Valentino Rossi Considering Skipping Estoril And Valencia To Have Shoulder Surgery

When Valentino Rossi spoke to the press after struggling to a 6th place finish in the MotoGP race at Motorland Aragon, he revealed just how bad his shoulder problem has been. The Italian injured his shoulder in a training accident back in April, and since then has struggled with a painful and weak shoulder. Rossi's problems have been disguised in part by his broken leg, which he suffered so spectacularly at Mugello, and which caused the Italian to miss races for the first time in his professional career.

Rossi had hoped that the injury would improve sufficiently to see out the 2010 season, but after the race at Aragon, he told the press that he was seriously considering having surgery to correct the problem, and miss the last two races of the season at Estoril and Valencia. Rossi said he would first test his fitness at the next three flyaway rounds at Motegi, Sepang, and Phillip Island in October, before making a final decision on having surgery.

Here's what Rossi had to say to the press:

Question: How much of what we saw today was down to the shoulder?

Valentino Rossi: Yes, very much. But it is something altogether, because also at this track, everybody have some problem with the M1, Jorge also. But for me, this is a big problem because I cannot ride like I want, and we make the setting more so I have less pain than for the best performance.

Q: So there must be a temptation that if you cannot perform better than this with a shoulder like this...

VR: Yes. I think we have to try to race at the next three races [Motegi, Sepang and Phillip Island]. Unfortunately we have Motegi in front, which is the worst track for the shoulder. But after we have Australia and Sepang where we have to try to race, especially because I rode in Sepang with the same bike when I was fit, so is interesting to understand, and after Australia and Sepang we will find a decision.

Q: Does that mean there's a possibility that you'll have an operation before the end of the season?

VR: At this moment, we only decide to go to the next three races, and after we will decide about the last two.

Q: Will you postpone the operation and continue riding if it doesn't make it worse?

VR: No, the shoulder doesn't become worse, it isn't damaged when I ride the bike, it remains constant.

Q: You'll race at Phillip Island?

VR: Yes, I think so, Phillip Island and Sepang are very important. For this moment, we decide to race at the three.

Q: But if something got worse during the three, you may change?

VR: We don't know. We don't know. We will wait to see the performance, because it looks like I cannot ride like I want, and I'm not fast enough anyway. But like I say, Phillip Island and Sepang are good tracks for to understand 100% if I am in a good way to finish the season, and maybe to try the bike after Valencia.

Q: Is this type of result the best you can do at the moment?

VR: Today? Yes. But in Misano, I was fast, and was not so bad. But I am sure that our M1 will be more competitive in the next races.

Q: Lorenzo said he's going to have a new engine in Japan. Will you have a new engine too?

VR: I think that if the engine is ready, I will have it.

Q: It looks like the shoulder is very painful now, from the way you're standing.

VR: After the race a little bit, yes. Because today, I race without painkillers. Because I decided to have a little bit of pain and not take anything, because anyway, also without pain, I don't have more strength. So it's just a pain problem. But my real problem is the strength, not the pain.

Q: How long is the recovery for the surgery?

VR: Two months.

Q: Have you been surprised at how big a problem the shoulder has been? Were you expecting it to recover more quickly?

VR: Yes, for sure yes! The problem is that we understand that the problem of the shoulder is not one problem, but two problems. And the second one gives me more problems when I ride the bike.

Q: What's your point of view about the horsepower of the Yamaha when compared to the others?

VR: For me, our bike is a little bit more slow, it also was before, compared to Honda and Ducati. But it looks like Honda and Ducati had more problem with the front then, and our bike is more balanced. It looks like now our bike is not worse, but that Honda and Ducati fix the problem. This is the problem for us.

Q: How do you manage mentally this problem? You are used to winning so often.

VR: I know that I am not at the maximum, so I'm sad, but not desperate.

Q: With the engine situation the way it is, do you have to take more risks on the Yamaha to be at the front now? Does Jorge have to take more risks?

VR: Yes, because what you lose on the straights, you have to recover in the corners. But it will be very difficult when you have people like Stoner and Pedrosa in a good shape with a very good setting. So it is quite impossible, very difficult to improve a lot in the corner and regain what you lose in the straight. But to close, I think this racetrack is very bad for the M1, but the next races will be better.

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It seems that Rossi may be using this as the leverage to remind Yamaha that it might be in their best interests to release him early so he can test for Ducati after Valencia. If so, it seems he wins either way... if he is not going to be able to test after Valencia then he has more time to recuperate... and if Yamaha releases him then he gets to do the test.

It seems that proposing to miss the last two races would be directed at Dorna, who, given they would lose millions of viewers, would in turn pressure Yamaha to let him test, thus retaining millions of viewers for the races he would no longer miss and garnering millions more who would watch him test the GP11 for the first time.

How much "leverage" does Rossi really have at this point?

Seems to me Yamaha holds all the cards here: Rossi needs Yamaha to release him. Yamaha has the rider who (most likely) will win the title this year, and a very solid lineup for 2011 already set.

To put it mildly, it's entirely possible that a decision by Rossi to end his season early this way -- i.e. to, more or less, make sure he'll be as well prepared/recovered as possible for 2011, WHEN HE'LL BE RIDING FOR DUCATI -- will not exactly be welcomed by Yamaha.

TBH, if I was running Yamaha and Rossi did that, I would be very strongly tempted to refuse to release him for testing.

Which might be a moot point, since he may not actually be strong enough by then to test anyway.

When Rossi has success he shows sides of his character I don't like, summed up I perceive him as arrogant and disrespectful to other racers.

But in a situation like he's now, where he has to fight, he wins my respect. This comment

But it will be very difficult when you have people like Stoner and Pedrosa in a good shape with a very good setting. So it is quite impossible, very difficult to improve a lot in the corner...

is the closest admission I can remember of that he considers Dani and Casey at his own skill level.

The other thought I had - could it be that Casey's missed races last year, due to his strange illness, paved the way for Rossi considering to not further pursuit a futile mission, trying to win races when his body says NO?

I'd have thought Yamaha would be over the moon if Rossi couldn't make the last two races and more importantly, the Valencia and Jerez tests due to a buggered shoulder needing surgery..It negates them being branded as unsportsmanlike by denying a fit Val the chance to test the GP11, possibly twice if it's confirmed Jerez will be an extra test at the end of November, yet has the same outcome, maintaining an advantage over Ducati in development of 2011 machinery.

There isn't anything unsportsmanlike about that. What other factories have let riders test their next years bikes when they've already signed with another company? I doubt Ducati is gonna let Stoner test the GP11.

And as for everyone who said Rossi didn't already have the surgery because "he's a racer and racers race" well it looks Rossi is considering just like I said any normal person would do which is come back healthy ready to fight for the title with his new employer instead of still just getting points for Yamaha which really he owes nothing to.

Stoner was already given the ok to test the Honda after the Valencia race.

Not sure why he would want to test the GP11, when he should be more concerned with the Honda he will ride in 2011. The issue is whether Yamaha will release Rossi at the end of the race season so he can test his new bike, the GP11, not the new M1.

That shouldn't even be an issue though. This is something that Dorna should step up to and address. If a rider is signed to a different team for the next year they should be allowed to test that bike and not test of the bike of the team they're leaving.

I mean you could make a ton of examples but say a player on a NFL teams was able to sign with a different team halfway into the season you wouldn't expect the team to show him their playbook for next year which is basically what all this amounts to imo.

You say that it shouldn't be an issue. Well, that is the issue, whether we like it or not. There is what is often called a gentlemen's agreement to release riders from their contracts early if they are switching factories but it is not always honored. Dorna has no control over it.

Rossi is under contract to Yamaha until the end of the year. That means December 31st 2010. Not the end of the race season. Clearly, as Rossi is headed to Ducati, Rossi will not be testing the 2011 M1. Nobody on here has insinuated anything like that but that seems to be the point that you are arguing against. No need to argue, it won't happen. It doesn't make any sense. If Yamaha keeps Rossi under contract during the test, they simply don't allow him to test their new bike. And since he won't be needed to ride, he will have the necessary treatment started on his shoulder to increase the recovery window size.

If Valentino Rossi is fit enough to test a motorcycle the week of 8-12 November in Valencia, it will be a Ducati. Yamaha holds the key on whether that will be allowed.

I had written a really nice piece that some readers would have been quite proud of but then I thought K.I.S.S.. That is Keep It Simple Stupid... So here it goes

Yamaha Does Release Rossi from his contract after the last race such that he can test for Ducati.

Option 1: Rossi tests the Ducati, provides some input, shakes a few hands, poses for a few photos, and then heads to the doctors for treatment

Option 2: Rossi's shoulder is of such concern he decides to get a jump start on the recovery by getting a jump start on the treatment. Rossi skips the test (and possibly 1 or more races) to have the treatment/surgery done to his shoulder, giving him the best chance of full fitness by the time the 2011 season gets started.

Yamaha Doesn't Release Rossi from his contract after the last race AKA he can't test for Ducati until 2011.

Option 1: Rossi finishes out the season, and instead of testing heads straight to the doctors to get treatment/surgery. Documents the flames on the bridge for his next autobiography.

Option 2: Rossi heads to sick bay before the end of the season to get a reasonable jump start on the recovery for the 2011 season. The chatter now is that he may skip the Estoril and Valencia rounds. (the question about this one is how is it viewed contractually, will he be allowed, will he have to forego some salary, what will the sponsors say and so on).

That is it. Nowhere in there is there a possibility of him testing the 2011 M1.

My point was that regardless of if he is still signed to Yamaha he should freely be allowed to test the Ducati. I know that Dorna may not play a huge part in this now but I think it would make sense if they got with the factories and teams and I don't know if mandate would be the right word but strongly encourage the contracts to expire and begin after the last race of the season instead of the end of the year as they do now.

OK then. Strongly encourage. I am sure that they do that sort of thing in many instances.

The early surgery move could be designed to allow Valentino to avoid the public spectacle of him not getting what he wanted. Part of Vale's magic (besides winning a lot!) is always seeming to end up holding the clean end of the stick. Yamaha has no debt to release Rossi early, he walked, and trying to bitch about a faceless Japanese company's decision would be hard to pull off and not look like a whiner.

From what Rossi says (which is always well planned) even if Yamaha did release him for the Valencia test he would not be 100% fit as the shoulder is injured. Would he really want to give Ducati injury-influenced feedback? It is significantly affecting his M1's setup and he knows that bike like the back of his hand. Shoulder injuries are difficult to recover from, no Ti screws and plates can help with soft tissue damage. He may realize that spending months of recovery and careful training may be better for his 2011 season than a few hours testing on the bike, especially if he sees both Nicky and Casey continue to do well. Although if he wins straightaway on the Duc he may have to end up thanking Nicky for his off season development work. That would be a nice stick in Puig's eye!


I don't want to start rumours here but maybe Rossi's shoulder really F-ing hurts all the time and he wants to get surgery to fix it so he can perform like the elite athlete he is...just a thought. Could be true.

I wonder if Yamaha will let Spies ride Rossi's bike if he bows out? I'd vote for Rossi to get his surgery since it's pretty clear he can't fight as is and giving Spies an early shot on that team would give them a better shot to take points away from Pedrosa.

Huh that's a good question but I have a feeling that somehow that may not be allowed. Although if Yamaha stuck that engine and some other bits inside of a Tech 3 fairing for Spies to ride may be a different story.

MotoGP only requires you fill an empty seat if a rider is going to miss 3 or more races. And since Rossi is only looking at the last two, that means Yamaha wouldn't be required to fill it. And, without that requirement, I imagine they're going to have a tough time convincing Herve Poncharal to give up his star kid for the final two races.

Spies may be contracted to Yamaha, but he still rides for Tech 3, who have sponsors to please.

Without a special ruling by IRTA (or the GPC?) Spies must ride for the team he contracted with at the start of the year.

More important, Spies cannot use Rossi's motors. since the motors are assigned to riders. Only a replacement rider can use another riders motors and Spies technically cannot be a replacement rider as long as he is capable of riding for Tech 3.

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I don't think Spies would replace Rossi if he misses any races at the end of the season, but I think it would be the Rookie Rule that would prevent him from doing so, and not engines or contracts. Kallio replaced Stoner last year, even though he was contacted to ride for Pramac. The replacement rider would use up the replacee rider's engines. And whoever replaced Spies at Tech3 would use his engine allotment. But then, everything is at the discretion of the governing bodies, and all this is VERY hypothetical.

I am a little off in my previous point. Spies cannot take Rossi's bike but for a dofferent reason than I stated earlier. As we learned the last time Rossi was out, the rules allow ANYONE - including Spies - to replace Rossi.

However, the rules also allow only one replacement per season. So, according to the rules. NO ONE can replace Rossi without an exception from IRTA/DORNA/FIM. However, I would expect that the exception would be granted since it is in no one's interest to have a rider out.

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On the aussie telecast the announcers were talking and saying that back when darryl beattie was racing, if a racer wasnt fighting for the championship and had an injury that couldnt be fixed it was a no-brainer that they'd get the surgery done straight away and miss races, however when rossi missed races earlier this year 2 million people stopped watching on tv in italy alone.
you can imagine that rossi will be getting pressure in all directions, dorna and yamaha will mostl likely want him to see the season out, whereas i can imagine ducati will be pushing the other way.
im sure he simply wants to get his injury fixed and ride at the pointy end, but when you're a phenomenon like rossi nothing is simple

Good points all - but as far as TV ratings go - the world cup was going on exactly during the time of Rossi's absence - and I think this was also a big factor in the less impressive ratings !?! To me (as an american- who does'nt not know jack about football / soccer - ) It would not of mattered so as much if Rossi was there or not - the ratings would have still been down due to the world cup.

I also find it interesting that Crutlow does not want to race prior to testing and Rossi is wanting to take the last 2 races off to get his shoulder in order? (If more than 2 races they need a replacement - coincedence? I think not).

Sounds like a game hardball going on here?.... I reckon, if they let Vale test the Ducati (thus more ratings and more $$ Dorna etc) than he'll race the remainder of the season. If not - Adios - and kiss the $$ good by for the last 2 races bringing the politics to bear on Yamaha.

One other question - Does anybody *Really Think* that Fiat - Yamaha's title sponsor - an Italian company - owned by Ferrari, would prevent Vale from Testing the Duc? This, to me is laughable..... I can't imagine Monster or Fastweb etc would mind either. Especially since Ducati offered to paint the duc blue.

Furusawa said: “From a contract standpoint he will not be allowed to test after Valencia. It is not just between Valentino and Yamaha, we have a lot of sponsors and contracts and it is really difficult to convince all of the people who are involved in this issue. So it is really difficult to allow Valentino to test at Valencia.”

Furusawa though has enjoyed an intimate relationship with Rossi since he signed the Italian at the end of 2003.

And it is clear that his personal view is Rossi should be released.

“My personal view is I am a fan of Valentino’s and I would release him to Ducati after Valencia. But as this moment I can’t say anything,“ added Furusawa.

Actually, Rossi planning to fake his shoulder surgery. Some movie makeup artists will put a fake scar on his shoulder, and then he's going to set fastest lap on a Ducati GP11 with the wick turned all the way up (no engine or fuel restrictions).

After his last run, he's going to limp off his bike while cradling his weak arm with his good arm. The pope is going to rush over to Rossi and kiss his hand.

It's going to be an epic photo op.

I've been hoping and praying for EXACTLY this announcement! BRAVO! BRAVISSIMO! Riding hurt is a bad idea when you're in the hunt for the WC, but when exactly NOTHING is at stake, it's best to not risk making things worse. This is such a wise decision. I SO hope he does it.

I want his shoulder to be healthy for the post-Valencia test, and this would provide that.

I think that this could be further evidence of his being allowed to test after Valencia, so he wants to be healthy for the test.

Then again, it could be because he already knows he won't win with the bike and support he currently has, Yamaha aren't gonna help him now, they won't let him test early, and so Rossi's gonna do it just out of spite for Yamaha going back on their testing agreement.

Or not. :)

"I think that this could be further evidence of his being allowed to test after Valencia, so he wants to be healthy for the test."

- I doubt Yamaha and his sponsors would be so generous.

"Then again, it could be because he already knows he won't win with the bike and support he currently has, Yamaha aren't gonna help him now, they won't let him test early, and so Rossi's gonna do it just out of spite for Yamaha going back on their testing agreement."

Sounds more likely, except the testing agreement is actually that Rossi will NOT test for anyone EXCEPT Yamaha. So Yamaha has every right to deny him that, and the only reason they would is to appear sporting.

I mean, if Yamaha gets the message and agrees to the test and Rossi decides he doesn't need early surgery, Rossi wins.

If they don't and he has the early surgery, Rossi wins (in a matter of speaking... by having more healing time).

If he actually is just doing it because his shoulder really hurts and the testing is second priority, then... he's doing what's best for his career.

If it's really just up to him, I don't see a bad outcome for Rossi... only for Yamaha and his sponsors.

I think that you captured all of the key points and it seems as though Rossi may be in a pretty good position, all things considered.