Can you be happy with a 5th place finish? Yes, if you started out fearing the worst and you are heading into the holiday break with a gap of only 10 points behind the championship leader who, in the meantime, is now Marquez. Valentino breathes a sigh of relief at the Sachsenring and, before his thoughts turn to sunscreen and beach umbrellas, he locked himself in the garage for a very long technical meeting with the engineers.
“Of one thing I am certain: without the new frame, it would have been like Waterloo here, like what happened in Jerez and Barcelona”, the Doctor says confidently.
“After a very difficult weekend, I can be pleased with a result that usually would not satisfy me. In the race it was hard. I always had someone on my pipes and I had to push from start to finish. It was one of the most tiring races I’ve ridden.”
Did you expect worse?
“There was a bit of hard luck because of the breakdowns in practice that cost me some time. Luckily it did not rain and with the new bike I was able to be more competitive. I had a good pace. With a better position on the grid I would have been able to have a go at the podium.”
“It’s a pity that I finished behind Viñales. These would have been important points in a championship like this one, but today he was faster than I was.”
Folger, with the 2016 bike, is also ahead again…
“Both Jonas and Zarco have good sensations with that M1, but above all, they are fast riders. Today Folger made the difference and he has my compliments. Naturally we need to be able to finish ahead of the satellite bikes, but if we look at the standings, Maverick and I are ahead of them.”
Before the holidays, it’s time to assess the situation. What is yours?
“I am happy because I won a race and I am only 10 points behind the championship lead. I am one of the 5 riders who are contenders for the title. On the other hand, there are a lot of doubts and I am not talking just about myself but about everyone. This is a difficult situation to interpret and for this reason we need to continue working.”
Are you talking about yourself or the Yamaha?
“More advancements definitely need to be brought, even at the risk of making a mistake. This year it is hard to figure out which direction to go. For now I am happy because in the last two races the bike has improved.”
Marquez is ahead of the rest. What did he get right?
“I think he was the one who managed to limit the damage the best in difficult moments.”
Is it possible to follow strategies?
“We are all on the same level and when I say all I am including Pedrosa too. My 5th today seems like a ‘calculated’ result, but I pushed to the limit. The important thing is to consistently stay there, among the best. No one knows what will happen in the next 9 races.”
The Sachsenring is Marquez’s kingdom. What is your wild card?
“I would like to be strong in Misano and I also know that I am fast in the three overseas rounds, but I’m not the only one. We need to think about Brno and be ready when we get there.”