Motegi MotoGP: Valentino Rossi aims to finish season

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Valentino Rossi has insisted he will do his utmost to finish his final season with Yamaha, despite the on-going pain and discomfort caused by his badly damaged right shoulder.

After struggling to a distant sixth place at the Motorland Aragon track two weeks ago, the 31-year-old expressed doubts that he would be able to finish the 2010 campaign.

He said he would decide after the run of three successive flyaway races in Japan, Malaysia and Australia whether to withdraw from the championship to undergo surgery on the right shoulder he damaged in April while training on a motocross bike.

Speaking at a rain-lashed Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan today, the Fiat Yamaha rider said he was desperate to honour his Yamaha contract and compete in the Estoril and Valencia races in late October and early November.

Despite his shoulder injury woes, the Italian is still firmly in the hunt for third place in the world championship rankings and trails Aussie rival Casey Stoner by 15-points going into Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The nine-times world champion said: “Unfortunately the shoulder is the same. I don’t want to give up and I want to try and arrive at the end of the season but I have to think about it race-by-race and day-by-day.

“On paper this track is the worst one for the shoulder because there is a lot of hard braking on the right. Malaysia and Phillip Island it might be better but three races in a row is not very good. But I try to resist and to arrive at the end of the championship. That’s my target.”

Rossi said he could not foresee how his shoulder would react to the stress of Motegi’s hard braking points or whether it would withstand the punishment of riding in three successive races.

But he said if his form continued to be as disappointing as the Motorland Aragon race when he finished close to 30 seconds behind winner Stoner, he said: “For sure if I have to fight for seventh or eighth it is better to stop. 

“But I want to arrive at the end of the season before making the surgery for next year. Sincerely I can’t answer because I don’t know what will happen. Maybe this race will be impossible for me to make the whole race or maybe I have so much pain I can’t ride in Sepang.

“But I want to respect my contract with Yamaha as much as possible and I don’t want to give up easily.”

Rossi said his plight was making it increasingly difficult for him to keep his motivation, but he was determined not to walk away to undertake surgery.

He added: “I want to finish my story with Yamaha with some good races and some good results. My work is to make the whole championship because I have already jumped four races and I want to try and finish the championship. But if I have too much pain it is better to stay at home.”

One major boost for Rossi in the Far East was confirmation that he will get to use an upgraded factory YZR-M1 engine this weekend.

Rossi has complained recently about Yamaha’s lack of top speed and acceleration compared to Honda and Ducati.

The response from Yamaha will see a new motor rolled out this weekend and Rossi said: “Yamaha has respected me when they said my bike and the bike of Jorge would be the same for the rest of the season and we have one (new engine) each.

“We tried at the test in Brno and it was a small improvement, so we expect to be a bit closer to the other manufacturers.

“But I don’t think it is enough to arrive at the same level. I hope in these three races our bike suffers less compared to Aragon, which was the worst circuit for the M1.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt