Valentino Rossi's second test after returning from injury has been completed, and judging by the times, Rossi is fit and ready to race. According to times posted by Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio on Twitter, the Italian lapped Brno in a time under the race lap record set by Cal Crutchlow a day previously, on exactly the same bike. Rossi's lap time was 1'59.135, while Crutchlow's race lap record is 1'59.291.
More encouraging for Rossi were the reports from Brivio that the Italian was suffering a lot less pain. Discussions while Rossi was in the pits were about the bike and set up, rather than about pain in his shoulder and leg, suggesting that Rossi's fitness has improved significantly even from the middle of last week.
No announcement has been made yet - the expected press conference did not materialize - but it seems almost certain that Rossi will decide to attempt to race at the Sachsenring in Germany next weekend. At the very least, the Italian could enter the weekend, test his Fiat Yamaha M1 during free practice on Friday and Saturday, and then decide whether to actually race after Saturday morning. If Rossi withdraws before that time, Yamaha test rider Wataru Yoshikawa could still take Rossi's place on the grid on Sunday, if he can post a qualifying time on Saturday afternoon. Given the shortness of the Sachsenring track, getting within 107% should not be a problem for the Japanese rider.
An appearance at the Sachsenring would also provide Rossi a better platform for any announcement on his future. Press attendance at a test on the Monday after a race is always fairly meager, and a press conference during a race weekend - in the full glare of the world's media, already enthralled by Rossi's early return to racing - is much more Valentino Rossi's style.
Rossi now returns home to Italy, to consult with his doctors and with the team about whether to race in Germany. That decision will be announced either tonight, or perhaps on Tuesday after X rays and further examinations to test Rossi's health. According to GPOne.com, Rossi pronounced himself very happy with the the way the test went. "I am in much better shape than last week," Rossi said. "After a number of laps I had problems with my shoulder and my knee. I want to race at the Sachsenring, but I have to wait for an X-ray. If the tibia has healed sufficiently, I could go."
The chances of the Italian actually being in Germany appear to have grown immensely after this Monday's test. Whether he will race or not is probably irrelevant, ticket sales - and more importantly for Dorna, TV ratings - will be up no matter what.