Franky Morbidelli has now completed two MotoGP races in Monster Energy Yamaha colours in his comeback from knee surgery.
While his race in Austin was a difficult one - Morbidelli came in last of the 19 finishers - the Italian puts his struggles down to the anti-clockwise nature of the COTA circuit and is therefore looking forward to returning to Misano in two weeks time.
“Yeah, unfortunately I could just make eight laps more or less, seven, eight laps on this track and then I had to slow down a lot my pace, because it wouldn't have been possible to finish the race at that pace,” Morbidelli explained after the American outing.
“I just had no more strength on the leg, I just couldn't pull it up properly in the left corners, in the left brakings, and then changing direction just with the arms and not using the legs was really difficult on the bumps. So was really tough. Toughest race of the year for everybody, for sure but for me, toughest race ever because the physical conditions I'm in right now.
“It was a challenge, it really was a challenge but overall it's a positive weekend. Was a positive weekend for me, we improved the speed, I improved the feeling with the bike, and I was able to make steps ahead. We saw in practice that I was more ahead than in Misano. So this is positive.
“Now we have two weeks between here and Misano, so I'll try to heal up some more, and workout some more and I'm curious to go to Misano and see some improvements. I hope to see some improvements, because I think that we worked well in this weekend and also in Misano tests, so I hope and I think we will see some improvements. Let's see, on track.”
With a race and a test already dispatched at his local track, he has a benchmark to measure his recovery against next time out, but the Yamaha rider is remaining realistic in his progress.
“This is a recovery that takes six months to heal up and we are definitely forcing the time,” Morbidelli admitted. “Is now three months and some days since the operation. We gotta be careful, for sure. We got to be careful but everything is going fine. I mean, I have pain, but is sustainable pain, I can handle it with painkillers, and as you saw I needed to slow down my pace here in the race but I can handle some laps in practice, I can handle that.
“In Misano, which is a track that turns to the right, I was able to make the whole race with a steady pace. Here wasn't the case because the track is really demanding and it turns left. But I think this is really important, these kilometres we are doing right now, and the contact I'm getting with the team right now, is really important for next year for sure.
“For sure, I'm not thinking now about next year, I'm just thinking race by race. I'm engaged already, I want to improve, get better and make races, and improve the feeling. The condition is not ideal, but it's really important for next year. It's really important to be on the bike.”