For the first time since 2012, Valentino Rossi was left off the podium in the Qatar MotoGP season opener.
The Italian, who signed a new two-year Yamaha contract during the season-opening event, finished the race in fourth position – but just 2.387s behind victorious team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
The Doctor now heads to round two in Argentina eager to stand om the rostrum for the first time during the new Michelin/single ECU era and boosted by memories of last year’s race.
Rossi his first took victory at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit after a dramatic late-race clash with Marc Marquez, the first of three incidents involving the pair last season.
“I am very happy to go to Argentina. In this place I have many fans and it’s always nice to feel the affection and passion of these people. I have great memories here. Last year it was a great race. It will be difficult to repeat the same result but we will try,” said Rossi.
“In Qatar I was not able to go on the podium but it was a good race anyway. We worked well throughout the weekend. In Argentina we will have to do the same thing, but we’ll have to do better in the race and try to get on the podium. I really like the Termas track and we will try our best!”
Team director Massimo Meregalli expects to again see both his riders up front this weekend, although the lack of prior testing with the new Michelin tyres is a significant unknown.
“This year our riders are both in top form so we are expecting another close fight this weekend. We have already gained more knowledge on how well Michelin’s tyre life lasts over long distance from the first race. It will be interesting to see how the tyres will perform at this circuit where we haven’t done any testing yet.”