Valentino Rossi has defied critics who thought his latest double fracture might be a break too far for the 38-year-old veteran, promising fans he will be back on his bike “as soon as possible” after surgery in the small hours pinned his right leg back together again.
Rossi suffered a double displaced fracture to both lower bones in his right leg while training on an enduro bike with a group of his young proteges at the VR46 Training Ranch close to his home town of Tavullia. The accident happened late on Thursday afternoon.
Rossi was transferred to a hospital in nearby Urbino, then taken to the university hospital in the coastal city of Ancona. There the director of the Orthopaedics and Traumatology performed fixative surgery – inserting a “locked intramedullary nail” – between two and three am. There were no complications.
In a statement released this afternoon, Rossi sounded up-beat. “The surgery went well,” he said.
“This morning, when I woke up, I felt already good. I would like to thank the staff of the Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, and in particular Doctor Pascarella who operated on me.
“I’m very sorry for the incident. Now I want to be back on my bike as soon as possible. I will do my best to make it happen!”
This is the second time Rossi has broken his lower right leg: the first fracture was in 2010, in practice for the Italian GP at Mugello, with only the tibia broken. It was promptly pinned; Valentino underwent radical therapy, including spells in a hyperbaric chamber, to get back on his bike within six weeks, missing only three more races.
Should he achieve the same six-week turnaround this time, he would miss just two races, Misano and Aragon, and would be back just in time for the first free practice at the Japanese GP, first of three gruelling consecutive flyaways, followed over the next two weeks by Australia and Malaysia.
At 38, however, this seems an ambitious target.
In his 22-year career, Rossi has been remarkably free from injury; and most of them have happened while dirt-bike training. At the start of 2010, after the first round at Qatar, he sustained a shoulder injury while motocrossing. This gave trouble for the rest of the year, and required surgical repair at the end of it.
Earlier this year, a fall from his motocross bike after landing in soft sand from a jump left him a dubious starter for the first of two home-country outings, the Italian GP at Mugello. Nothing was broken, but a painful midriff impact with his handlebar saw him admitted to hospital overnight. He was ruled fit to race, however, and finished fourth.
This second crash before another home outing is likely to hit ticket sales for the San Marino GP, although Ducati and Dovizioso leading the championship will help make up for it.
By Michael Scott