Valentino Rossi fit after unexpected lay-off

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Valentino Rossi has declared himself fit and ready to go ahead of this weekend’s Spanish MotoGP clash at the Jerez circuit.

Nobody would have been more relieved than the 31-year-old at the recent postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix because of flight chaos that was caused by an Icelandic volcano eruption.

Rossi would have flown to the Far East if he had not been stranded in Europe with an injured shoulder suffered in a motocross training accident in Italy.

The reigning world champion, who won the season’s opening race in Qatar earlier this month, said: “Of course it was a pity not to go to Japan, Yamaha’s home race, but we will go in October now and for me it was quite lucky to have this extra week.

“I didn’t hurt myself badly in the motocross fall but my shoulder was quite sore so it was good to give it more time to recover. I don’t know yet how much it will affect me this weekend, I hope not too much.

“The win in Qatar was fantastic but we saw there that we are lacking in some areas compared to our rivals so we have work to do.”

The Fiat Yamaha rider is chasing an eighth victory at the Jerez circuit on Sunday, and with a bumper crowd in excess of 100,000 expected to attend, Rossi added: “I love to race at Jerez, the atmosphere is amazing and I have fantastic fans in Spain.

“Last year I had a great win and I hope we can challenge again this time.”

Another rider who benefited from the late postponement of the Twin Ring Motegi race was Rossi’s factory Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

The Spaniard was struggling to regain 100 per cent fitness in his right hand after he was injured during a pre-season training incident in February.

But the unforeseen lay-off now means the double world 250GP champion is back to full fitness and raring to impress in front of his home crowd.

Lorenzo, who crashed out of fourth place in last year’s Spanish GP, said: “I was sad not to go to Japan because I love the country and the race and last season I won, so I was looking forward to going back.

“Anyway, we can’t change it and at least we will still go, in October.

“Now we go to Jerez, an amazing track where you can actually hear the crowd as you race! At Nieto and Peluquil corners especially you can feel the people, it’s like nowhere else in the World Championship.

“Last year I crashed when I was trying to pass Stoner and get the podium but until then the weekend had been good, I was fast and took pole position.

“This year I’m confident that I can finish the race and get as close as possible to the front.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt