While his teammate stormed out of the gates to clinch a stunning and untouchable victory in his last appearance for Yamaha on Sunday afternoon at the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, Valentino Rossi’s efforts can not be diminished as he also put up a strong fight and brought his YZR-M1 over the line in fourth place to help give Yamaha its seventh FIM MotoGP Team Title.
Rossi had a good start from the first row on the grid and slotted in behind Maverick Viñales after riding side-by-side through the first corners. He took a few laps to heat up his tyres before turning up the pressure on the Spaniard on lap four. Not wanting to let the front riders escape, Rossi slipped past him in turn 14, all the while being followed by Marquez.
The nine-time World Champion next set his sights on Iannone and it didn‘t take him long to tag onto the back of his compatriot. What followed was a sensational battle for second place that lasted over 24 laps. Rossi‘s first attack on lap six was successful, but he had to let Iannone past over the line. The Italians then further delighted the race fans at the eighteenth and final Grand Prix of the season with brilliant scraps, swapping places on many occasions.
With Marquez getting into the mix with twelve laps to go, proceedings intensified even more. In turn 2 Marquez overtook Rossi. The Doctor bided his time in the last eleven laps, ready to pounce when the opportunity arose. Over the last seven and a half minutes, as Marquez started to get away, he tried to take over third place from Iannone, but their fight lost him valuable time.
With two laps to go Rossi had a final try at securing a place on the podium. Though he was unable to make it stick, he ended up taking valuable points with a hard-fought fourth position, finishing 7.668s from his teammate.
“I was pushing from the beginning to the end and the first half of the race wasn‘t so bad because I was in second position, but I wasn‘t fast enough to make a gap and after that I suffered on the second part,” Rossi said. “Marquez was very strong, so he arrived in second place and after that I had a fight with Iannone. Unfortunately he beat me because he was faster, so just fourth place for me today, but it was a good race.”
“The 2016 season brought a lot of positive things; second place in the championship, a lot of podiums and front row starts. Next year I want to try to win more races, more than two, but we are always competitive. Unfortunately I made some mistakes and I was a bit unlucky with the engine in Mugello so I was a bit too far behind in the championship, but anyway it was a good season.”
Today the team will enjoy a well-deserved day off before they kick off the two-day first official pre-season IRTA test of the 2017 season on Tuesday November 15th in Valencia.