Question marks continue to hang over the Italian Dream combination of Valentino Rossi and Ducati, as Rossi's recovery from shoulder surgery is proceeding at a much slower pace than the Italian had hoped for. Rossi had voiced these fears at the Ducati's Wrooom! launch event in Italy two weeks ago, telling the assembled press that he did not expect to be at full fitness until the end of April at the earliest.
That would be a problem for Ducati, as the 2011 season is due to get underway with the first official test of the MotoGP test of the season at Sepang next Tuesday, and the first race of the season on March 20th at Qatar. There is still a lot of work to do between Sepang and Qatar, and Ducati are eager to hear from Rossi about the changes that have been made to the Desmosedici GP11 based on his input. But with Rossi's shoulder still questionable, there are doubts as to how much feedback Rossi can provide.
To assess this situation ahead of the Sepang test, the nine-time World Champion is currently testing at Misano. As Rossi is banned from testing a MotoGP bike, Ducati have laid on a WSBK-spec 1198 for Rossi to ride, and the Italian is using the occasion to put his shoulder through a thorough workout, to see how well it will hold up while riding a racing motorcycle. News is yet to emerge from the test, but a statement is expected after Rossi finishes work for the day.
This is the second time that Rossi has ridden a World Superbike machine. The Italian rode a Yamaha YZF-R1 at Brno to test his fitness last summer, before assessing whether he could make a comeback from the broken leg he suffered in a violent highside at Mugello. Rossi has repeatedly asserted his intention to compete in a World Superbike race, and his switch to Ducati was regarded by some as making a WSBK wildcard appearance possible.