German MotoGP: Valentino Rossi plays down comeback hopes
Valentino Rossi has been quick to play down expectations after he made a return to the MotoGP arena in Germany today.
The Italian icon will ride at the Sachsenring this weekend having been passed fit to ride his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 less than six weeks after breaking his right tibia.
But he said it was foolhardy to think he will be immediately competing for victories and his modest target is simply to finish Sunday’s 30-lap race.
He said: “I have worked a lot on the muscles to have more power in my leg, but for sure it will be difficult to make the race distance. But I'm in good shape to ride.
"These two races (Sachsenring and Laguna Seca) are very important for me to come back in good shape for the last part of the season
"I need to come back on the M1 and have the right feeling and go step-by-step to be in a position to win in the last five or six races. Now I'm not 100 per cent so it is just to improve my condition."
Rossi has made a remarkable recovery from the injury he suffered in a fast practice crash in preparation for his home race at Mugello in early June.
The reigning world champion has undergone an intensive rehabilitation that has including spending 30 hours in a hyperbaric chamber.
He’s also been trying to build up strength in his right leg with regular visits to a swimming pool and gym close to his Tavullia home.
Rossi stepped up plans for his surprise comeback when he rode a factory Yamaha R1 World Superbike machine in Misano eight days ago. And he followed up that test with an impressive performance on an R1 at the Brno circuit in the Czech Republic on Monday.
Rossi lapped faster than several established World Superbike stars in Brno and he was given clearance to contest this weekend’s German Grand Prix by circuit medical staff earlier this afternoon
Speaking ahead of his return at the Sachsenring tomorrow, the 31-year-old said: "It was a big crash and a bad injury and the doctor said five months away. But after one week I thought about coming back in Misano (September 5) and then another week passed and I was thinking Brno (August 15).
2And then another week passed and I decided to try for Sachsenring. In the hospital the surgery was perfect. Dr Buzzi did a great job with the pin in the tibia and now when you look at the X-ray the tibia is in a perfect position.
"Then I had another surgery to close the wound and I had to stay in the hospital until the Friday after the crash and it was a difficult moment. But when I got back home, day-by-day I improved a lot and started to work to improve the movement of my ankle and knee.
"I am in quite good shape and rode the superbike in Misano more than a week ago and the first feeling wasn't so positive because I had pain everywhere after not riding a bike for one month. Then I tried again in Brno and the feeling was a lot better, so I decided to try here in the Sachsenring.”
Rossi denied he was rushing his return with tomorrow’s opening practice session in Germany coming just 41 days after his Mugello crash.
He said: “First of all the doctors say five months but this is to play football. It looks like riders are crazy but we are lucky because when we have pain we have the best people and doctors wanting to help us and I think the passion we have for riding motorcycles makes up the rest."
Rossi conceded though that his on-going right shoulder injury might actually cause him more problems than the healing right leg.
Rossi suffered serious ligament damage in his right shoulder in a motocross training accident back in April and he added: “I have a lot of problems with my shoulder because I had to stay in bed for fifteen days because of my leg. So my shoulder became very stiff and I lost a lot movement.
"From that moment I had to restart the hard work with the physio to recover the movement and for two weeks I worked very hard in the swimming pool for the my shoulder and now the situation is not too bad.
"I have some pain but my shoulder has improved from the last time I raced and I hope it can be 100 per cent around Brno. It is unbelievable because the leg injury was a lot worse but it is less of a problem than the shoulder, which is very painful.
"But I will not make an operation on the shoulder because I do not have enough time because it would need one or two month’s recovery.
"So I can just improve the muscles to have less pain and decide what happens at the end of the season but I hope I don't need an operation."