SACHSENRING, July 19 – Valentino Rossi said he found it "easier" racing with a broken leg after narrowly missing out on a podium finish at the German MotoGP on his comeback from injury on Sunday.The reigning world champion returned to action just 42 days after sustaining an exposed fracture of the right tibia in a crash at Mugello but came close to snatching a top-three finish during a last-lap tussle with Casey Stoner.
"I really loved that battle with Stoner at the end, it was great and I enjoyed it," said Rossi, who now stands sixth in the riders’ standings.
"I’m still missing something in certain conditions, like for example at the beginning of the race, with the new tyres, but this race is worth its weight in gold for me."
Only a late lunge on the final corner by Stoner denied the 98,000 spectators the remarkable sight of Rossi hobbling onto the podium on crutches.
"It was easier with a broken leg, and very comfortable from a psychological perspective, because I was there to enjoy myself as I’m no longer in contention for the championship," said Rossi.
"It was similar to my fights with Stoner at Laguna Seca (in the United States) or with (Jorge) Lorenzo in Barcelona."
The Yamaha rider said he would be targeting the podium at Laguna Seca next weekend, but estimated that he would not be reaching top form until San Marino on September 5.
Australian Stoner now lies fourth in the overall standings after his third consecutive top-three finish but is 102 points behind leader Lorenzo of Yamaha.
"I’ve had so many scraps with him (Rossi)," said the Ducati rider.
"I don’t know if it was the best, but it was definitely one of the best."