The news that everyone has been expecting for the past few days has finally been confirmed: Valentino Rossi will be coming to the Sachsenring in the hope of being able to race. Just six weeks after suffering a compound fracture of the tibia, and after an intensive program of treatment to get back into shape, Rossi feels strong enough to at least attempt to race, though his participation is still partly in doubt.
The first hurdle for Rossi to take is an examination by the Chief Medical Officer at the Sachsenring, who will determine whether he believes Rossi is strong enough to race. This may prove a bigger hurdle in Germany than at other tracks, as the doctors at the Sachsenring have been stricter with injured riders in the past than other circuits have been. But given Rossi's performance testing a Yamaha World Superbike R1, it still seems a fairly safe bet that Rossi will be permitted to at least attempt to race.
If Rossi cannot race - either because he is not allowed to or because the strain of muscling a MotoGP bike around one of the tightest tracks on the calendar proves physically too demanding, Yamaha's test rider Wataru Yoshikawa will be on hand to take over, and ride in Rossi's place, as he did in Barcelona.
After two extremely successful tests - including one at Brno which showed Rossi would have been quick enough to contend for the win in the Czech round of World Superbikes - all the signs were pointing to a Rossi return at the Sachsenring. On Tuesday night, more oil was poured on the fire of rumors, after Rossi's best friend and paddock assistant Uccio was spotted driving Rossi's motorhome north around the ring road at Bologna, the main route north out of Italy. The rest of the core of Rossi's Tavullia-based fan club had also been spotted headed north, and so Rossi's presence at the Sachsenring looked increasingly likely.
Below is the full text of the press release issued by the Fiat Yamaha team, announcing Rossi's intention to return in Germany:
Event: Grand Prix of Germany - Preview
Date: 16th, 17th & 18th July 2010
LORENZO AND ROSSI REUNITED IN GERMANY
The Fiat Yamaha Team is reunited at the Sachsenring this weekend, when runaway championship-leader Jorge Lorenzo will be joined by Valentino Rossi after the latter's six-week absence. Rossi's recovery from his broken leg in Mugello has gone so well that the reigning World Champion is hoping to return to action earlier than expected, although he will have to receive full approval from the Chief Medical Officer at the circuit tomorrow before he can confirm if he will ride. Wataru Yoshikawa will once again be present and will ride the second M1 if Rossi is unable to.
The undulating wooded hills of the Sachsenring brought about another neck-and-neck Fiat Yamaha battle last year, with Lorenzo missing out by the skin of his teeth to his team-mate. This year however Lorenzo comes to the German track as the man-of-the-moment, having won three races on the bounce and an incredible five in total from seven rounds this season. The 23-year-old Mallorcan has only one Sachsenring podium to his name. but he will be planning to add another this weekend as he looks to extend a championship lead that already stands at 52 points.
Rossi has missed four races over his injury and currently sits seventh in the championship standings. The 31-year-old has been recovering at home in Italy and has undergone an intensive rehabilitation programme, which has resulted in him being back on a bike earlier than expected. The nine-time champion has produced some masterful displays at the Sachsenring over the years, including a superb race in 2006 when he won from tenth position and he has a total of five wins at the track. The evergreen Italian has had two successful tests on a Yamaha R1 in the last week and has been given the all-clear by his doctors, he just has to await the decision of the event Chief Medical Officer tomorrow before he can be sure of riding.
Wataru Yoshikawa stood in for Rossi at the last round in Catalunya and the Japanese test rider will be present in Germany this weekend and ready to ride if needed. "Though only one month has passed since Mugello, Valentino is back and I am amazed at the marvellous recovery he has made." Said the 41-year-old. "I respect his decision to try to ride, and it seems from the R1 test he did that he is still very fast! I am ready to ride if I need to, but it will be good if Valentino is back in his rightful place. I have learnt a lot riding the M1 in a racing environment and I think it will be useful in my future development work."
Jorge Lorenzo: "A NICE CHALLENGE"
"Sachsenring is a track that I like, but I've never won there. It's the same for Laguna so I'm excited about these two nice challenges before the holidays! Sachsenring is quite a difficult track, with a lot of ups and downs, and it's also one of the shortest tracks in MotoGP. We don't know about the weather, it can be very hot there but it would be better than rain. I'm happy Valentino is back, welcome to him!"
Valentino Rossi: "LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING BACK"
"I'm really excited that my doctors think I can ride this weekend. Tomorrow I will see the medical officer and then we will have the final decision. I felt good on the R1 but I know my M1 at the track is a different thing and it will be hard for me, but I miss my bike and my team and I want to try. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and being back in the paddock; I was tired of being at home! Wataru will be there as well so if there is a problem he will ride my bike again."
Wilco Zeelenberg: "WE CAN AFFORD TO BE CAREFUL"
"Sachsenring is an interesting track and it's not one that I know, but it seems Yamaha has a good record there. Jorge has never won, in fact he only has one podium, and I don't think it's one of his favourites but he is in great form so we have to feel confident of a good weekend. We have won three in a row and I don't think we can win every time so as usual our target will be to get onto the podium. We have a 52-point lead in the standings so we can afford to be careful and not to take too many risks."
Davide Brivio: "HAPPY TO HAVE HIM BACK"
"Valentino has made big effort to be ready to race in Sachsenring this weekend. He really wanted to be back riding his M1 as soon as he could and so he's worked hard to make his recovery as quick as possible. We expect him to take a couple of races to be up to speed and competitive at the top after his injury, but it's very nice to see him back with us."
Valentino Rossi : Information
Lives: Tavullia, Italy
GP victories: 104 (78 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 230 (169 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 59 (49 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
World Championships: 9 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 6 x MotoGP)
Jorge Lorenzo: Information
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 30 (9 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 134 (39 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 37 (11 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 2 (250cc, 2006/7)
Sachsenring: Record Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2009, 1'22.126
Sachsenring: Best Lap
C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1'21.067
Grand Prix Results: Sachsenring 2009
1. V. Rossi (Yamaha) 41'21.769
2. J. Lorenzo (Yamaha) +0.099
3. D.Pedrosa (Honda) +2.899