Valentino Rossi’s tough debut campaign with Ducati’s factory MotoGP squad continued at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday.
With only one podium finish in the opening 11 races, hopes Rossi could build on an encouraging sixth place in Brno earlier this month quickly evaporated in a frustrating 28-lap race.
Beset by more front-end grip issues with his GP11.1 Desmosedici bike, Rossi was struggling to break into the top 10 when his afternoon got even worse after eight laps.
Rossi’s seamless shift gearbox kept selecting neutral when he was downshifting and at the first corner on lap nine, the problem forced him to run off track.
Rossi returned to the track in last place and he recovered to finish 10th, but he said: “A number of things happened this weekend that contributed to making this a particularly difficult race: the crash yesterday in qualifying, which robbed some confidence was part of the reason we had to start so far back on the grid, and in the race there was a problem with the gearbox.
"The bike stuck in neutral six or seven times, and the first two caused me to go straight and lose time. I found myself in last place, but I decided to do what I could to at least get some points. In this morning’s warm-up, we had made a small change that let us improve the pace a little, but the race was really difficult.
"We know that we have to work hard. Ducati is doing that, and my team and I are as well, because we must try to not let up and to get the bike ready while we wait for technical updates.”
Rossi now heads back to Europe for his home race in Misano this weekend having dropped down to sixth in the world championship standings as a result of Ben Spies taking third in front of his home crowd.
Rossi added: “It is good to go to Misano especially for all our fans, but we are in a very difficult situation and we don’t know what we can do for next week. We hope just to make a better weekend and try to make a better result.”
See this Wednesday’s issue of Motor Cycle News for seven pages of coverage from the Indianapolis MotoGP race.