Rossi gracious in defeat After another complicated race today at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan for Valentino Rossi brought about the reality that for the second year in succession he will not be World Champion, the Fiat Yamaha rider paid tribute to the new title holder Casey Stoner.
A combination of unpredictable track conditions and tire issues brought about an end to Rossi’s slim title chances, as he finished 13th in Motegi despite a heroic effort which saw him lead the race at one point.
With the track still wet after a morning of light rain in Japan, the race started with wet-weather tires being used on a fast drying track. Rossi made a poor start from second on the grid and at the end of lap one was in seventh place, but a great comeback The Doctor saw him fight his way up to the front, taking the lead on lap 14.
With the racing line almost completely dry by that point Rossi left it late to pit and change onto a bike with slick tires, doing so on lap fifteen and with enough of a lead that he was able to re-join the race in second place - behind eventual winner Loris Capirossi. However after the change the Italian immediately ran into front tire problems and was forced to pit again, effectively ending the championship race with Stoner coming home sixth whilst Rossi struggled with grip and was unable to catch the front runners.
“It’s a great pity for us how everything has turned out this weekend, because in the dry we were faster than Stoner and we could have had a good chance,” said a rueful Rossi. On his problems in the race he explained: “We had an intermediate front tire, a slick cut which is normal in these situations, but the bike was almost impossible for me to ride and turn and it felt like there was something seriously wrong. I came back in but my mechanics could see there was nothing wrong so I went straight out again, and by then it was too late; the race was over for me and the championship was gone.”
Summing up the current state of play and acknowledging Stoner’s triumph, Rossi concluded: “However this is racing and now we have three more races and we will do our best to find a way to win and end the season on a high note. I’m really sorry for my fans and for everyone in the team. Congratulations to Loris but especially to Casey on becoming world champion. I am very flattered that he made a dedication to me on his victory t-shirt, if someone else has to win then I am glad it’s one of my fans! He is a great rival and I hope that we can continue this rivalry into the future.
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