Rossi Pays Price for Unhealed Shoulder in Qatar

Valentino Rossi and Ducati need a lot of improvement this season if we are to judge from the former's 7th place finish in the season opening Qatar GP.

Despite a strong start on Sunday night, when he jumped from 7th to 2nd place in a few hundred of meters, the Doctor was unable to keep the pace with the front-running pack and eventually finished the race some 16 seconds down to winner Casey Stoner. And while he reckoned he wasn't in contention for a winning performance in Qatar, Rossi insisted some factors could have helped him finish higher in the overall classification.

And one of those factors is the never-ending pain in his shoulder – it certainly comes up a lot lately – which obviously affected his running in the last part of the race. While running in the same league as Honda's Andrea Dovizioso and Gresini's Marco Simoncelli at one point, he slowly but gradually lost pace in the late stages of the race to eventually finish more than 10 seconds behind the duo.

I had a great start, and that was a nice feeling because the horsepower that this bike has really helps it to launch,” said Rossi after the race. “Then I made a small error in the first turn, which is a shame because I got stuck behind [Hector] Barbera for a few laps. Otherwise I would have been closer to [Marco] Simoncelli and [Andrea] Dovizioso, since anyway there was a period when I lapped with them.

I wouldn't have beaten them though, because at the end of the race, I'm no longer able to ride like I have to. I'm not referring to the Ducati because even last year, after I hurt my shoulder, I had the same problems in the latter parts of the races, and since the two bikes are so different, it means that it's really a matter of me not being physically right.”

However, the Italian admitted that a lot of work is to be done on his Desmosedici GP11 in the long run this season, as both him and the team have identified the areas that need improving in 2011. For the time being though, Ducati will settle for working on different set-ups every other weekend in order to maximize the potential of the GP11 at each circuit.

We'll keep gathering experience, and I'll continue exercising and doing everything I can to recuperate physically,” said Rossi.
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