Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.
Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).
If his shoulder is still not up to racing levels, Rossi may not be able to fully diagnose what he needs from the GP11, setting Ducati Corse back a few steps from the rest of the competition. A statement from Rossi and a slew of hi-res photos await you after the jump.
“First of all, thanks to Filippo (Preziosi) and to Ducati, who organized this test. Misano Circuit let us use the track on a day when Mattia (Pasini) was planning to ride in order to confirm his own condition. The track more or less confirmed what we expected: the shoulder is painful—especially under braking, when the front area hurts, where they stitched the tendon. Movement is stable enough, and we’re also doing not so bad with endurance, but apart from that, it hurts a lot and isn’t very strong. Let’s hope it gets a little better in these next few days before the test in Malaysia. Once we’re there, we’ll work with the riding position in an effort to make the most of the situation and collect important information with the Desmosedici, even though I’m not in top form. Today I did a total of 25 laps on the 1198 Superbike, which is sort of a ‘historic’ motorcycle for Ducati: beautiful and fast. I liked it!”