As bad luck strikes in Misano
Valentino Rossi's hopes of a glorious homecoming to Misano ended after just five laps today, when an engine problem forced the Fiat Yamaha Team rider to retire when running strongly in fourth position.
Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards
meanwhile struggled with rear grip in the later stages and was only able to bring his YZR-M1 home in his starting position of ninth.
With thousands of passionate Italian fans looking on, Rossi started the San Marino Grand Prix from second on the grid with high hopes of an exciting podium battle with chief rival and pole-sitter Casey Stoner. He dropped one place at the start and another a few turns later as first John Hopkins and then Chris Vermeulen came through, but never got the chance to fight back as he lost power in his engine on lap five of 28 and was forced to coast home to the pits.
Edwards got a good start and rose to sixth at one point, but a lack of grip on the left side of his rear tyre meant he was unable to make any further headway through the field, eventually slipping to ninth behind Anthony West.
With Stoner the eventual winner, today's result sees Rossi's dream of a late-season championship revival slip further away as he now sits 85 points adrift in second, with a possible 125 points left available from five races. Edwards remains seventh with 100 points.
The Fiat Yamaha Team will have a one-day test here tomorrow, before heading to Portugal in ten days time for round fourteen.
"I got a good start and managed to miss the big melee with Hayden and de Puniet. Then Checa almost took me out a couple of times and the second time I had to run wide and West and a couple of others came through. Once I'd got sorted again I had my work cut out getting back by West, but then I just got my head down and got going.
Unfortunately however, the left-hand side of my tyre then started to give me trouble and I had no grip from then on. There are a lot of quick changes of direction here, turns one-two and four-five for example, and every time I had to flick it left it felt pretty scary. I had to adjust my pace accordingly and from there on in it was just survival and looking to salvage what points I could. It wasn't fun out there today to be honest!"
"At the start I felt I was lacking some temperature in my tyres and so I slipped back a little from my starting position. However apart from this I felt quite good, stable, with a good rhythm and confident that things would continue to improve as the temperature in my tyres increased. However on lap five, when I was braking hard, I suddenly felt something go and that was the end of my race. The engine was the same one that I used at the Brno test and also here in practice and it felt quite good; we don't yet know what the problem was today so we will have to wait until our engineers have had time to examine the situation.
"It would have been great, and very useful, to have a good result here in Misano today. I like the track a lot and I really wanted to do well in front of all the fans; it was a great emotion for me to see so many people in yellow. Unfortunately this wasn't the case today and now we know that the championship will be very, very difficult. Breaking down after just a few laps is frustrating and unlucky, especially because today we had good expectations and we had been fast during practice. But when bad things like this happen you have only two choices; give up or come straight back and start working again even harder than before. This is what we will do at Yamaha; me, my team, the engineers - everyone involved. We still have five races left and we will keep trying to get the result we deserve. Once again Stoner deserved to win today, so well done to him. We have a lot of work to do before Estoril."
"We used the new engine today and unfortunately something went wrong. We don't know yet exactly what, we won't be able to tell until our engineers have had a lot more time to look at it. It might not have been anything to do with the new technology, we need to check but this can happen and this is racing. It's just very disappointing for everyone and especially all the thousands of fans who came today to cheer Valentino on. Colin had some rear grip issues and he tried his best but unfortunately he too was not able to get the result he deserved. We have to look forward to Estoril now and keep working; we know that all the Yamaha engineers are very busy trying to improve our situation and we have confidence in them. Thanks to everyone for their hard work; we know we are capable of winning and so we will just keep trying."