The punishing COTA conditions meant Franco Morbidelli‘s second MotoGP race as a Monster Yamaha rider proved tougher than the first.
Sidelined since June by knee surgery, Morbidelli had returned to make a debut with the factory team at Misano, where he finished 18th and +36s.
But that increased to 19th and +50s in Texas as the long, challenging and bumpy track took its toll on the Italian, who had qualified 13th but faded steadily back to last place.
“The race was very, very tough,” Morbidelli admitted. “I wasn‘t in the condition to fully perform in the race because this track is really demanding on the body and I‘m still recovering, and 20 laps here with my physical condition were really tough. At some point I was just trying to get the bike to the end.
“At the beginning of the race, when I was still able to, I wanted to push a little and make some more kilometres to learn and adapt more to the bike. We got some interesting information that we can analyse, and we can do something with it for Misano.
“The next GP weekend is in three weeks, so I will have some more time to heal and prepare for that race. This is positive, and overall it was a positive weekend. We understand better which direction to take.
“Of course, the result is not what we wanted, but this is like a pre-season for us. We have to see it in this way. We are collecting interesting data for the next races.”
Team director Massimo Meregalli added: “Franky really suffered because he is still recovering. His result doesn‘t really do credit to the hard work he put in and the improvements he and his crew made over the weekend, but that is the way it is for now. We are sure he will be feeling much better again after the two weeks‘ rest before the Misano 2 race weekend.”
While Morbidelli’s team-mate Fabio Quartararo now has one hand on the riders’ title, Ducati has narrowly overtaken Yamaha for the lead of both the constructors’ and teams’ world championships, meaning any points Morbidelli can score in the last three rounds could prove vital.