Valentino Rossi may yet be forced to miss his third race of the 2020 season, after still being unable to provide a negative PCR test for Covid-19. The Italian tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of first round in Aragon, and was forced to miss the two races at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
Despite having fully recovered from his symptoms and feeling fit and ready to race, a PCR test for Covid-19 carried out on Tuesday came back positive. Rossi still has a couple of chances to race in Valencia, if he can provide two negative PCR tests. He is due to have one test on Wednesday, and must have a second negative PCR test 48 hours after the first one, which would mean he would miss practice on Friday, but could arrive at the track on Saturday ready to compete.
Yamaha have chosen American rider Garrett Gerloff to replace the Italian. Gerloff made his debut in the WorldSBK series this season, racing for the GRT Yamaha team, scoring three podiums during the year. Gerloff was chosen over Toprak Razgatlioglu, who races in the factory Pata Yamaha squad, as Razgatlioglu is a Red Bull rider, and the sponsorship would have clashed. That was thought to be an impediment to Razgatlioglu racing for Pata Yamaha, which has strong links with Monster Energy, but Razgatlioglu called Yamaha's bluff and was allowed to retain his sponsorship.
It is notable that Jorge Lorenzo was not called up to replace Valentino Rossi. This would seem to confirm recent reports that Yamaha are looking at dropping the Spaniard as a test rider, which were prompted by Lorenzo's very poor times at the recent Portimao test, where he was slower on the Yamaha M1 MotoGP machine than the permanent riders were on production bikes. Afterward, Valentino Rossi offered some criticism of the Spaniard, telling reporters that Lorenzo would need to spend more time riding motorcycles outside of testing work if he wanted to be a test rider.
We will not know whether Rossi will be able to ride at Valencia until Friday evening at the earliest. But if Rossi's test today comes back positive, then he will be certain to miss this weekend. He then has another week to provide two negative tests before he is allowed to travel to Valencia to race.
The two press releases from Yamaha appear below:
GARRETT GERLOFF DESIGNATED AS STANDBY REPLACEMENT RIDER FOR VALENTINO ROSSI AT THE EUROPEAN GP
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 4th November 2020
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team have designated GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team‘s Garrett Gerloff as the standby replacement rider to fill in for Valentino Rossi should the Italian not be able to meet the requirement of the two negative PCR tests needed to be allowed to take part in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de Europa.
Following the two Grand Prix weekends in Aragon in October, where Maverick Viñales performed as the sole Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider, the team is pleased to announce it has added GRT Yamaha WorldSBK rider Garrett Gerloff to its potential rider line-up for the Gran Premio de Europa.
Should Rossi be unable to meet the requirement of two negative PCR test results needed to be allowed to take part in this weekend‘s GP event, the American will substitute for Rossi.
Rossi‘s last PCR test, done on Tuesday 3rd November, came back with a positive result for Covid-19.
Nevertheless, today (Wednesday 4th November) the Italian will undergo a new test. Should he test negative, he will still have enough time to complete the required second PCR test and fly to Valencia.
Should Rossi be deemed 'unfit' to ride in Valencia, Gerloff will be backed by the number-46 rider's usual crew for his very first riding experience aboard a YZR-M1.
Gerloff started his motorcycle career steadily climbing the USA motorcycling ladder. Gerloff landed on the MotoAmerica Supersport class scene in 2015 and finished third on his first attempt. He would go two better in 2016 and again in 2017, becoming a two-time Champion by the age of 22.
The move up to the MotoAmerica Superbike class in 2018 was a natural progression. Joining the factory Yamaha squad, Gerloff dealt with the steep learning curve admirably and went on to secure five podiums and take fifth in the standings in his rookie year. In 2019 he really showed what he‘s made of. Scoring four wins and a further 11 podiums across 20 races, he claimed the bronze medal in the overall MotoAmerica Superbike championship standings.
The top-3 success was the American‘s cue to move onto the world stage, being welcomed by the factory-supported GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team. Again, Gerloff showed how quickly he can adapt and rise to the challenge. Although his preparations were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and he was racing at circuits he hadn‘t been to before, Gerloff still impressed. He scored his first third place podium in Barcelona Race 2, at only the sixth WorldSBK race weekend. He followed it up with another third-place and a second-place rostrum visit in the eighth and final round in Estoril, underlining the progress he made throughout the 2020 season and earning himself a solid 11th position in the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship standings.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP ENTER EUROPEAN GP WITH POTENTIALLY ALTERED RIDER LINE-UP
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 4th November 2020
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales is known to like the Valencia track a lot and he is ready to go all out again at the upcoming two GPs at the Ricardo Tormo track. Valentino Rossi is hopeful to make his eagerly awaited return to MotoGP this weekend. However, should he be unable to meet the requirement of two negative PCR test results needed for him to be allowed to take part in the European GP, the Italian will be replaced by Garrett Gerloff.
This week, Maverick Viñales is one of the home heroes in Valencia determined to shine on home soil. The Ricardo Tormo track is a circuit that he adores, and the Spaniard is ready to work hard to hit the ground running this Friday.
Valentino Rossi is hoping to join him inside the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP pit box again this week after sitting out the two GPs in Aragon. However, as a precaution, the team designated GRT Yamaha WorldSBK rider Garrett Gerloff as a standby replacement rider in Valencia for this weekend.
The American will fill in for Rossi should the Italian not be able to meet the requirement of the two consecutive negative PCR test results he needs to be allowed to take part in the upcoming Gran Premio de Europa.
Viñales is keen on ending the season on a high note. He plans on doing so by scoring top results in the final triple-header, starting with this weekend‘s European GP. Though the Spaniard admits Ricardo Tormo is not one of the strongest tracks for him in MotoGP, he is feeling positive that he can be on the pace.
Top Gun stood on the podium twice before in Valencia. He secured a victory in his first Valencian 125cc race in 2011, and he graced the top step once more in 2013 when he claimed the Moto3 World Championship Title. His best MotoGP finish was a fifth place in 2016. Currently he is 19 points removed from the top of the overall standings and just 5 points from second, with still a maximum of 75 points to play for in the final three rounds.
Rossi‘s ability to take part in this weekend‘s GP is still uncertain. In order to be allowed to compete in this weekend‘s Gran Premio de Europa round, he needs negative test results from two PCR tests conducted 48 hours apart, as per FIM rules.
Rossi has taken a PCR test on Tuesday 3rd November, which came back positive. Nevertheless, today (Wednesday 4th November) he will undergo a new test. Should the Italian test negative, he will still have enough time to complete the required second PCR test and fly to Valencia.
The 4.0 km Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo was built in 1999 and was immediately added to the MotoGP calendar. The circuit is often described as quite challenging. Its lay-out includes nine left corners, five right ones, an 876m longest straight, and is ran anti-clockwise. Despite its tricky nature, the Valencian GP is known as a solid fan favourite, especially when it became the traditional closing round of the MotoGP championship. This year, for the first time since 2001, Valencia isn‘t the final race venue. But with the chase for the title still ongoing, the upcoming two races in Valencia are must-watch events.
Pictures for editorial use only. Copyright © 2020 Yamaha Motor Racing Srl
Unfortunately, despite our hopes, we are entering the final triple header with some uncertainty about our rider line-up. Whilst Valentino has been feeling better, we can‘t be sure that he will be able to ride in Valencia this weekend until he has passed the two PCR test with negative results for Covid-19. These are strange circumstances: we don‘t know for certain who will be riding the bike this weekend, apart from Maverick. But this is a situation that‘s beyond our control, so all we can do is make sure we are prepared for every eventuality. In any case, we are thankful to Garrett Gerloff that he is willing to take on the challenge of riding the YZR-M1. It‘s never an easy task to step in for Vale, these are big shoes to fill, and it‘s especially challenging for Gerloff, having had so little preparation and without any prior MotoGP experience. But that will make the learning experience all the more valuable for him. Of course, the team will do anything they can to support him, should he have to replace Valentino this weekend. But naturally we are all still hoping that Valentino will be able to ride, so we can finish his final season with the Factory Yamaha team in the best way possible.
It‘s true that the last race wasn‘t the most positive, but it‘s important that we don‘t let that affect us in these final three rounds. We need to work hard, focus, and keep a positive mindset and get the best results possible in every single session. Valencia is usually a bit tricky for us, but I personally really like this track. For sure, it‘s not going to be an easy weekend but, as always, we will give our maximum.
This virus is very complicated and serious. I felt bad for two days, then in a few days I came back to being fully fit, at my 100%. I self-isolated at home all the time and I followed the medical advice closely. It‘s a very sad and difficult situation, but that‘s the way it is. Unfortunately, yesterday (Tuesday 3rd November), I had another test and it came back positive again, like all previous ones. Luckily I still have two more chances to be back on track on Friday or Saturday. I am very sad because I am feeling well, and I can‘t wait to be back aboard my M1 and be reunited with my team. I really hope the next PCR test result will be negative, because missing two races was already two too many.
MEYM, STANDBY REPLACEMENT RIDER
I‘m so honoured that Yamaha has considered me for this opportunity. This year has already been quite the adventure, and this would be the cherry on top. It‘s been a dream of mine to ride the Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike since I started racing so many years ago, and to potentially have it happen is really exciting. But I am just sorry to get this opportunity under these unfortunate circumstances for Valentino. I feel really bad for him and I hope that he recovers soon, we all miss the number 46 on track! All the best to him. If I do end up riding this weekend, it will be an uphill battle not knowing the bike, tyres, brakes, etc. Also, I have never been to the Valencia track before. But I‘m confident in myself and ready for the challenge! Thanks to all at Yamaha. Bring it on!