Although Valentino Rossi was coming off a dominating first-place performance from the MotoGP season opener in Qatar, the cancellation of the Japan Grand Prix in Motegi was actually favorable for the nine-time World Champion.
The extra week gave the Fiat Yamaha rider some additional time to heal from a motocross training accident in Italy, time needed for the upcoming Spanish MotoGP in Jerez. During the wreck on April 15, Rossi sustained some minor damage to his shoulder muscles.
Valentino Rossi says: "Of course it was a pity not to go to Japan, Yamaha's home race, but we will go in October now and for me it was quite lucky to have this extra week. I didn't hurt myself badly in the motocross fall but my shoulder was quite sore so it was good to give it more time to recover. I don't know yet how much it will affect me this weekend, I hope not too much."
The 31-year-old's injuries may be more of a challenge than the actual Jerez circuit, considering Rossi's record of eight wins across all classes on the 2.748-mile track. Three of those wins were with Yamaha in 2006, 2007 and last year, when he overtook Repsol Honda rider and Spanish native Dani Pedrosa, which was Rossi's first win of the '09 season.
But there's more...Rossi also set the lap record at Jerez last year with a 1:39.818, and finished second there in 2008 behind Pedrosa. And always looking to improve regardless of what feat the Italian conquers, Rossi says additional work needs to be done.
Valentino Rossi says: "The win in Qatar was fantastic but we saw there that we are lacking in some areas compared to our rivals so we have work to do. I love to race at Jerez, the atmosphere is amazing and I have fantastic fans in Spain. Last year I had a great win and I hope we can challenge again this time."
His teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who also suffered a motocross training accident during the pre-season, breaking his right hand, is hoping for better luck this year at his native track in Jerez. The 22-year-old crashed out of fourth place while challenging Marlboro Ducati rider Casey Stoner for third.
Jorge Lorenzo says "Last year I crashed when I was trying to pass Stoner and get the podium but until then the weekend had been good, I was fast and took pole position. This year I'm confident that I can finish the race and get as close as possible to the front."
Lorenzo, who was the youngest rider to ever compete in a Grand Prix at Jerez, is no stranger to the track. He won there in the 250cc Championship in 2006 and 2007, the same years he took the title.
Open practice sessions for the Gran Premio bwin de España will begin Friday, April 30, with the race set for Sunday, May 2. More than 120,000 fans are expected to attend.