Valentino Rossi’s crew chief Jerry Burgess is confident the Italian will be fit to ride in tomorrow’s 30-lap Valencia GP, despite suffering three small broken bones in his right hand in a qualifying crash.
Rossi suffered a huge crash in the opening ten minutes of this afternoon’s qualifying session, breaking three bones in his right hand in an incident that completely destroyed his factory YZR-M1. Some parts of his bike were salvaged but before 5pm tonight, less than three hours after the crash, Rossi’s mechanics were close to completing a full re-build complete with brand new engine, chassis and swingarm.
If Rossi’s fails to make the grid for tomorrow’s final round of a tough season for the 28-year-old, it will end his proud record of never having missed a Grand Prix since his world championship career started in 1996.
But Burgess believes the seven-times world champion will brave the pain, admitting that Rossi’s injuries aren’t as severe as the wrist fracture he suffered in Assen last season.
Australian Burgess told MCN: “He has cracked a couple of bones and one is around the knuckle area. He actually said he is 100 per cent better than he was when he crashed in Assen last year. In Assen he said everything hurt but here he said he landed on his arse a bit and that was a bit sore. I’m not sure what pain will come overnight but he seems to have a lot of movement in the hand. It is his throttle hand so if he can’t rotate it he can’t ride. I’ve seen him with an ice pack on it but to me looking at him, and I’m not a medic, he will be back out there. To me there is absolutely no sign that he can’t do it.”
Burgess said the crash was caused by a rear tyre slide, which then caught a bump and sent Rossi and his M1 into a violent bucking movement before he was thrown over the handlebars. Burgess admitted data showed Rossi was on the throttle fractionally more than previous laps and added: “He just said the rear slid and there is a little bit of a bump there. “He was on the gas a bit more than he was on the other laps and the initial slide wasn’t anything. It was just the return of the slide after it went over the bump. It’s only a small bump but just one of those things that could happen to anybody. There’s no real sort of issues and it was one of those crashes that really just caught him out. The bike was working well and he’d done a 33.2, which was his best lap and he was pushing on and evaluating the tyre for the race. Talking to him now he is happy with the setting of the bike and he seems pretty good.”
Burgess believes that Rossi’s hand was broken not by hitting the tarmac or him rolling down the track, but by the violent shaking of the handlebars as he frantically fought to regain control. Burgess said Rossi’s gloves were completely unmarked, and there was no damage to the handlebars.
“There is no skin off his hand at all but I could see a bit of bruising. The handlebar didn’t touch the ground at all because the bike went end over end. And his gloves didn’t touch the ground. The damage that he did was with the handlebars going from lock-to-lock quite quickly and violently, “said Burgess.
Rossi was undergoing lengthy treatment at the circuit tonight, and he said he was desperate not to miss a race for the first time in his career, stretching back an impressive 191 consecutive starts.
The 28-year-old said: “I was going quite well and able to do 33.3 quite easily, but then at a certain point, when I was accelerating, I lost the rear. I tried to get the bike back but it was too late. After the crash I immediately realised that my hand was broken but I didn’t know how bad it was. I hit my lower back quite hard as well and actually it hurts quite a lot, but luckily there is no bad damage there. Tomorrow morning I will see how I am and then I will take a decision after further consideration with Claudio (Dr. Costa) and also with the Spanish doctors. I have never missed a race in my career and I really don’t want to do it tomorrow. I remember last year in Assen the pain was more or less the same, but then I was challenging for the championship. Tomorrow I am challenging for second place; it’s not quite the same but anyway of course I would like to be there.”