Return Of The King: Rossi Speaks At The Sachsenring

Valentino Rossi is back, and it shows. The paddock is buzzing again, as it did at Mugello, before the Fiat Yamaha rider suffered the vicious highside that snapped his tibia and put him out of action for the last six weeks. At the pre-race press conference, Rossi's answers were nearly drowned out by the frantic clicking of camera lenses, the Italian forced to squint in the barrage of flashlights going off.

"You could tell from the crowds round his motorhome that Valentino is back in the paddock," Nicky Hayden quipped. The press was no better, crowding round Rossi after the official part of the press conference was over, standing four deep to try and interview the Italian.

Rossi was clearly happy to be back in the paddock, and thanked the doctors for doing such a great job. He had been lucky, Rossi explained: "the doctors put a pin in the tibia, and the tibia is very straight, so it is in a perfect position." This had meant that the surgery had been relatively straightforward, and the bone had been quick to heal.

Once Rossi realized just how quickly his injuries were healing, he started making plans to return. "Immediately after the crash, we started to speak about Misano in September," Rossi explained. "Then after one week we speak about Brno, then after another week, we start to think maybe the Sachsenring...." Sitting at home and watching the races had been easy at first, Rossi told the press, but got more difficult as his injury progressed. "When you cannot ride it's easier," Rossi said, "but when you understand that maybe you can ride, you have to try."

Another factor for making an early return was the fear that staying away longer would require longer to get back up to speed. "I think the longer you stay outside, the longer you need to come back," Rossi said, and his reason for coming back early was simple: "I want to use these two races to get back the feel with the bike."

Using the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca races to ease back into racing means that Rossi believes he can be competitive again by Brno. " I think, for Brno, I can be quite good," he mused, "but for come back 100%, if everything is OK, I think Misano." Rossi had decided to race at the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca because he didn't want to extend that period any further: "I know that if I don't make these two races (Sachsenring and Laguna), I have to wait until Brno, and then, the time to come back is very long."

The lowest time had been in the hospital, Rossi explained. "Every morning in the hospital, you wake up and somebody you don't know wakes you up and puts a needle in your arm to take your blood. At seven o'clock in the morning." Normally, Rossi is not yet awake that early, so being awoken so early in a strange bed was very tough for the Italian. When asked if this had ever made him to think about stopping, Rossi was emphatic. "No!" he exclaimed in response to the question.

Rossi's leg was still causing him pain, but the progress he had made since the Misano test last week had been huge. He had suffered "pain everywhere" after the first test on the Superbike, but that had vastly improved at Brno. He can now brake at "about 90%" with no problems, the straight up-down movement not being a problem. The pain, Rossi explained, came from twisting his lower leg, though his knee was also a worry. "The other big problem I have is the inside of the knee. After ten laps, I have a lot of pain."

Perhaps Rossi's biggest worry, though, was not his knee, but his shoulder. The injury he suffered riding a motocross bike during training had been exacerbated by not being able to work during his stay in hospital, Rossi explained. "I have a lot of problems with my shoulder after the leg, because I have to stay 15 days in bed, so the shoulder became a lot more stiff, and I lost a lot of movement," Rossi recounted. "From that moment, I had to start the hard work with the physical therapy to recover the movement. So from two weeks, I work very hard in the swimming pool for the shoulder, and now the situation is not so bad. I have pain anyway, but my shoulder has improved from the last time. I think it's possible for the shoulder to be 100% I hope around Brno."

Despite the seriousness of the leg injury, it was not hampering him as much as his shoulder, though. "It is unbelievable because the injury of the leg is a lot worse," Rossi explained, "but give less problems than the shoulder, because the shoulder is very critical. I cannot make an operation on the shoulder because I do not have enough time, because the shoulder needs two months to recover. So I have tried to improve my muscle, to have less pain, and decide what to do at the end of the season. But I hope I will not need another operation."

Rossi's plan is to attempt to ride as much as possible during practice, and to see from there whether he believes he can race. With things progressing as rapidly as they have been - thanks in part to fifteen sessions in the hyperbaric chamber of two hours each, causing massive headaches and further recuperation using an oxygen mask - you would have to say that Rossi has a pretty good chance of racing on Sunday. Winning, though, will be a different matter.

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great to see hime back so soon. MotoGP needs Valentino Rossi far more than he needs them, so I'm sure there are sighs of relief all round at Dorna right now.

I don't expect him to win on Sunday, but if he could just beat Stoner I would be a happy man indeed :)

" MotoGP needs Valentino Rossi far more than he needs them"

If MotoGP goes away where would Rossi be? (lounging on a boat on the Riviera - he will not race WSBK, sorry)

If Rossi goes away where would MotoGP be? (still racing around the world - they will just promote the next superstar to take his place)

Us fans will miss him and there will probably be a bump in the road, but MotoGP will do just fine when the GOAT retires.

Great to have him back but he's not bigger than the sport. The decline of the T.V viewing figures would indicate there's a great number of fair weather fans out there which yeah must make Dorna nervous. I guess to some degree he's like Bazza and the British housewives in the seventies. But the show will go on and there will always be stars.

More media fueled cult of celebrity. ho hum.

Someone says if Moto GP goes away....
If it does, all the top riders would go to SBK and then it would be the top race series.
And Rossi would be racing in SBK as long as he still wants to race bikes.

If the Moto GP goes away, the manufactures do not necessarily move to SBK. Who can afford to pay to Rossi 14M a year in the SBK? He will go to more lucrative F1 rather than racing at the SBK with significantly reduced salary. The riders come and go, but the series do not go away easily.

It is nice to see him back.. but what is this media frenzy? It almost looks like self destructive by trying to increase his market value only.

I didn’t mean to insinuate that MotoGP is going away. It will not go away. I was just trying to make the point that MotoGP is in no danger of folding or being permanently damaged when Rossi leaves to go on to greener pastures.

If moto gp left the the big sponsors in moto gp would go to WSBK. And the good riders would get the big checks like they do in moto gp.