Germany MotoGP wasn't too kind to Valentino Rossi this past weekend. The Italian headed to Sachsenring with the most wins of any other MotoGP rider at the circuit, five, but left there with a very un-Rossi like ninth after Sunday's race.
The downward spiral began for the Ducati GP11.1 rider during the opening Germany GP practice session on Friday. Rossi took a hectic tumble at the fast turn 11 on the second shortest track on the 2011 MotoGP schedule, upsetting his right shoulder that has plagued him since wrecking last season during motocross training.
Valentino Rossi returned to Sachsenring for FP2, but experienced issues on the GP11.1; a pebble from the FP1 crash affected the bike's electronics during FP2, forcing VR46 onto his backup bike. Rossi finished 12th in FP2, and could only garner another 12th in FP3, which was conducted on his main bike.
And qualifying went absolutely horrible for Rossi and the Ducati team as they struggled with front-end setup on the GP11.1. Rossi would qualifying 16th, his worse of the 2011 MotoGP Championship.
After the qualifying session, though, the Ducati Team improved on the GP11.1, finding a setting that improved Rossi's time by five tenths. Rossi then went on to finish ninth in Sunday's Sachsenring MotoGP.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: "Today went a little better. This morning in the warm-up we made a change to the setup that helped me to slightly improve the feeling compared to the very, very difficult practice sessions.
"After the opening laps, I realized that my pace was the same as that of Nicky and Bautista's group, maybe even a little faster, but I had small glitches with the gearbox in the second half of the race. It was mainly hurting me in the last corner, when I changed to third, because the bike wheelied and it took me half the straightaway before I could put it back down. At the end of the race, I wanted to pass Nicky on the brakes into the first corner, where I was pretty strong, but instead even Bautista passed me on the straight.
"Anyway, that's not where we want to be. We definitely improved today compared to Saturday, but we're still too far back. We find the race setup late, and that makes everything more difficult, but in order to improve we have to try many things, which makes it easy to lose our direction.
"It's understandable, because we don't know this bike well and I think we have to take chances and try everything. Now we'll analyze the data from this weekend and decide what to do for Laguna Seca."
Vittoriano Guareschi (Ducati Team MotoGP Manager) says: "It was a very difficult weekend, as we had to work really hard until the last minute in order to put Valentino Rossi in a position to have a decent race. Of course our goals are different from our today's results, but it's positive that we were able to find a setup, even if it was at the last minute, that let Vale lap half a second faster than in qualifying."
Next up for Valentino Rossi is Laguna Seca this coming weekend; Laguna Seca is the shortest track on the 2011 MotoGP schedule. Rossi has four podiums there, including a win.