The long break prior to the Far Eastern triple-header has done Valentino good. He's been able to make the most of the time off and get back into shape. The Doctor has arrived in Japan in much better shape than he was at Aragon. His crutches are a distant memory.
“I suffered a bit after the Spanish race, but that was to be expected- he explains - Having an extra week off was important for me. Usually I don't like it because you lose the rhythm but this time it was an advantage for me”.
How are you feeling?
“My leg is good, I'm still struggling a little to walk but haven't had any really problems, not even with the traveling. I'm definitely better than I was at Aragon”.
Have you been able to train on the bike?
“Yes, at Misano on the R1 and then on Saturday I was back at the Ranch. I have more problems on the flat track bike, because I'm in pain when I put my foot down”.
Now attention turns to MotoGP and the 3 consecutive races…
“It's a special time, you have to bear in mind that the races are one after the other. The most important thing is that we're racing at three beautiful tracks, which each have a really great atmosphere”.
The title may be decided and you, Lorenzo and Pedrosa could be arbitrators.
“Jorge has been quick in the last races, Dani too, I hope to be able to do the same. We can definitely have an important role in terms fo the standings, taking points from one rider rather than other. But I think in the end, each rider will run his own race”.
Will we see any team orders?
“It's always difficult, we need to see if Ducati, Honda and Yamaha ask for that”.
If they were to ask you to help Vinales, what would you say?
“I don't know, it would depend on the situation. I don't know what I'd say right now”.
Have you ever played assistant?
“I don't recall, Yamaha has never asked me to”.
You definitely didn't help Jorge here at Motegi in 2010…
“That was a great battle (he laughs). But Lorenzo had a big lead and Pedrosa didn't take part in the race due to injury”.
Why are these last 4 races of the season so important to you?
“To work ahead of next season, because the M1 is still suffering later in the race in terms of tyre wear. So it's important to focus on this problem now. To solve it, we need to work on the electronics but also on the frame and on weight distribution. I don't expect anything new between now and Valencia, but I hope we are able to be competitive anyway”.
On paper, which track should cause the least problems?
“This one, Motegi, but the weather forecast is bad. It's a shame because last year I was fast until I crashed. Rain worries me, because this season I've never been particularly fast in the wet. It could be a good opportunity to work on this aspect”.
Vinales also seems in difficulty. Since the summer break he's the only top rider to have not led in a race…
“Maverick seems to have more difficulty early on in the race and then he improves in the final stages. He was fast at Misano in the dry, but then unfortunately it rained in the race. The Yamaha's always been fast at these three tracks though, he can be competitive”.