Valentino Rossi converted a front row start into his sixth podium of the 2013 season at the shortened Australian Grand Prix. The race became a 19 lap dash with mandated pitstops at half distance because of severe tyre blistering due to the high grip track surface at Philip Island.
After the race Rossi was delighted to have finished third after a stirring battle with Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista.
When asked for his thoughts on the sports first flag to flag race in dry conditions Rossi said:
“I liked that race,” said Rossi. “I’m happy because we managed to do good work in the pits and I think that it’s my first podium in a flag to flag race.”
Changing bikes can be tricky for riders but having struggled with handling problems on his first bike Rossi was glad to be able to jump on his second bike and ride aggressively for the final nine laps as he fought with Crutchlow and Bautista.
“With the first bike I had problems with the rear, I had a big moment at the last corner, and lost two positions with Cal and Alvaro. At the change of bike I was able to overtake them another time. The second part of the race I enjoyed more because I was faster and I had a big battle with Cal on the last laps.
On the last lap I pushed a lot with him and it started to rain, you see streaks on the visor but don’t understand how much rain, but it was the last lap for the podium so I had to try for the maximum and it was OK. I’m so happy to be back on the podium at Philip Island because it’s always a great atmosphere and for me I’m so proud. Now we have to continue to work and I look forward to Motegi next Sunday.”
With Marc Marquez having missed the pit window and been disqualified by Race Direction it was interesting to hear how each rider approached the race knowing that they were required to stop and change bikes. When asked how he had made his decision Rossi admitted that a he stopped later than expected in a bid to jump ahead of Bautista:
“In the race I decided to stop on the first lap but for me it was to have less confusion in the pits with Jorge. But on the first lap with the box I was battling with Bautista and I couldn’t see the board. When I was exiting turn 11 and could see Bautista entering the pits I thought that ‘not now’ so I stopped on the next lap.”