Rossi: Pressure caused Stoner's crash
|By Michele Lostia and Matt Beer||Sunday, August 31st 2008, 14:12 GMT|
Valentino Rossi believes the pressure he was putting Casey Stoner under was the key factor in the champion's crash when leading the San Marino Grand Prix.
For the second race in a row, Stoner fell from first position while being pursued by Rossi, who went on to take his third straight victory and extend his championship lead to 75 points.
Rossi had lost touch with Stoner after being passed by Dani Pedrosa on the first lap, but he soon overtook the Honda and had stabilised Stoner's lead at three seconds before the Australian crashed.
"He was pushing, and at that point he'd always take a very tight line, also in practice," Rossi told Italia1 television.
"For sure he braked a bit too hard and he lost the front. He slid while he was pushing hard and I was going more or less like him, so he was trying to increase the lead.
"However, as we've shown many times, if we are in good shape especially in race trim we aren't much slower than him. Except for two or three times, I finished in front of him more often than he has.
"So maybe he tried to push a bit harder and he lost the front. Today the surface was a bit more slippery. On that corner I too had some warnings."
But while Rossi was confident that he had the same pace as Stoner, he admitted that he would probably not have been able to catch the Ducati.
"Casey pushed a lot, but he couldn't go far away from me," said Rossi in the press conference. "Some laps I gained, some laps I lost. It was a long race and I don't know if it was possible to catch him. But anyway I was happy because my settings were okay and when I saw him slide away, I thought for the championship it was very positive for us."
The Misano race is the closest MotoGP round to Rossi's home, and he conceded that the pressure had affected him prior to the race - especially as he had retired early last year.
"I felt nervous before the race because here at Misano I have all my friends, all my family, only my dog didn't come..." he said.
"So it was difficult to keep the concentration. There was a lot of pressure on my back, always positive, but I felt quite nervous because in practice we had struggled a lot with the settings. Also last year was very bad and we broke the engine after three laps."
The result meant that Rossi has now equalled Giacomo Agostini's record of 68 top class race wins - although Rossi assured his fellow Italian legends that his overall records were not under threat.
"I promised him I won't reach his other records, because 122 victories - or 123 as he says - is tough, and so is 15 titles," Rossi joked.