Now that surgery is completed, and Valentino Rossi is on the road to recovery, the Fiat Yamaha team has a major decision to make – who will stand in for the injured nine-time world champion? Following the nasty highside at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, Rossi’s broken leg may result in him missing at least the next five races, which means a stand in may be imminent.
The words “stand in” are much better than “replacement,” considering the 31-year-old Italian will return, but due to Fiat Yamaha’s contract obligations, someone will have to fill Rossi’s leathers soon, but not immediately.
Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing, said that the team is obligated to field two riders, and Rossi’s bike contractually must be run from the Catalunya round till the end of the season. This means the team will likely only field their Spanish star and current points leader, Jorge Lorenzo, for the upcoming Silverstone and Assen rounds.
This gives Jarvis and his team at least four weeks to decide, and the decision is likely going to be another Yamaha MotoGP rider, either Tech 3 riders Colin Edwards or Ben Spies from Yamaha’s satellite team.
Edwards seems like the obvious choice, considering he competed next to Rossi on a M1 for Yamaha Motor Racing (YMR), the manufacturer’s factory MotoGP team that now competes under the name Fiat Yamaha. The Texan raced with YMR from 2005-2007, and his overall championship placements were fourth, seventh and ninth, respectively.
As for Spies, he may or may not be able to ride with the factory team as Rossi’s stand in, contingent on the rules and regulations of MotoGP. For 2010, the FIM initiated a new rule restricting factory MotoGP teams from signing rookie riders; this rule allows rookies to only participate with private or satellite teams for their first season, such as Spies’ current Tech 3 ride.
The FIM GP Regulation 1.11.11 states “Riders who enter the Championship for the first time (Rookies) must be entered by a non factory team.” Also, the FIM Regulations defines rookie: “A ‘Rookie’ is a rider nominated by a participating team for participation in the entire season, who has not participated in nine or more events in the same class in any previous season.”
The language is vague, but the magic number here may be “nine.” As of Mugello, Spies has only participated in eight MotoGP races: his four races this year, his wildcard with Tech 3 at Valencia in 2009, and his three 2008 Rizla Suzuki appearances (British GP, Indianapolis and Laguna Seca).
Would this still make Spies a rookie until he participates in the upcoming Silverstone round, which will give him “nine or more events in the same class?” Or will there be an amendment concerning stand-in riders?
Regardless if either Spies or Edwards is picked, then someone is going to have to replace them on the Tech 3 team. Again, the obvious is Yamaha riders, and the closest skill would likely be from World Superbike, so James Toseland or Cal Crutchlow are likely candidates.
The man with the MotoGP experience is Toseland, who raced besides Edwards on the Yamaha Tech 3 team in 2008 and 2009. Although the Brit never placed on the podium, having the highest finish of sixth (nine times), he has experience at the premier class level, and is somewhat familiar with the circuits. His fellow Brit Crutchlow, however, has not one morsel of MotoGP experience.
And as for World Superbike clashing with MotoGP events, the only weekend the two series are competing are during the MotoGP round in Assen (WSBK will be at Misano). But as stated previously, if Fiat Yamaha doesn’t need a rider until Catalunya, and does take Spies or Edwards, either of these two World Superbike riders can fill in on the Tech 3 team.
Regardless of what happens, it’s just good to know Rossi’s healing process is going well. According to Rossi’s surgeon, Dr. Roberto Buzzi, VR 46 is healing “as expected.”
Dr. Roberto Buzzi says “Today Valentino underwent another small operation to close the wound, which is looking good. We closed it with 15 stitches and our overall medical judgment is positive. We used a short general anesthetic and when he woke up he was in good shape. The healing process of the injury is going well and as expected in Valentino’s condition.”
The Doctor’s updates here at UltimateMotorCyling.com
Stop back for more updates and we continue to wish Vale a very speedy recovery.