Topics of conversation with Valentino risk becoming monotonous lately: his difficulties with Yamaha, when the M1 will be competitive again, the time that's passed since his last win, and not much more. Rossi jokes about it: “perhaps I could not talk to the journalists, or only on alternate days”.
A realist, he doesn't have high hopes for Barcelona either, the situation appearing similar to what the Doctor went through in Ducati, swallowing frogs in the press conferences for two years.
“It's better now. I don't deny I'm having problems being fast with the M1, but I like riding it while I really didn't get on with the Ducati”.
This doesn't take away from the fact that Valentino finds himself facing harsh reality at times, at Mugello for example.
“That race was a shock, also from a psychological point of view, because I went there with high hopes but the reality turned out to be very different".
Things did not go well, though the Doctor has had ten days to digest it, doing so in his own way, or rather: riding...
“Always the best therapy - he smiles - I went MX riding at Cavallara, a fantastic track I grew up on, but also the one I hurt myself at two years ago, before Mugello. My friends, and my dad especially, banned me from going there after that, but earlier in the year I suggested arranging a day with Dovizioso and Petrucci and we had chance and so my dad had to let me go for once. I had a lot of fun and rode with guys who race in the European and world championships. We finished by eating sausages under the tent”.
He also had fun when Gerhard Berger and Sebastian Ogier visited the Ranch.
“As a Rally fanatic, Sebastian is one of my heroes - confesses the Doctor - We met in the UK in 2009: it was his first race in World Rally and I was also taking part, starting behind him. At the time he was only a young driver, not the champion he is now, it was an honour to have hi as a guest. He'd like to drive the car at the Ranch, maybe we'll organise it”.
Tomorrow though, his thoughts need to turn to the Barcelona GP. Something he would once have looked forward to, but now the weekend brings worry.
“At the start of my career, this was my favourite track, it's on the podium with Mugello and Phillip Island - dice - I've won a lot here in the past, but now we're having a tough time and it will be a complicated weekend. The important thing is to be realistic, stay focused and work to try and make the track a friendly one”.
No easy feat, considering the long straight and the Yamaha's speed limitations.
“But, as Morbidelli said, it's downhill, maybe that will help - jokes the Doctor, before turning serious once more - It will be important to be top ten and get into Q2, but it won't be easy. In these situations, we have to be realistic and try to do our best, hoping that Yamah does the same. We need to stay strong”.