Valentino Rossi said he found it “easier” racing with a broken leg despite a frantic fight with Australian Casey Stoner at the German Grand Prix.
The Italian narrowly missed out on a podium finish at his comeback race, won by Spaniard Dani Pedrosa from Yamaha’s title leader Jorge Lorenzo and Stoner.
Rossi, who was on crutches after the grand prix, returned to racing less than two months after breaking his leg in Mugello.
The seven-times champion’s battle with Stoner was the highlight of the round, with both riders touching at high speed at times.
“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.”
A late lunge by Stoner on the final corner won the Australian his third consecutive podium finish, but Rossi unnerved his rivals later with his comments.
“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,” Rossi said.
“It was similar to my fights with Stoner at Laguna Seca (in the US) 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.
The Australian said he was wary of Rossi after a crash forced a re-start after nine laps of the Sachsenring circuit.
He said he could not stay with Pedrosa and Lorenzo in the first part of the race, but a tyre change before the restart enabled him to make up ground.
“We saw in the first race that Valentino’s pace was a little better than ours and that proved to be the case again in the second race,” Stoner said.
“He was taking big chunks of time out of me and to be honest once he got past I didn’t think I’d be able to follow.”
“I tried really hard to stay in there and we had a good battle with a lot of nice passes.”
“I tried one last time at the bottom of the hill, where he tried to close the line on me but I was already there.”
“We touched but it was a good, clean fight and I’m just pleased to come away with a podium.”
“I’ve had so many scraps with him,” Stoner continued. “I don’t know if it was the best, but it was definitely one of the best.”