Even at the Austin test back in March you could tell that Valentino Rossi was dreading the Indy round of the MotoGP championship.
An informal test, Rossi rode occasionally but largely sat and talked with friends, drank Diet Coke and ate pasta for those few days in Texas. When Indy came up as a topic of conversation he looked away and said, "I donna like the track so much ..."
Some Rossi observers feel that the Doctor hasn't been himself here since he crashed in the 2009 race while chasing Lorenzo. That was a surprise crash that put Rossi on the deck, hard, and afterward he looked stunned. Has he been comfortable at Indy since then? Good question.
Last night he said, "I have very much problem, especially brake and entry. I cannot arrive to a level, and after, when I try more, I have too much movement on the front, and I did some mistake. I have two moments with the front, so I lose a lot of feeling, and at the end of the position, and also the distance from the top guy is very high. For me, tomorrow in the race, for, about the pace, we are not very far. Like this afternoon. But anyway, have a lot of people that is fast, and also constant. So we have to try to improve the pace also, from which setting we decide to use, which rear tire, and which try to take as much as possible."
Rossi's feeling with the Yamaha at Indy has regressed to the point where he can't be completely comfortable on it. "... here is a little bit more like at the beginning of the season," he said. "This track, I think, is the worst for me, always struggling a lot. During the four practice we try to do everything, but at the end was not enough."
Indy and Rossi have never gelled after their initial success. He set pole and won the first Indy GP in 2008. In 2009 he whacked his shoulder on the ground in a race crash. In 2011 he sat in the Ducati garage with his head in his hands after a bad qualifying attempt. 2013 was only slightly better.
Qualifying ninth is "... a bad result, today, and I think that also for tomorrow will be hard, will be another tough race," Rossi said. "I know, at least I expect that this track is a bit more difficult, but I hope to stay anyway in front, but unfortunately is not enough."