Saturday, July 10, 2010

Valentino Rossi Back On A Bike Already

Valentino Rossi has demonstrated his superhuman powers of healing by riding a motorcycle around his local track, Misano.

"The Doctor" wanted to try riding in order to see whether he could return to MotoGP at Sachsenring, on the grounds that it's not a very tough track physically and even if his leg fell off on the grid he'd still be about 12 seconds a lap faster than his Japanese no-hoper replacement.

It was reported that Valentino would be riding a street bike, but it turned out to be a Yamaha Italia World Superbike. In other words, a 200+bhp fire-breathing monster that bears only a passing resemblance to the street bike it's based on. (WSBK machines aren't far off MotoGP power levels or top speeds, but are a bit heavier and have larger, more torquey engines. They run full race suspension, the forks and swingarm of the donor roadbike having been chucked into a convenient skip.)

The hobbling Italian managed to lap just over a second slower than regular Yamaha Italia rider Cal Crutchlow did on an identical bike in the WSBK meeting at Misano, which is hugely impressive, because although Cal is familiar with gravel traps the world over, he's eye-wateringly quick on a flying lap and has bagged a few WSBK pole positions this year. (Rossi may have been riding on snazzy Bridgestone tyres rather than the usual WSBK Pirellis, but even so it was a great lap time.)

This means that Rossi knows he's quick enough to race at Sachsenring without making a complete horse's arse of himself, so it's just a question of stamina. The German track is short, so there are about a million laps. On the plus side, it isn't unknown for the weather to be pissing down in East Germany on race weekend. A wet race would be a massive boost as Rossi wouldn't have to put up with the full force of acceleration, cornering and braking as he would on a dry track.

What we've learned from this is that Rossi is a proper nutter who loves racing bikes. OK, we knew that stuff already, but it's impressive nevertheless.

The only question is, when does he announce his shock move to Ducati?

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