Valentino Rossi has cast serious doubt on his podium hopes in tomorrow’s German MotoGP race, despite producing a heroic performance in qualifying this afternoon.
Back in action just six weeks after suffering a compound fracture of his right tibia in Mugello, the 31-year-old defied niggling pain to qualify fifth on the grid for the Sachsenring clash.
Rossi ended with a best time of 1.22.395 to finish just over 0.5s away from Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in pole position but just 0.132s behind fellow Italian Andrea Dovizoso in fourth.
Rossi though conceded the major doubt ahead of tomorrow’s race was his ability to run a fast and consistent pace for 30 punishing laps.
The nine-times world champion said: “I have some problem on the right with the braking on my shoulder. But the bigger problem is when I twist my ankle and knee when I change direction from right to left and twist my body. I have some pain.
"The second problem is in the corner after the braking when I have to move my foot back on the footpeg, I have some pain in the muscle on the inside of the knee. After this morning I had some pain in the fracture so for this afternoon I had to suffer a bit.
"I will be ready for the race and try to do 30 laps in a row without losing too much time. I think with a night to rest I don't think it will be a big problem. The pain doesn't increase day-by-day
"It was more a problem today because I had to do two hours on the bike in five hours and for tomorrow I arrive at the race with less pain because the warm-up is just ten laps. I think if everything is okay in the race I can run a pace of 22.1, but to go like Jorge, Dani (Pedrosa) and Casey (Stoner) will be a bit too difficult for me .
"It will be very difficult for me to fight for the podium but perhaps just behind the podium is possible."