Valentino Rossi reflects on disastrous first lap exit

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Valentino Rossi was fortunate to escape injury after the Italian’s hopes of claiming a home podium in Mugello were ended by a disastrous first lap collision with Spaniard Alvaro Bautista.

The factory Yamaha rider was trying to gain lost ground after a sluggish start from seventh on the grid when he collided with Bautista’s Gresini Honda RC213V at just the third corner.

The 34-year-old suffered a heavy impact with a section of trackside hay bales but his relief at being unhurt quickly turned to frustration after his hopes of a second podium in 2013 disappeared so early.

The nine-times world champion said: “This was a great pity, especially because it is Mugello but also it was a good weekend for me. I was always in a good position in the practice and in the warm-up I felt good on the bike and did my best time after 12 laps on a used tyre.

"I'm sure I could have had a good rhythm for the whole race. I believe I could have fought for the podium today, I had good pace and could have done a good race.”

Explaining the collision, Rossi said: “He hit my foot with his front tyre because I was half a bike in front.  When he saw another rider on the outside he thinks 'f**k, I am too slow, if not another one will overtake' so he opened the throttle and he didn't see that I was already in front of him. It can happen.

"It was a big impact. Alvaro was still on the left so he takes me and then he crash. But for me it was a lot more dangerous because I was already changing direction and I lost control of the bike. I went straight to the straw bales and I thought f**k.  I put the bike in front of me but the impact was high."

Rossi’s brilliant return to Yamaha’s factory squad with second in the opening round in Qatar already seems like a distant memory.

He has not been able to score a podium since and after five races his title hopes are fading fast and he trails Respol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa by 56-points.

A difficult two years at Ducati had not helped his bid to challenge the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Pedrosa and rookie sensation Marc Marquez and he added: "It is very difficult to come back after two difficult seasons and I need time. 

"But I have also been unlucky. In Le Mans I could do a good race but I made a mistake. Here I didn't make any mistake and I was just unlucky with Alvaro. But my potential is not so bad.

"Jorge is faster than me and riding the M1 better than me and I think I can do some good races from Barcelona onwards."

Not surprisingly Spaniard Bautista saw the incident from a completely different perspective, though it all ended amicably after both were summonsed to a special meeting with Race Director Mike Webb to explain what had happened while reviewing numerous TV angles.

It was judged a racing incident and Bautista, who seemed to be most people's culprit in the paddock, escaped any penalty.

The former 125GP world champion said: “There is not much I can say really. Unfortunately in the third corner I made contact with Valentino and we both crashed out of a race that was very important for both of us.

"Valentino and I have watched the incident back together in Race Direction and it was just a racing incident that leaves us both with a bitter taste in the mouth but neither of us is to blame.

"I was on the inside and it is very difficult to see a rider on the outside from there. He was taking a slightly different line and that's why we came together. These things happen but we have to forget about it and try to think about the next race.”

For more reaction to the Rossi and Bautista clash, see the June 5 issue of Motor Cycle News.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt