F1

Yamaha in no rush to replace injured Valentino Rossi

LONDON: Yamaha will keep Valentino Rossi’s place open for the next couple of races before calling up a stand-in for their injured MotoGP champion.

Team manager Davide Brivio told the official motogp.com website on Monday that there was no rush to replace the charismatic Italian, who is likely to miss most of the rest of the season after breaking his leg in practice for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

“We will probably miss the next couple of races because that is allowed under the regulations and then if, as I think, Valentino stays out for more we have to find a replacement,” said Brivio.

“It’s very strange to speak about Valentino’s replacement,” he added. “But we will try to find the best solution we can.”

Rossi, 31 and a nine-times world champion in all categories, is expected to be out for between four and five months. Under MotoGP regulations, a team must replace an injured rider after two races without him.

The season ends in Valencia, Spain, on Nov 7.

Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, the championship leader who has already proved to be Rossi’s toughest team mate this season, will therefore be the team’s solo rider at Silverstone in Britain next week and at Assen in the Netherlands on June 26.

Brivio told the Gazzetta dello Sport (www.gazzetta.it) that the choice of replacement was not obvious, with the team’s test riders unsuitable and American superbike world champion Ben Spies under contract to the non-works Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP team.

“If it were up to Yamaha to decide alone, we would not enlist anyone to take his (Rossi’s) place from now to the end of the championship,” added the team manager.

Past Parallels

Lorenzo and compatriot Dani Pedrosa, the winner in Italy with Honda, are now clear favourites for the title in the absence of the sport’s biggest draw.

Spain has only ever had one world champion in motorcycling’s top category, with Alex Criville winning the 500cc title for Honda in 1999.

In an eerie parallel with 11 years ago, Criville won his title after Australian world champion Mick Doohan crashed in practice for that year’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez and suffered career-ending injuries.

Doohan had won the previous five titles and Criville, like Lorenzo now, was the reigning champion’s team mate at the time.

Rossi, who fractured his right shin and fibula in the crash and underwent surgery on Saturday, had made a record 230 successive grand prix starts prior to Sunday.

The Italian showman had enjoyed a remarkably injury-free career and had not missed a race since he made his debut in the 125cc category at the 1996 Malaysian Grand Prix.

“The fact it’s his leg is going to hamper his chances of coming back fit and strong,” Ducati’s Australian Casey Stoner, the 2007 world champion who has had his own injury and sickness problems, said at the weekend.

“If it’s something like your arm or wrist, you can still get out and run or cycle to keep your fitness going. With a leg injury, unfortunately you’re lying in the lounge for a little while,” he added.

“It’s going to be a really difficult situation for him to come back from this for this year.”

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