Valentino Rossi has ruled out any chance of victory at Laguna Seca this weekend, and insists he still does not expect to be back to his best until Misano in September.
The MotoGP champion returned to the sport in Germany last weekend, six weeks after suffering a broken leg in a Mugello practice crash. He was extremely competitive at the Sachsenring and only just missed out on a podium finish when Casey Stoner got past him at the final corner.
Although he set the second-fastest race lap and was just five seconds behind winner Dani Pedrosa at the finish in Germany, Rossi said he still feels rusty after his absence and needs more races to get up to speed.
"I think the mental side is more than the physical condition," he said. "When I feel very good and am working well, I feel my leg is stronger and my physical condition improves. The target remains to arrive at 100 percent by Misano, and we'll try to do it before if possible.
"At Laguna I'll try to do better [than in Germany], but I think I'm still not ready to try to win."
He admitted that in some ways racing was currently easier mentally as his title chances were now extremely remote.
"From the mental side in one way it's easy, because you have less pressure – you don't have to win, like it has been in the whole of my career, more or less," Rossi said.
The Yamaha rider added that it was now just a case of getting re-acclimatized to racing situations as he had few physical problems. He was particularly pleased with the progress of the shoulder he injured in a Motocross accident several weeks before the Mugello incident.
"The shoulder is what I am most happy about," said Rossi. "I crashed on April 15, and I had a lot of problems and a lot of pain at Jerez and Le Mans.
"When I stayed in bed for 15 days [with the broken leg], my shoulder became a lot worse because it became more tight and I lost a lot of movement. So I was very frustrated then and worried that I'd have to have another operation. But I worked a lot in the swimming pool, my situation improved a lot and [in the race] no pain."