Valentino Rossi Tests Positive For Coronavirus, To Miss Aragon Round

Valentino Rossi has tested positive for Covid-19. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider came down with mild symptoms while at home on Thursday morning, was tested for the coronavirus, and the test came back positive. As a result of his positive test, Rossi will be forced to miss the first round at Aragon, and in all likelihood, the second race at the Motorland Aragon circuit as well.

Rossi's absence will put an end to any lingering hopes of a MotoGP title in 2020 he may still have had. That prospect was growing increasingly remote, however. The Italian was already 57 points behind the championship leader, Fabio Quartararo, after crashing out of three consecutive races. With just one podium so far in 2020, getting a shot at the title was already going to be difficult.

When Rossi returns is uncertain. When Jorge Martin tested positive for Covid-19 just before the first round at Misano, he was unable to return in time for the second race a week later, and Martin tested positive on the Tuesday before the Misano round. That makes it extremely likely that Rossi will be forced to miss both Aragon rounds.

The lateness of Rossi's positive Covid-19 test does make Yamaha's life a little easier. Under the rules, the factory team has to make their best efforts to find a replacement within 10 days. 10 days takes us up to next Sunday, the day of the second, Teruel round at Aragon.

The most obvious candidate to replace Valentino Rossi would be Jorge Lorenzo, but Lorenzo was 3 seconds a lap slower than Aleix Espargaro at the Portimao test, and clearly not up to speed, after being off the bike for so long. At Le Mans, Rossi was critical of his former teammate for not having trained on motorcycle in between the Sepang test and the resumption of the MotoGP season. "Jorge in Malaysia in February was not so bad. Because he did a good job and he was strong with the M1. He was close to us, to the normal riders," Rossi said.

But Lorenzo needed to ride other forms of motorcycles more often to be a capable test rider, Rossi insisted. "But after, he said that he never rode the bike until Portimao. So I think that Jorge is a great opportunity for Yamaha because he has a big potential, but if you want to make the test rider he needs to train, to use motorcycles. Because if you stay eight months without touch a motorcycle, after it's impossible to bring a MotoGP bike to the limit. So I think if Jorge wants to continue, he needs to test and to ride some other type of motorcycle during the season."

In all likelihood, Yamaha will forego the chance to put a replacement rider on the bike. The complication of finding a replacement rider and having them pass a coronavirus test makes it an easy choice to sit out these two races. An added benefit is that it would limit the mileage on Valentino Rossi's engines, the Italian having already lost an engine at the first race in Jerez. Since then, he hasnt used the second engine from Jerez either. By skipping both Aragon rounds, that would leave him with two relatively well-used engines and one engine which was only introduced in Barcelona, to last the final three rounds.

The press release from Yamaha appears below:


VALENTINO ROSSI TO MISS THE GRAND PRIX OF ARAGON

Alcañiz (Spain), 15th October 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing Srl regret to announce that Valentino Rossi will be unable to attend this weekend‘s Gran Premio de Aragón.

STATEMENT – 15th October 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing Srl regret to announce that Valentino Rossi will be unable to attend this weekend‘s Gran Premio de Aragón.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  • On Sunday 11th October, Rossi left the Le Mans circuit and travelled back to his home in Tavullia, Italy.
  • On Tuesday 13th October, Rossi underwent the usual PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, which is compulsory for those who visit their homes in between races. The result was available the next day and it was negative.
  • On Wednesday 14th October, Rossi was feeling fully fit and he trained at home without any symptoms or inconveniences.
  • On Thursday 15th October, he woke up in the morning and felt a bit sore. He had a slight fever and immediately called a doctor. The doctor conducted two tests:
    1. A ’quick PCR test‘, that again came back with a negative test result.
    2. A standard PCR test, of which the result arrived on Thursday 15th October, at 16:00 local time. Unfortunately this result was positive.
  • During Rossi‘s stay at his home from Sunday night (11th October) to today (15th October), he has NOT been in contact with any person that is currently present at the Gran Premio de Aragón, including VR46 Academy riders, VR46 staff, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team members etc.
  • Rossi's condition will be closely monitored by the medical staff in Tavullia.
  • The situation will be reviewed every day with a view to Rossi's participation at the upcoming MotoGP race events.

VALENTINO ROSSI

Unfortunately, this morning I woke up and I was not feeling good. My bones were sore and I had a slight fever, so I immediately called the doctor who tested me twice. The ’quick PCR test‘ result was negative, just like the test I underwent on Tuesday. But the second one, of which the result was sent to me at 16:00 this afternoon, was unfortunately positive. I am so disappointed that I will have to miss the race at Aragon. I'd like to be optimistic and confident, but I expect the second round in Aragon to be a ’no go‘ for me as well... I am sad and angry because I did my best to respect the protocol and although the test I had on Tuesday was negative, I self-isolated since my arrival from Le Mans. Anyway, this is the way it is, and I can't do anything to change the situation. I will now follow the medical advice, and I just hope I will be feeling well soon.

LIN JARVIS - MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

This is very bad news for Valentino and very bad news for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team and for all MotoGP fans around the world. First and foremost we hope Valentino will not suffer too much in the coming days and will recover fully in the shortest time possible.

It comes as a second blow for our MotoGP operations having faced the absence of Project Leader Sumi-san and five YMC engineers at the Le Mans race after one member tested positive – despite being fortunately totally asymptomatic.

These two incidents remind us that no matter how careful you are, the risk is always present - as we see with the rising numbers of infections in Europe at this time.

We have checked with the Italian health authorities and we have been advised that any member of our team that was in contact with Valentino up until Monday is excluded from direct risk.

Nevertheless, we will be even more attentive from now on to minimise the chance for any future issues.

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Comments

Another blow to his 2020 season after showing some real promise in several races (and yes, crashing out too).  More importantly, a reminder that any rider could be stricken at any point and be taken out of the title hunt.  

As sorry as I am to see Vale get sick, I had to smile wryly at what he said: "this morning I woke up and I was not feeling good. My bones were sore and I had a slight fever". Message for Vale - minus the fever, I expect that's how half of us oldies feel most mornings. And for those that don't - you lucky dogs.

Mister Boo-bee-yay, Mister Cameron Boo-bee-yay, to the white courtesy phone located in the concourse.  URGENT.

Seriously though, if they're going to throw a superbiker on that bike as a sub, I'd say it'll either be Folgass or Bazooka.

Don't deregulations require the factories to place a rider on the grid  within 10 days, or does the short amount of time between these 2 races supersede that?

Josh Hayes subbed for CEII on a Tech3 M1 at Valencia in 2011, and in admittedly iffy conditions led the morning warm-up and finished the race seventh.  No previous experience in MotoGP up to that point.  So there is a precedent. Admittedly, this is a full-stonk factory ride we're talking about, and this isn't a throwaway slot, but stranger things have happened.  The kid has only brought five American Superbike championships to Mr. Yamaha.  I'd love to see corporate throw him a bone.