Since the opening round of 2014 MotoGP at Qatar, Valentino Rossi has put in nothing but strong performances.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pilot spent the opening 12 rounds chasing the reigning MotoGP Champion, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. His performance for those 12 rounds? Eight podiums.
Things only got better for the nine-time World Champion at his home race in Misano for round 13. The 35-year-old Italian displayed pure talent, winning his first race of 2014 MotoGP, and also his first since Assen last season.
But the unthinkable happened to the Doctor at Sunday’s Aragon Grand Prix – a crash that appeared bone breaking. The wreck occured while Rossi battled for third with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa on the fourth lap.
Rossi ran wide in the down hill section ahead of turn seven, running off the Spanish circuit. He then lost traction on a slippery patch of artificial grass. This caused a heavy crash, and knocked Rossi unconscious. He regained consciousness quickly, but was taken off the track on a stretcher.
Initial reports showed no injury, and neither did his follow-up appointment Monday morning with Dr. Michele Zasa from the Clinica Mobile.
Rossi immediately went back to work once he was cleared, and returned to the paddock where he and Aragon MotoGP’s race winner Jorge Lorenzo filmed a commercial for Movistar.
Though he earned no points, the title battle remains similar to what it was heading into Aragon MotoGP. With four rounds remaining, Rossi trails Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, who finished 13th Sunday, by 78 points. Rossi is only three points behind the second-place rider, Pedrosa.
Because Rossi wasn’t present for race follow-up interviews, Yamaha conducted an interview Monday. The YZR-M1 pilot says he’s doing fine, and is looking forward to the final four rounds.
Q: Valentino, how are you today?
Valentino Rossi says: “I’m fine, everything is ok, and this is the most important thing. I did not injure myself too much except for a big bump to the head. Last night I had a little headache but today I’m fine, I’m 100%.
“It was a real shame because before the race we made a change that would have helped me a lot; the bike was strong, I was going well, I had recovered the gap in the first few laps and I was there with the leading riders.
“I felt good and I am sure I could have made a good race, so it was a real shame to fall. In a way I’m almost glad because even though we had a difficult weekend on Sunday we were competitive and this was supposed to be a track that is not very good for us.”
Q: Have you watched the race? What can you say about your crash and about your rivals’ race?
Valentino Rossi says: “Unfortunately, like Iannone I went onto the artificial grass. This is always very dangerous and especially in these cases because the track was still wet from the morning shower and there was nothing to be done.
“Marc and Dani tried to stay on track on the slick tires but they took a big risk and in fact they crashed. In my case, if I had gone off track one meter before, I would have just gone wide, instead I touched the grass and I fell.”
Q: We have a triple back-to-back ahead of us in Asia and Australia. How do you see the coming races?
Valentino Rossi says: “Now there are three races in a row, three races that are all beautiful and I know all tracks very well. I like all of them a lot. I will try to do my best as we have done in the last races.”