Sometimes you just have to settle, and Valentino coddles his third place trophy at Le Mans, well aware of this. Nothing was a given in this performance that provided a boost of good mood and (cautious) optimism in a garage where the atmosphere was getting heavy.
“I am happy, because after qualifying I was rather pessimistic - the Doctor confessed - We worked well yesterday evening, making two or three right choices in warm up, and I felt good. However, when you start from the third row, anything can happen, but I managed to be fast all the way to the end. The thing that makes me happiest is finishing just 5 seconds behind Marquez.”
Could you have hoped for something more?
“No, this is our maximum potential. Last year on this track we dominated. Without my crash in the finale, there would have been three Yamahas on the podium. Today, on the other hand, I finished 3rd and I would not have been able to do anything more.”
It has been 15 GP races since Yamaha has won…
“And it is not by chance. I had said it in February and I usually prefer not to, because I end up being right.”
Is there a risk that this draught could continue for all of 2018?
“Impossible to say now. We don’t have particular problems. Our rivals are simply faster.”
Is this podium also a signal for the guys in Iwata?
“It makes the team happy and I’m happy too. I hope that it can also be a push to improve.”
Why hasn’t what you are asking for arrived yet?
“I have a lot of experience with the Japanese, so I can say that… I don’t know why (laughing). I talk to them a lot. They listen to me and write down everything I say and then they do what they want to do. All joking aside, I like working with the Yamaha engineers, but right now we need to shift gears quickly and usually they are not too reactive.”
How do you handle certain moments?
“Not letting yourself get down, but trying to find that 20 or even 10% more. That’s what I do in the practice sessions, not thinking too much about the times, but about what can be improved in anticipation of the race.”
Here you succeeded…
“But it is a track that helps us. On others it won’t be the same. We’ll need to hang tough and bring points home, hoping to have the improvements we need in the second part of the season.”
The next track is Mugello: what are your predictions?
“Before the tests last week, I felt rather optimistic. Now I am rather pessimistic. I was pitiful in those tests. However, it is a fantastic Grand Prix and will need to manage to transform the pressure into positive energy.”
Marquez has widened the gap in the standings. What do you expect from here on out?
“Marc already has a good advantage, but the worst thing for his rivals is not the gap in terms of points, but the fact that he is the fastest rider on the track.”