MotoGP Aragon: Rossi’s shock return – day one

Broken leg and still able to do fast laps at a wet Aragon...
Broken leg and still able to do fast laps at a wet Aragon... Picture: Bonnie Lane

“Valentino continues to surprise us. He is unique,” says Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, summing up the thoughts of the MotoGP paddock and many fans of the #46 after the first day’s action at Motorland Aragon.

This morning at 09:55 at Aragon was the exact point in time that saw Rossi back after only 22 days after breaking his leg in two places. After testing at Misano with a Yamaha R1 Monday and Tuesday this week and passed the medical checks at Aragon circuit, Rossi was declared fit and this morning went back on track for the first session of free practice.

Mixed weather conditions and the rain made the return even more complicated, but the Yamaha rider didn’t give up. After eight laps inFP1 and 13 in FP2 in the, the balance is positive and he is confident, Rossi tells bikesportnews.com at the track.

First of all, how do you feel?
“The good news is that the leg has not swollen and the conditions haven’t got worst and that I feel quiet well. Then we need to wait tomorrow morning,” reassures Rossi with a big smile. “I hope that tomorrow the weather will be dry to continue working in preparation of the race.”

When you are on the bike can you forget to have a problem to your leg?
“No, when you ride, you need to be more careful and take some precautions. On the wet, in a way, it’s easier, as it requires less strength, but – at the same time – it’s easier to make a mistake. So I was careful and I didn’t do those things that I usually do when I push like riding on the kerbs or forcing the bike entering the corner. In this case, I prefer to take a margin of safety. It’s already a great success to be here and see how my leg reacts. I want to see if my leg improves.”

“I’m not looking at the lap times (18th position in the morning and 20th in the afternoon). The good thing about qualifying is that if you take the start from the first row is less risky. But I’m not worried by the fast lap. I need to understand first how my leg reacts tomorrow.”

Did the two practices allow you to understand your level?
“The doubts remain because riding on the wet is different that on the dry. You lean less from the bike and this is the area where I struggle more because of the incident I had.”

Did you understand if you can complete race distance?
“If it was on the wet, I think I wouldn’t have particular problems, but on the dry everything changes. For example, under braking, I need to stress more the arms and the shoulders because I cannot push on the legs. For sure it will be more demanding on the dry.”

Will you try to do a long run tomorrow?
“I will do some laps in a row, but not a long run, I need to keep my strength for Sunday. I will try to maintain my usual schedule as the other race weekends, working on the bike set up in the FP3 and – at the same time – trying to understand my potential and then, in the end, I would like to use a soft tyre. To finish in the top ten is the first target and the first obstacle, but I have no ideas if I can make it. To understand my strength and stamina I need to trust my sensations.

Have you made some special modifications on the bike?
“At the moment I’m using the pegs in a lower position, but I think tomorrow I will return to the standard position.”

On social media, there were some people who criticise and say that you didn’t break your leg…
“Ask the doctors, I’m not interested in explaining what I did, have a look at the X-ray.”

What is the target this weekend?
“I’m here to understand my condition. Being here is important also to arrive at my 100 per cent at Motegi, first race of three rounds in a row. It’s important also to understand what kind of work I have to do with my leg in preparations of the last races.”

Some people say you are crazy, other brave. How do you consider yourself?
“Yamaha didn’t push in my decisions, I am not doing this for the championship but I felt I was in the condition to try. The first thing you think at when you crash is returning back on a bike and then when you can race again. Every situation is different and also in the years the medicine had made big steps forward. I was lucky to choose a very good doctor. The surgery went well and I started the recovery soon. I felt I could come and try.”

Will you continue training with dirtbikes?
“We know that motocross is dangerous, and I never had a problem with the enduro bike before. We need to train on the bike to be at this high level, but I swear that next year, I won’t train with enduro or motocross before the Italian rounds of Mugello and Misano.”

Picture: Bonnie Lane
Picture: Bonnie Lane
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