Valentino Rossi was released from the Hospital in Florence, Italy, where he has been since the high-speed high-side accident that took place at 4th round of the 2010 MotoGP series at Mugello.
He was taken by ambulance to a helicopter to a hospital in Cattolica that is much closer to his home. Rossi has been meeting with doctors to discuss the next steps needed to heal his broken shin. ‘The Doctor’ has been recovering following at least two surgeries and had enough energy to sit down for this insightful interview.
1. Vale, first question: how are you and are you still in pain?
Valentino Rossi: “The positive thing is that the worst is past and that the two operations went well, so everything is okay. Now I am expecting a difficult period, in which I have to be aware of the risk of infection and in which I must remain with the leg constantly elevated. Then there will come a second key period, when I will be able to start my rehabilitation and, with support on the leg, will be able to start to walk around with crutches.”
2. Dr. Buzzi talked about a rehabilitation period of about five or six months, what do you think?
Valentino Rossi: “It’s to be expected that Dr. Buzzi has been very cautious in his prognosis. I want to heal the injury; that is the only thing I’m interested in. If I miss four races or six races, it doesn’t make any difference. The right time to return could be Brno, but it won’t necessarily be like this.”
3. Do you remember the accident?
Valentino Rossi: “I remember everything perfectly. I didn’t hit my head, I didn’t hit anything else. The airbag in my leathers worked very well and my helmet was just slightly scratched. I don’t have a single bruise! The problem was that I landed on my leg, and it was stuck under my body.”
“If I had landed on my back it would have been different. I had a new tyre and I’d done two laps, then I slowed down because I had Barbera behind me. When I came back onto the racing line Pedrosa arrived and I didn’t want to cause a problem for him so I moved again but then when I reopened the gas, it happened suddenly and unexpectedly. Seven seconds were enough to make the tyre drop temperature dramatically. The error was mine.”
4. Who would you like to thank?
Valentino Rossi: “First of all I want to thank Professor Buzzi of the CTO Careggi in Florence and all of his staff, because they were brilliant. Fortunately, doing it at Mugello meant I wasn’t far from the Careggi and this was very lucky. I also want to thank everybody else at the Careggi and all the nurses because they treated me so well, then the staff at the Clinica Mobile and the marshals and officers at the Mugello circuit.”
“Finally, a big hello and particular thanks to all the fans because never, not even for a second, have they let me forget their affection and support. The messages I saw on Sunday on television from the circuit were beautiful.”
5. At any time since the accident has there been a moment when you have said “stop racing motorcycles”?
Valentino Rossi: “Sincerely, I haven’t felt any fear. I was a bit horrified when I saw the leg, yes…but the thing I dislike the most is to miss so many races! I will take all the time I need and be sure not to do anything stupid because I want to return quickly, but only if my condition allows it. I know I have a bike for next year and I don’t need to rush my return to demonstrate anything.”
“I could miss just four races but I still wouldn’t come back to win the championship. It’s better to be careful, finish the rehabilitation in the best way and come back to race for many more years. I’ve heard of many other sportsmen, a lot in fact, who have had the same problem as me.”
“One example for everyone: Mark Webber called me and he has had an exposed fracture of the right leg. He told me to be very patient and that I would have some moments of discomfort, but that in the end recovery was guaranteed.”
6. Now you have some time at home to rest and to think…
Valentino Rossi: “Yes, now I have a lot of time at home to rest, to recover and to think. Firstly, I want to use this time to improve some things. I want to improve my English, learn something new, read a lot. Basically, I want to improve and learn.”
“This I will do for sure. If your question instead is referring to 2011, this incident will not influence my choices for next year in any way. Last Saturday hasn’t changed anything. I just have one broken leg extra! The result of 2010, therefore, has never been relevant to my decisions for the future.”
7. During your enforced rest, will you also be working on your injured shoulder?
Valentino Rossi: “Definitely, yes. This is one of the few positive things about this incident; finally I can work on the rehabilitation of the shoulder, in no hurry, without operations and without races. From tomorrow I will restart the exercises, lying on my bed, and I am certain that when I return the shoulder will be completely recovered.”
“When I come back I will be in perfect shape, although it won’t mean that I can win straight away. When you return after an enforced break you not only have to think about the body, but also the mind. I won’t be able to come back and win immediately.”
The Fiat Yamaha Team and Dr. Buzzi also took some time to answer questions about the accident, the injury, the surgery, the recovery and the team’s plans going forwad.
1. What caused the accident? Was it rider error or a bike/tyre issue?
Davide Brivio, Fiat Yamaha Team Manager, Valentino Rossi’s crew: “Valentino was on his first flying lap with new hard tyres. At ‘Arrabbiata 2′ Valentino slowed down to let another rider pass, because he was following him. When Valentino opened the throttle again at ‘Biondetti’, the first corner on the left, having ridden for about a quarter of the track at a very low speed, the rear tyre had cooled down and lost grip suddenly, causing the crash. When Valentino lost the rear of the bike his speed was approximately 180kph and when he hit the ground it was approximately 150kph.”
2. What were Valentino’s exact injuries?
Professor Roberto Buzzi, MD, Trauma Unit, Careggi Hospital, Florence, Italy: “Valentino suffered a ‘grade 2′ open fracture of the distal third right tibia, as well as a bifocal fracture of the fibula.”
3. What exactly was done in the operation?
Professor Roberto Buzzi: “Debridement and lavage, stabilisation with locked intramedullary nailing and a VAC (vacuum assisted closure) application on Saturday 5th June. Then a second look and delayed primary closure on Monday 7th June.”
4. What is the expected recovery time for VR?
Professor Roberto Buzzi: “Six months.”
5. At which race can we expect him back?
Davide Brivio: “It is very difficult to say now. We will have to see, step by step, how his recovery goes. Around 45 days after the accident we will have a clearer picture about his condition. In the meantime he will be busy with the rehabilitation. At the moment we think it’s unlikely that he will be back within the next two months. If everything goes well we might see him racing in August or September.”
6. Where will he be spending his recovery time? Will he be attending any races?
Davide Brivio: “Valentino left the CTO in Florence today and travelled to Cattolica to meet with doctors close to his home. He will probably spend his entire recovery at home. We want Valentino to concentrate fully on his recovery and rehabilitation, therefore we will not involve him in any activities until he is back to the best physical condition. He will not be attending any races until that time, so the next time we will see Valentino at a track it means that he is ready to race again.”
7. Will anything be done to his shoulder during this time?
Davide Brivio: “Yes, of course the next couple of months will be very useful for the shoulder recovery as well. His doctors will be attending to this as well. Due to the recent accident the shoulder rehabilitation program has had to be updated because he has had to change some exercises, but from tomorrow he will be starting to work on the shoulder as well.”
8. When will Yamaha field a replacement? Why not straight away?
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing: “Firstly let me say that I am very happy that Vale has left the hospital today to return to his home area. This is a good sign as it means that his recovery is proceeding well and now he will start the rehabilitation program that will return him to full fitness.”
“Concerning the replacement rider – we have decided to field a replacement rider from the Catalunya Grand Prix on 4th July. We have chosen the Catalunya Grand Prix to respect our Team Participation obligations to the MotoGP championship and also to take time to select the most suitable rider and to make sure we’re organised and well prepared for this new situation.”
9. Who will the replacement be?
Lin Jarvis: “At this moment I am unable to tell you who the rider will be because we have not yet made a definitive decision. We expect to be able to inform you of our plan next week or at the latest at the Silverstone MotoGP event.”
10. Who are the staff members not coming to Silverstone and Assen?
Lin Jarvis: “The Fiat Yamaha Team members working closely with Valentino will not come to Silverstone or Assen, i.e. his Team Manager, his Crew Chief and his mechanics. They will return in Barcelona and they will support the stand-in rider. All other Team and Corporate staff members will attend the coming races as usual.”
11. How does this affect your sponsors? Are they okay about missing two races?
Lin Jarvis: “We have been receiving messages of solidarity and understanding from all of our sponsors, without exception. They, like Yamaha, are all looking forward to Valentino returning in perfect shape. Valentino’s garage will be set up in Silverstone and Assen and both his YZR-M1s will be there for the fans to see.”
12. Will Valentino be meeting the media during his recovery time?
William Favero, Communications Manager, Yamaha Motor Racing: “Valentino will not be giving any interviews to press or television during his recovery time. All Yamaha wants is for him to focus on his rehabilitation and make a full recovery. Yamaha will arrange a press conference with Valentino in due course.”
“In the meantime we will make sure that our sponsors, the fans and the international media are kept updated about his condition through our official spokesmen and team press releases, with the same efficiency and transparency with which we have treated this issue so far.”