino Rossi plays down hat-trick hopes

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Valentino Rossi has played down home crowd expectations that he can win a third successive MotoGP race in Misano this weekend.

Misano is Rossi’s true home race with his Tavullia home just a short drive from the track and he’s dominated the race in 2008 and ’09 to the delight of a passionate and partisan crowd.

Rossi’s legions of fans will be out in force again this weekend even though the reigning world champion has struggled to challenge for victories since returning from the broken right leg he suffered in June.

In the four races since his comeback, the 31-year-old has claimed just one podium at Laguna Seca and it is obvious he’s still way short of 100 per cent fitness.

And Rossi, who will ride for Ducati next season, said it was hard to imagine being able to mount a victory challenge this weekend.

Rossi, who hasn’t won a premier class race since the opening round in Qatar, told MCN: “In the last two years I’ve made a great job and there is great expectation from the fans. In 2008 and 2009 I arrived 100 per cent fit and I had a great feeling with the bike.

"They were two great victories and important for the championship but I can’t come here and say I want to win. I’m not fit enough but I want to make another good step from Indy to try and arrive on the podium. It will be difficult but not impossible.”

Rossi’s biggest issue in Misano is likely to come from a long-term right shoulder injury.

His shoulder is still not back at full strength after he suffered serious ligament damage in a motocross training accident in April.

He added: “I have pain and I hope it is not a big problem this weekend with a lot of hard braking in the right and this is the worst moment for my shoulder. It has been a difficult period for me. I came back very early from the injury.

"In the Sachsenring it was a great race and in Laguna I had some problems but I took a podium. The most negative was Brno because it was a bad, bad race and one of the worst in the last years for me.

"From Indy we changed a lot and I rode quite well. We changed a lot on the bike and I try to understand the limit and I crashed three times. In these crashes I was very lucky to have no problems. It will be very tough because this track is difficult with a lot of hard braking but we have to try and get a good result.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt