Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi claims that it was his recent training injury that kept him off of the podium at Mugello.
Ever since Rossi had to be hospitalized during his practice session at an Italian Motorsport track, his performance at Mugello was up for question. The rider’s sudden admittance to hospital stirred up fear and anxiety across the Motorsports world that was still reeling from the surprise death of the Kentucky Kid, Nicky Hayden. Although Rossi’s injuries were thankfully not catastrophic, the Italian struggled during the free practice sessions at Mugello, complaining of additional, unsuspected arm pain.
That pain proved to be too much of a hamper on his progress at the Grand Prix in Mugello, as Rossi had to settle just outside of the podium – finishing in P4. While fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso was able to give Ducati its first win in the 2017 season, Rossi will have to settle for a result that truly seemed out of reach just a week ago. The veteran rider escaped injury during his spill at Le Mans, only to sustain one several days after, and the fact that he managed to eke out a top-five finish given his physical condition is impressive to say the least. After the race, Rossi admitted that his physical injuries kept him from performing his best:
“For sure it’s a great shame [to miss] the podium, because it’s always a target. Here in Mugello it’s more important in front of all the crowd.
Sincerely, I trusted I could do [it] because in practice I was fast. Inside of me I knew 23 laps would be difficult, because I suffered more than normal – in practice when you do four or five laps it’s one story, you can recover, but more in a row is more difficult.
Eight laps to go, I was already finished and I started to suffer more.
I was quite strong, I could fight. Today the Ducatis were very good because they could use the medium rear. For us, with the Yamaha, we had to use the hard, with a little bit less grip.
For me personally the problem was my physical condition, because in the last laps I wasn’t able to make a bit more because I was already [exhausted].”
Rossi’s result should serve to bolster the Movistar Yamaha rider, but given his insatiable thirst for victory, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be pleased with himself. Still, Valentino would be wise to count his blessings, as he could have done a lot worse on himself.
It’s hard to tell if he’s noticed it yet, but Rossi’s wake-up call came at Le Mans – where he threw away a second-place finish near the very end of the race in a desperate attempt to catch his teammate, Maverick Vinales. A race that could have kept him in the upper echelons of the championship saw the storied rider fall from grace.
Then, shortly thereafter, the blunt-force trauma he sustained during his practice session in Italy threatened his participation at the Mugello Grand Prix. If he’s still the attentive Rossi we know and love, he’ll heed the warning signs and rev it down for the sake of his safety.