MADRID • Valentino Rossi and Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo have expressed regrets about their behaviour as they prepare for a tense and controversy-laden MotoGP title showdown in Valencia, Spain, this weekend.
Italian Rossi, who must start from last place tomorrow after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his appeal over being relegated to the back of the grid for the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, told reporters on Thursday that he regretted the move in Malaysia that kicked off the furore.
The championship leader, seven points clear of Spaniard Lorenzo and needing to finish in the top two in Valencia to be guaranteed the title, collected the grid penalty after kicking Marc Marquez off his bike, an incident that took Honda's outgoing champion out of the race.
"I just regret going wide and not following my normal line," said Rossi when asked if he regretted anything from the last two weeks.
"But I am here and we have to try the maximum and stay concentrated, try to do good work during the weekend and arrive competitive as fast as possible for the race."
The 36-year-old Italian said "starting from last is going to make everything a lot more difficult". "It was already difficult but now it is much harder," he added.
CROSSING THE LINE
I just regret going wide and not following my normal line.''
VALENTINO ROSSI on whether he regretted anything from the past two weeks
The gesture I made on the podium was a mistake. I regret that.''
JORGE LORENZO on the thumbs-down gesture he made at Rossi on the Malaysian GP podium
Lorenzo, speaking separately, said he regretted the thumbs-down gesture he made against his team-mate on the Malaysian podium as the Italian collected the third-place trophy.
"I just want to say the gesture I made on the podium was a mistake," said Lorenzo, who finished second. "I regret that. it's not a sporting example, especially for young people watching MotoGP around the world."
Marquez, who is out of contention for the title, said he had not changed his opinion about what happened in Malaysia but was not expecting to talk to Rossi until after the championship is decided.
The Marquez-Rossi clash has sparked an age-old sporting rivalry between Spain and Italy.
Even the prime ministers of both countries have intervened to support their compatriots.
Rossi is sure to face a hostile atmosphere in Valencia with the race - unusually for MotoGP - being declared high risk by the authorities over fears that fans could clash.
"My dream was to fight for the championship in a clean way," said Rossi. "The season has been a very good one and I am still in position to fight for the title."
The fallout from the incident escalated last weekend when two Italian journalists tried to enter Marquez's Catalan home and were reported to the police for assaulting and insulting the 22-year-old rider and his family.
"It has been a tough week," Marquez said on Thursday. "I've tried to prepare for this Grand Prix like any other but it hasn't been possible."
Vito Ippolito, president of motorcycling's governing body, said changes would be made next year to prevent such a controversy happening again.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
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