For the first time in Valentino Rossi’s illustrious career, the Italian is injured and out. This past Saturday, during practice for the Grand Prix of Italy at Mugello, Rossi high-sided his Yamaha M1 and was violently tossed into the gravel, breaking his lower right tibia and forcing the legendary rider (and world phenomenon) to miss his first GP since he started racing 125s in 1996.
The 9-time World Champion was flown away to surgery where pins were successfully inserted and doctors have reported he’s doing great. Having had similar injuries myself, the Italian-even with the world’s finest physicians and therapists-has months of healing and physical re-habilitation ahead.
I believe a lot of people over the last fourteen years took the affable Italian’s consistency in race starts for granted. Rossi’s stellar results in the form of race wins and podiums elevated the man to legend.
His near complete lack of injury during his lengthy career… a highly unusual thing given the man’s occupation as a motorcycle racer-unwittingly served to raise the Italian to the status of an immortal. We have suddenly been shocked, reminded that the legend, our hero, our moto god, is in fact, human.
Most racers get hurt. It’s merely a consequence of racing. Think of all the racers who have gone missing in order to heal from various get-offs. The absences, rebounds and comebacks of racers are almost as expected and routine as birthdays and taxes. However, in the case of Rossi, this is all new.
For now, we all want our hero, Vale, number 46, to get well. Thank God it wasn’t worse. Valentino will no doubt be back. Who knows, he may see this as yet another challenge, yet another opportunity to prove himself on the world stage to be the greatest rider of all time and come back stronger than ever. Besides, there’s something nice and round about “10” world titles.
One has to wonder about the television viewership and how his absence will affect the numbers. Rossi is the one rider that non-motorcyclists around the globe actually tune in to watch. The man’s popularity extends beyond mere MotoGP wins and championships.
Rossi is to MotoGP what Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks are to the film industry, combined. It could be argued that Rossi IS MotoGP. He commands such a huge fan base that each time he whispers anything about going to Formula 1 the Dorna front office collectively holds its breath.
Dorna, the series’ rights holder, understands what the Italian represents to MotoGP’s TV market share around the world. Lose Rossi, and they lose a significant viewership (at some estimates, as much as 40%).
All said, putting Rossi’s health and welfare at the forefront, how is this going to affect the mindset of the other racers on the grid? The MotoGP paddock is a solid fraternity, a real family, and all the rider’s are concerned for their rival and wish him a speedy recovery.
These guys want him back, because they want to beat him fairly and squarely. But with the fourth “alien” out for a significant period (dashing any hope for a 2010 title) the others have to be thinking that that coveted spot on the podium Rossi always seems to be occupying-whether it’s the top rung or on either side-is now free. Look for this to not only impact the viewership of the series, but also for the competition to get very tight, very quickly.
In the meantime, rest Vale. Get well. We want you back. And as we already saw and felt yesterday during the Mugello GP; we already miss you.
The Doctor’s Updates Here at UltimateMotorCyling.com
Stop back here for more updates and we wish Vale a very speedy recovery.