Valentino Rossi is one of only two riders that has competed at all thirteen previous MotoGP races held in the USA (along with Texan Colin Edwards). This weekend’s Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas will be the 35th different circuit that Rossi has raced at since he started his MotoGP career in 2002. The 34 year old Italian, affectionately called “The Doctor,” is a worldwide fan favorite who is known for his animated expressions, playful antics and fun-loving attitude. Rossi will line up eighth on the grid for tomorrow’s race after qualifying with a best lap time of 2’05.380. Following the session, we listened in on the following interview.
VR: We expect to go better but we have to be able to fix the problem in braking and especially the first part; I lose too much. But anyway, we have tomorrow...we know that this weekend, this track can be more difficult. We have to make a good race, to try to achieve some position and take some point.
Media: Which would be the best combination of tyres for tomorrow?
VR: Eh, I don’t know but I think hard or soft. I think, more or less, everybody. So I have some question mark but I think (hard).
Media: So it seems as if the Hondas are in a different league. Can you catch them or is it a case of catching the rest?
VR: Yeah, the Honda is very fast, yeah. And…bigger. They have a big advantage, I think. I think would be difficult.
Media: Best of the rest?
VR: Eh, ha ha, difficult. But easy if we are able to prove the setting we can; the target is try to stay with Crutchlow, try to stay with Bradl, and after, we’ll see.
Needless to say, Valentino seems honest about the performance of the Yamaha leading into tomorrow's race. Knowing that they do not have the pace of the Hondas and are struggling with grip on track, Rossi will push hard to continue to develop the bike.
Despite a challenging weekend so far, "The Doctor" has consistently had swarms of fans waiting outside of the Yamaha Factory Team pit boxes and throughout the paddock to snap a photo, snag an autograph or simply wish him "Buona fortuna!" His fans are unscathed; their enthusiasm is only rivaled by his charisma and it's easy to see why he is one of the most beloved riders and ambassadors in the MotoGP paddock.