Valentino Rossi has insisted he will do his utmost to finish his final season with Yamaha, despite the on-going pain and discomfort caused by his badly damaged right shoulder. After struggling to a distant sixth-place at the Motorland Aragon track two weeks ago, the 31-year-old expressed doubts that he would be able to finish the 2010 campaign. He said he would decide after the run of three successive flyaway races in Japan, Malaysia and Australia whether to withdraw from the championship to undergo surgery on the right shoulder he damaged in April while training on a motocross bike.
Speaking at a rain-lashed Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan today, the Fiat Yamaha rider said he was desperate to honor his Yamaha contract and compete in the Estoril and Valencia races in late October and early November, Despite his shoulder injury woes, the Italian is still firmly in the hunt for third-place in the world championship rankings and trails Aussie rival Casey Stoner by 15 points going into Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The nine-time world champion said: “Unfortunately the shoulder is the same. I don’t want to give up and I want to try and arrive at the end of the season but I have to think about it race-by-race and day-by -day. On paper this track is the worst one for the shoulder because there is a lot of hard braking on the right. Malaysia and Phillip Island it might be better but three races in a row is not very good. But I try to resist and to arrive at the end of the championship. That’s my target.”
After Aragon it was clear Rossi’s pain was going to keep him off the podium but will Motegi prove to be too hard for his injured shoulder?
Rossi said he could not foresee how his shoulder would react to the stress of Motegi’s hard braking points or whether it would withstand the punishment of riding in three successive races. But he said if his form continued to be as disappointing as the Motorland Aragon race when he finished close to 30 seconds behind winner Stoner, he said: “For sure if I have to fight for seventh or eighth it is better to stop. But I want to arrive at the end of the season before making the surgery for next year. Sincerely I can’t answer because I don’t know what will happen. Maybe this race will be impossible for me to make the whole race or maybe I have so much pain I can’t ride in Sepang. But I want to respect my contract with Yamaha as much as possible and I don’t want to give up easily.”
Rossi said his plight was making it increasingly difficult for him to keep his motivation, but he was determined not to walk away to undertake surgery. He added: “I want to finish my story with Yamaha with some good races and some good results. My work is to make the whole championship because I have already jumped four races and I want to try and finish the championship. But if I have too much pain it is better to stay at home.”
Rossi and Lorenzo will be receiving the updated M1 engine to hopefully put Yamaha back at the front of the pack.
One major boost for Rossi in the Far East was confirmation that he will get to use an upgraded factory YZR-M1 engine this weekend. Rossi has complained recently about Yamaha’s lack of top speed and acceleration compared to Honda and Ducati. The response from Yamaha will see a new motor rolled out this weekend and Rossi said: “Yamaha has respected me when they said my bike and the bike of Jorge would be the same for the rest of the season and we have one (new engine) each. We tried at the test in Brno and it was a small improvement, so we expect to be a bit closer to the other manufacturers. But I don’t think it is enough to arrive at the same level. I hope in these three races our bike suffers less compared to Aragon, which was the worst circuit for the M1.”
With his podium streak broken at Aragon, Lorenzo is aiming high with an updated M1 engine loaded and ready to go.
Jorge Lorenzo is hoping an updated factory Yamaha YZR-M1 motor will help catapult him close to the 2010 MotoGP world championship crown in Japan this weekend. The 23-year-old holds a commanding 56-point lead over Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa but hasn’t won since the Brno race in the Czech Republic back in mid-August. And the Fiat Yamaha rider was livid earlier this month when he surrendered his 100% podium record at the new Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain.
Lorenzo was upset about a lack of top speed and acceleration from his YZR-M1 machine. But Yamaha will roll out an upgraded Inline Four motor for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi. The double 250GP world champion, who won in Japan last season, said: “I am not able to relax but I am in a great position, although we are not in the best shape technically because we have a small power disadvantage. Yamaha are working on this and here we have a new evolution of engine that should help me. But I think even with the same condition we’ve had in the last two races I can make a better result than Aragon. If everything is normal we can be fighting for the podium or a victory.”
This weekend’s Japanese clash is the first of a flyaway triple-header with Sepang in Malaysia and Phillip Island in Australia coming in quick succession. Lorenzo denied that he would need to be more cautious to protect his advantage with Pedrosa enjoying a brilliant run of form that has seen him finish in the top two at the previous four races.
Lorenzo added: “Obviously you think a little bit about the championship because the important thing this year is the championship and the points are important. In this situation I must keep going fast but also you must be prudent and calculating with less risk. I will try to be as fast as I can but also not doing any crazy things.”
Scott Redding has confirmed signing a new two-year Moto2 deal with the Marc VDS Racing squad. The 17-year-old’s new deal was confirmed at a cold and wet Twin Ring Motegi circuit today, setting for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. Redding claimed his first podium of the season last month in Indianapolis and has qualified on the front row of the grid in each of the previous three races on board a Suter MMX machine.
The new deal, which was signed by Team President Marc van der Straten on Monday, will see Redding spearhead the Marc VDS Racing Team’s assault on the Moto2 World Championship in both 2011 and 2012. The Gloucestershire rider said: “I’m happy to have signed a deal with the Marc VDS Racing Team that will keep me in the Moto2 World Championship for the next two years. The team are one of the best in the paddock and I really feel at home here. Under the guidance of Michael Bartholemy and Pete Benson I feel I’ve really progressed as a rider and it was the team spirit that really helped me come to terms with the aftermath of Misano. Marc van der Straten has shown a lot of faith in me by agreeing a two-year deal and I hope I can repay his confidence with race wins and, ultimately, the Moto2 World Championship title in the future.”
Marc VDS Racing boss Michael Bartholemy said the target for 2011 would be to see Redding emerge as a consistent podium contender to bolster his hopes of challenging for the title. The former factory Kawasaki boss said: “Scott has matured a lot as a rider this season and we’re now starting to see him realise his true potential. The third place in Indianapolis was only the start and he has every chance of taking his first race win in the Moto2 class before the end of the season. Next year we will be looking to improve his consistency, to transform him into a real title contender. Working with Scott has, for me personally, been an enjoyable experience this season and I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the close working relationship with him over the next two years.”
The 2011 British Grand Prix at Silverstone will take place on June 12 after next season’s MotoGP calendar was unveiled in Japan today. The Silverstone race will be Round 7 of the campaign and falls in between the Catalunya (June 5) race and Assen (June 25). Valentino Rossi’s Ducati debut, Casey Stoner’s first appearance for Honda and Cal Crutchlow’s premier class bow will come on March 20 in Qatar.
The schedule will again feature 18 races with no new tracks on the calendar. The Motorland Aragon circuit, which stepped into replace the Balatonring in Hungary, remains on the schedule and will take place on September 18.
Valencia will once again be the last race, though Estoril has been moved from the penultimate round to the fourth race. The Portugal round will be held on May 1 and immediately follows the Japanese race at the Twin Ring Motegi on April 24.
Full 2011 calendar
20th March – Qatar* – Losail
3rd April – Spain – Jerez
24th April – Japan – Motegi
1st May – Portugal – Estoril
15th May – France – Le Mans
5th June – Catalunya – Catalunya
12th June – Great Britain – Silverstone
25th June – Netherlands** – Assen
3rd July – Italy – Mugello
17th July – Germany – Sachsenring
24th July – United States*** – Laguna Seca
14th August – Czech Republic – Brno
28th August – Indianapolis – Indianapolis
4th September – San Marino & Riviera di Rimini – Misano
18th September – Aragon – Motorland
16th October – Australia – Phillip Island
23rd October – Malaysia – Sepang
6th November – Valencia – Ricardo Tormo Valencia
* Night Race
** Saturday Race
*** Only MotoGP class