Valentino Rossi’s surgically repaired right shoulder is painful and weak, he discovered, after a surprise test on a Ducati 1198 at the Misano circuit not far from his home in Tavullia, Italy.With team manager Vitto Guareschi and two of Rossi’s engineers on-hand, but not crew chief Jeremy Burgess, Rossi took to the track for the first time since the early November surgery. The operation was a success, but doctors found more damage than expected and his recovery period was extended. At the recent Ducati Marlboro press intro in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, Rossi said the shoulder wasn’t responding as quickly as he’d hoped.Today, just 73 days after the surgery, Rossi returned to the track to gauge his fitness in advance of next week’s first official MotoGP test in Sepang, Malaysia. On a cool, 50F afternoon, Rossi took to the Misano circuit on an all-red 1198 rather than his GP11, which he isn’t allowed to ride because of testing rules. What he discovered was what he expected; the shoulder hurt and wouldn’t be up to the demands of testing the GP11, which he’s on meant to test from February. 1-3.”First of all, thanks to Filippo [Preziosi)]and to Ducati, who organized this test,” Rossi said. “Misano Circuit let us use the track on a day when Mattia [Pasini] was planning to ride in order to confirm his own condition. The track more or less confirmed what we expected: the shoulder is painful-especially under braking, when the front area hurts, where they stitched the tendon. Movement is stable enough, and we’re also doing not so bad with endurance, but apart from that, it hurts a lot and isn’t very strong. Let’s hope it gets a little better in these next few days before the test in Malaysia. Once we’re there, we’ll work with the riding position in an effort to make the most of the situation and collect important information with the Desmosedici, even though I’m not in top form. Today I did a total of 25 laps on the 1198 Superbike, which is sort of a ‘historic’ motorcycle for Ducati: beautiful and fast. I liked it!”
Valentino Rossi Rides
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.