Rossi To Test At Misano Wednesday, Contemplating Return At Sachsenring

It is a truism that riders want to ride, regardless of whether it is a wise decision or not. The latest victim of this compulsion is none other than Valentino Rossi, who, according to various reports in the Italian media, is considering returning to racing as early as the Sachsenring, on July 18th. The Fiat Yamaha rider suffered a complex fracture of his right tibia in a vicious highside during practice at Mugello, and initial reports indicated Rossi could be out for three to four months.

However, surgery to insert a pin in his tibia was successful, with no signs of infection, and the official word from Yamaha was that the seven-times MotoGP champion was aiming to make his return at Brno on August 15th. This would allow Rossi to compete in the second half of the championship, with nine races left to find his racing form again.

That does not appear to be early enough for the Italian, though. Rumors surfaced at Barcelona that Rossi was considering making a return at the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring in ten days' time, but were widely discounted as unlikely. More confirmation came earlier this week from Italy that Rossi is serious about racing at the Sachsenring. His recovery from injury is progressing extremely well, helped in no small part by spending time in a hyperbaric chamber to help his broken bones heal more quickly.

Finally, the Fiat Yamaha press office today issued a press release announcing that Valentino Rossi will be riding a World Superbike spec Yamaha YZF-R1 at Misano today, Wednesday July 7th, to evaluate his level of fitness. The official press release describes the purpose of the test as follows:

"The Italian has made an excellent recovery so far since breaking his leg at Mugello on 5th June and he has decided to proceed with the test ride today in order to better understand his current physical condition. Riding a racing motorcycle will help Valentino and his doctors to plan the next stage of his rehabilitation programme in order that he may return to racing as soon as he feels confident to do so."

The outcome of the test is expected later today, and will be issued in another press release from the Fiat Yamaha team.

Although the test may prove that a return to racing may be possible at the Sachsenring, question marks remain over the value of returning so early. The break in Rossi's tibia was rather ugly, and despite having a large pin and four screws inserted to fix the break, the leg will still be rather weak and rather sore. Making things worse is the fact that an early return would mean Rossi racing at the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca, two tracks which are extremely tight and technical, with no place to rest for a couple of seconds before the next lap commences. In their favor is the fact that both tracks contain predominantly left handers, placing less of a strain on the right leg.

The biggest worry will be another injury, though. Another crash at this stage of Rossi's recovery could jeopardize the remainder of the Italian's season, and potentially his career. The pin and screws inserted are large enough that they could cause serious damage if Rossi were to crash and injure himself in the same lower part of his right leg. What's more, the Sachsenring and especially Laguna Seca have a number of sections where the walls are very close to the track. As Marco Melandri demonstrated in 2007, it is not impossible to hit the wall at Laguna, and that is a risk which may not be worth it for Rossi.

Riders, however, are not known for being conservative when it comes to risk assessment. If Rossi comes away from today's test at Misano without suffering too much pain, and confident in his control of the bike, the most likely scenario is that he will be back sooner, rather than later.

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Comments

Could be the worst thing he's ever done. Barring injury on Jorge's part, the championship is practically unattainable.
I'm not too sure what he has to gain here besides leverage on his contract negotiation.

I understand the competitiveness is a big part of what makes Rossi Rossi, but I can't understand the value of coming back two races early. Coming back at Brno is one more month of rest and rehab, still gives him half the season to pick up points. As a Ducati owner I want to see him as fit as possible for next season. Hopefully his crew can talk some sense into him.

I understand the rider's desire to get back on the bike as soon as possible, but he has absolutely nothing to gain from coming back to the championship too early. He's got nothing to prove and this season's title is gone anyway. And he said himself that he's got a ride for next year this way or another. So, why risk it? Makes no sense to me.

Attendances are down, TV audiences have been halved in Italy, and are down by 30% in Spain. There are a lot of people with a lot of reasons to want Rossi back in the championship. Some of them are very, very important, and several of them have Rossi's phone number. That may be a factor. 

I agree 100% for sure David. I'm sure the powers-that-be are looking at a reduced bottom line and cringing.

That said, and I'm sure you will agree, money is a big motivator, but Vale is a racer and a true champion and I'm sure he wants to be back in the saddle - for many reasons.

In the age of Vale, everyone has been wondering what will happen if he decides to retire, well we are getting a good glimpse of it right now. I wonder if Carmelo is looking at figuring out how to fix the problem rather than just getting Rossi back on a bike. After all, he has to retire sometime, and maybe this little jolt of reality in a (mostly) injury free career will spur him on to F1 or Rallying.

I believe you. And if these people have pressured Rossi in any way, he should tell them no. His absence may be the cause of the reduced audience, but its not his "fault". He shouldnt risk his health/recovery to solve someone elses dilema.

....about those figures?!?! But here in Portugal there is no information about them.

- David do you know if these negative numbers have been progressing or have them been stable since VR injury?

-Are they falling every race a little bit more?

I can speak for me and some friends, since VR injury every race weekend there is less people saying they saw the race....is this happening world wide?

Thanks

I recall reading an article by Dean Adams just prior to Silverstone (and just after the accident at Mugello) in which he claimed "grandstand ticket sales for the British GP are higher than those from the 2009 race at Donnington...it seems interest in MotoGP is unaffected by the absence of Valentino Rossi".

However, Adam's conclusion ignores the fact that most ticket sales are made fairly far in advance (e.g., my Laguna Seca tickets arrived several weeks ago), so it will take some time for the real impact of VRs absence on ticket sales to be realized. On the other hand, the impact on TV/online viewing is more immediate--with reported decreases of ~30% fewer viewers.

You guys are amazing...contract leverage, pressure from Dorna, perhaps the mafia.

The ONLY thing he's thinking about when he's riding today is...Can I be competitive?

He's a RACER..that's all that needs to be said. Remember Steve McQueen's line from LeMans... "Racing is life...everything before & after is just waiting"..I guess Vale has "waited" long enough. Think he's any different than Doohan..I don't.

I like layback's take. VR probably cares little about TV audiences or how much he is going to paid next year. What makes him..him, is that he just loves to RACE

How utterly refreshing.

There is no doubt that Rossi wants to race, and wants to race badly. Just like any other racer, there's nothing Rossi would like more than to get back to racing. However, he has to balance that against his long-term health and the ability to be competitive. Pressure is undoubtedly being applied by various people to get swing Rossi's decision one way or another. Rossi should be allowed to make a calm and considered decision, and this is what is being denied him. 

Just read that the shoulder is as much (if not more) of an issue. That is worrisome. It's unclear if this test is a sign that he is rushing his recovery...maybe VR just wanted to see where he is at in the recovery phase--he has said before regarding the shoulder injury that the only way he knows how it is healing is to ride the bike at pace. Btw, best lap of 1:41, ~3.5 s of Biaggi's recent qualifying lap time. Would love to see him at Laguna this month, but would rather he return only when fully fit.

Completely agree. There's no way Vale is listening to Dorna for anything at all. I am still shocked at him going out and riding this early. I'm sure he can't stand seeing Jorge win so easily.

I believe left turns would put more strain on his right leg. Riders usually put their weight on the outside peg. Using the rear brake will be tough, maybe he'll get a thumb brake.

then the business side of our sport is uglier than I thought!

I would like to think that Rossi is enough of his own man to dismiss any such pressures and decide for himself. To my mind it sounds like he's just itching to get back out there as any red blooded racer would. Get stuck in Vale, you know the risks and what you are, and are not, capable of. He'll be stronger for it long run from a pure selfish racing perspective.

Absolutely, VRs decision will not be influenced by any external pressure to return--it's all down to determination and a love of what he does. Although I worry about the risks of him returning too early, he's a smart guy and we can trust him not to do anything silly. We could be in for quite a spectacle during the second half of the season--we've never witnessed a fully fit Rossi with nothing to lose (wrt the championship) and incredibly motivated to prove a point (that Yamaha have their priorities all wrong, that JLs WC is a tad hollow, etc.).

...it's absolutely crazy to ride so soon. That bone could not have healed/knitted in any signifcant way. Probably even the wound (on his skin) has not yet healed. If he fell it could all come apart again, no matter how much hardware he has in there, or what kind of contraption he might wear.

Good theatre I guess though.

"I believe left turns would put more strain on his right leg. Riders usually put their weight on the outside peg."

They do? Such a practice seems more common when racing in the rain rather than the dry. My foot just barely rests on the outside peg when I'm racing. Of course, I'm no top level rider. I've seen a fair few professional races, though, where a rider's foot slips off the outside peg when negotiating a bumpy corner, something I don't think would happen if they had any real weight on the peg. Also, you'll notice many riders feet pointing out at an angle while in a corner which, to me at least, signals a relative lack of pressure on the outside peg.

Here is picture of the man in question, heel on the outside peg, ball of the foot - the area usually used to exert the most pressure - dangling, if you will: http://www.100sports.it/uploads/ValentinoRossi_2.jpg

I agree with the poster you are quoting and I almost made the same point. Around a corner and between the two foot pegs there is usually more pressure on the outside. The fact that the outside foot will sometimes slip off and shoot out would point to that. And in my experience you can't constantly put pressure on the ball of the foot because that will quickly tire the muscles in the ankle. The most stable point is exactly that between the heel and the ball of the foot that all racers use on the outside peg. They use the tip of the foot on the inside peg, when it is not dangling, because it is just lightly resting there and it gives the most clearance to lean the bike.

I'm with you. I know that when I experience a sliding rear tire, I apply a LOT of pressure to the outer peg to kind of steer it, similar to when I MX'd as a kid. And for sure, when that front end starts pushing out, you better NOT be weighting that inner peg. Yikes.

Functional testing is important in rehabilitation. He'll probably know within an hour how close he is to being able to ride at his best. In addition, it could be a way to get out another R1-Rossi press release as well as some additional track time at Misano. A little more recent time in the saddle at a track didn't hurt DePuniet get a spark at Silverstone and a few Ducati riders took to the track at Aragon. I think it's something we'll see more of given the testing limit rules.

so he needs to stay in the news to remain relevant in the current contract negotiations and this is one way. he'd be dumb to press for any fast times. a slight mistake, too much weight on a painful leg/foot and he could be out for a lot longer. he is a super human rider, but that is not to be confused with super human.

this injury really threw a wrench into his trying to leverage yamaha to keep him and ditch lorenzo. I can’t see what advantage it is to him to push for an early comeback unless he feels seriously threatened by lorenzo yet still wants to stay at yamaha. If he stays that means he really fears lorenzo and doesn’t think he can afford a 1/2 season to adjust to the duc, write off 2011 and hope for a 2012 title against a potential 2 times world champ lorenzo. Thinking/strategizing that rossi never thought he's have to do.

although i am counting a lot of eggs before they hatch.

chris
moto2-usa.blogspot.com

Yes, the *****ONLY**** reason VR wishes to race is because of Jorge Lorenzo. Thanks for sharing that astoundingly perceptive insight.

"he needs to stay in the news to remain relevant " ......The GOAT trying to stay relevant??? Thanks for making me laugh today. I needed that!

The general public have a short attention span but Rossi doesn't really have anything left to prove. George is doing his best to be sure no one forgets Rossi.

I actually think that his sparring with Dovisioso for a short time during the last race was just his effort to make it interesting for the fans, as he eluded to in previous press conferences. Lorenzo has a good head on his shoulders. He's not afraid to race against anyone, but he can still recognize what is special about the great ones, knowing he may be counted among them, someday.

he is a showman as much as he is a racer and you can't entertain if you are not visible. he is also involved in a power struggle at yamaha and not being on the track is hurting his chance to get what he wants. in fact he may be effectively pushed out of his team by their refusal to meet his demands.

yes, he's the GOAT and currently the most popular racer in the world but that is not stopping yamaha from having a take us or leave us attitude.

he needs to remain visible. why else would he ride a bike on the track knowing that he cannot turn a competitive time and could possibly injure himself much more seriously? a good lap time proves nothing, we all know rossi is the goat. a slow lap time shows us he is human, so the only real objective is to remain prominent in the motorcycle news cycles.

so yes, he needs to remain relevant to remain top dog in contract negotiations.

chris
moto2-usa.blogspot.com

How can it be? As was mentioned earlier, broken bones do not heal that fast. Muscles which weren't used for @ 1 month have lost movement and have incurred atrophy. If he is foolish enough to race, it will be for 10th place. And Lorenzo has nothing to do with it. VR must know that at less than 100%, Lorenzo, (Stoner and Danny) will loose him on the first lap.
Remember, his "sore" shoulder (before the leg break) prevented him from being the fastest on the track to begin-with. Stoner "gifted" him his win. And to risk further permanent damage? The season is done. Relevance does not place 10th.

,, or maybe the leg isn't broken ;)

This just in..."Sources on the scene at Misano say that Rossi did one ten lap stint on Crutchlow's WSBK-spec R1 late in the day and he may do another stint here shortly. His riding, again, according to sources on the scene, was described as normal."

Apparently, VR is a fast healer...

Bone cement.

If his break was really as bad as the doctor says it is, then this is the only thing I can thing of to explain how he is able to ride a bike so soon. (Does a hyperbolic chamber really speed recovery for broken bones!? The first time I read that it sounded more a ploy for misdirection)

Of course, bone cement is available, and FDA and CE Mark approved for vertebrae and hips, but I think for extremities like leg fractures there has only been clinical studies(with positive results). This may explain the hush-hushness of the actual details of the surgery.

If true, you heard it from me first! :)

Compound fractures typically take ~8-12 weeks for recovery for an average person. For a professional athlete in top physical condition (anabolic rate scales with metabolic rate) and with special treatment (hyperbaric chamber), the recovery period could be reduced to 4-6 weeks. According to Brivio, VR had the leg checked recently, and the bone is apparently knitting well, so it's not unreasonable to suppose that the break may be ~80-90% healed. The ability to turn 24 laps of Misano at a decent pace suggests that he is healing well.

:-D I love it. You walk into the chamber and suddenly you can't help but overstate things.

Don't worry, we know what you mean.

"Yeah, not the 'Fox News' type of hyperbolic chamber, but the medical apparatus". But that might piss some people* off :-)

*Righties, please substitute with 'NYT' above.

there's nothing like losing something to appreciate how much you liked it in the first place.
rossi has never been forced to miss this many races before, imagine how he feels watching lorenzo run away with the championship and not being able to do anything about it.
racing bikes is a drug, once you start it's in your blood and you're hooked. i think this enforced layoff has made rossi appreciate how much he loves motorcycles and competing at the highest level and it's motivated him to push to come back earlier.

this is pure speculation on my part but i even think that this injury may make rossi re-think going to F1. his passion is with bikes and now he's felt what its like to be away from it all he may decide not to walk away.