Rossi "99%" Certain To Race At Phillip Island And Finish The Season
Two of the big stories that have dominated the 2010 MotoGP season collided at Sepang, and both involve Valentino Rossi: The tale of Rossi's injured shoulder, and the saga of his move to Ducati. After the thrilling battle between Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, in which the two did physical combat, swapping places for 3rd for the last couple of laps, Rossi was reprimanded by Yamaha for potentially endangering Yamaha's hopes of a championship, with Jorge Lorenzo still not having wrapped up the 2010 title. Shortly after, rumors emerged from the Rossi camp that the Italian would race at Sepang then return to Italy for shoulder surgery, skipping the final three rounds of the MotoGP championship. Paddock rumor suggested this decision had been prompted by the fact that Yamaha were now extremely unlikely to allow Rossi to test the Ducati at Valencia, directly after the final race of the season.
When Rossi was asked about these rumors at Sepang, he denied that he intended to stop racing after Malaysia, though he did not rule it out altogether. "For sure I will go to Australia," Rossi told the pre-event press conference at Sepang. After the race at Aragon, Rossi had spoken about missing the final two rounds at Estoril and Valencia, and instead having surgery to fix the problem. At Sepang he said that he was reconsidering that decision, after finishing the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi with a lot less pain than expected: "99%, I will say almost for sure if I don't have some extra pain [from the shoulder], I will finish the season."
Rossi's comments seem to suggest that he may still have a chance to test the Ducati in November, directly after the Valencia MotoGP round. Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis has refused to be drawn on the issue, insisting that no decision has yet been made. Whether it has been made or not, that decision is likely only to be made public at Valencia itself. Yamaha has much to gain by preventing Rossi from testing, but they also have a lot to lose, as refusing Rossi's request to ride the Ducati would lose them a lot of sympathy with the bike-buying public. Keeping that decision private until after Valencia, however, means they still have some control over Rossi's public statements on the company, at least until November.