Rossi admits motocross ‘career’ could be over

MX was one of the main subjects of talk in the Mugello paddock as MotoGP gathered in burning sunshine in Italy

Valentino Rossi’s crash at the Cavallara circuit this week and the sense of doubt over his fitness for the sixth round of MotoGP and at the Mugello Autodromo where he seeks an eighth victory was a subject that again reared comment and opinion on motocross and the risks inherent.

This is not a fresh fuss for Rossi who injured his right shoulder seven years ago on the dirt and has since publicly claimed that the sport was too dangerous and part of the reasoning behind construction of his famous ‘The Ranch’ dirt track complex. It seemed the factory Yamaha star had in fact kept busy on YZ. ‘I always ride motocross and [even] after 2010 because I like it and enjoy it a lot,’ he said at Mugello on Thursday in a packed media debrief. ‘I also think it is the best training physically and mentally but perhaps after this crash my ‘career’ is over! I feel lucky because, sincerely, with that crash it was easy to break something and stay at home for two races and the most important of the season.’

The thirty-eight year old suffered chest and abdomen injury after going over the bars misjudging a jump. ‘On the end of a jump I landed a metre outside of the track and [the ground] was soft and not prepared,’ he explained. ‘When I landed the bike stopped and I went [over] the front. The handle bar hit me here [gestures to chest].’

‘I was quite negative about the race [Gran Premio d’Italia] but in two days it has improved a lot. Now we have to see how it will be on the M1.’

Rossi had an overnight hospital stay to check on any internal damage but has since been back on two wheels (on a T-Max scooter and an R6 Supersport bike) and will assess his possibilities for a race where he looked very competitive twelve months previously. ‘To change direction – which here in Mugello is quite severe – and secondly to push longer is hard and I still have some pain,’ he said referring to question marks over the three days ahead. ‘So I need to understand this and whether I can recover enough.’

The Italian’s latest misadventure highlighted motocross as a popular form of training with the likes of Marc Marquez, Maverick Viñales, Andrea Dovizioso, Jack Miller, Jonas Folger, Scott Redding and more active on dirt bikes. Some felt compelled to justify the discipline switch.

‘Valentino, me, other riders: at home on the sofa you will not improve,’ reasoned Marquez, allegedly the fastest motocrosser in MotoGP. ‘You must train and do something. Even when you ride with a bicycle you can crash…there are many things [risks] in the life. It is something we have to have and I will keep riding motocross.’

‘It is important to do a lot of sports and train in a smart way,’ offered Ducati’s Dovizioso. ‘You cannot stay at home and just train in the gym. I don’t agree with the people that say we should not do motocross.’

‘Guys have been injured mountain-biking, dirt-track, motocross and on the track itself,’ reasoned Red Bull KTM’s Bradley Smith; a staunch fan of the sport but somewhat inactive after the removal of his left ACL last year due to a crash in practice for the final round of the 2016 FIM Endurance World Championship. ‘Nicky’s [Hayden] situation happened like it did: what are you going to do? It is the team’s decision: if they want to wrap the riders in cotton wool then go ahead and do it but it is not my job or your to point fingers and say what motorcycle racers should do. You will not go to a manager of a football team and say: “you are not doing the training the right way”. At the end of the day I always trust professionals to make a professional decision as much as possible.’

Photos by CormacGP

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