Sepang test preview: Valentino Rossi vows to ride in Malaysia

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Valentino Rossi has vowed he will kick off his 2009 winter testing campaign in Sepang tomorrow (Thursday), despite hobbling off his flight into Kuala Lumpur with the aid of a crutch.

The reigning world champion sported nasty hand and foot injuries which have required over 20 stitches after he hurt himself tumbling into a glass table at home while he was closing curtains.

The most severe injury is to the sole of his left foot. As he checked into the Pan Pacific Hotel just a short drive from the Sepang circuit today, he wasn’t weight bearing on the foot, using a crutch instead to aid him walking.

A cut to his wedding ring finger on his left hand is reportedly so deep that doctors treating the eight-times world champion could visibly check his tendons were working fine and undamaged.

Sources claim Rossi has doubts about his fitness to ride in the three-day test, but that the 29-year-old will certainly do his best to carry out his first serious assessment on the 2009 factory Yamaha YZR-M1.

Rossi joins 2007 world champion Casey Stoner on the walked wounded list.
Stoner is facing an anxious wait to check on how his left wrist copes following major surgery in November to insert a bone graft in an old scaphoid injury.

Stoner still has restricted movement in the left wrist but is confident that clutch operation won’t be a severe problem when he takes to the track tomorrow.

At least Rossi and Stoner had trouble free arrivals into the Far East. Snow storms that wreaked havoc across Europe earlier this week saw Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo’s flight from Milan delayed by seven hours.

That still didn’t win most punishing trip to Malaysia though, which was won by Chris Vermeulen’s crew chief Tom O’Kane. He was stranded in the worst of the snow that hit Heathrow earlier this week.

O’Kane was actually sat on the tarmac for seven hours before his 11-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur was cleared for take-off.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt