The Doctor is in a race against time to recover from shoulder surgery.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi admits that season 2011 could be the most challenging of his career as he races against time to recover from shoulder surgery before his official Ducati race debut in March.
The Italian, speaking at Ducati’s annual Wrooom Press Ski event yesterday evening, told the journalists assembled that his recovery period is a long one and he may not be 100 percent fit until April or May.
“Honestly, I had hoped to be a little better by this time,” Rossi admitted. “But instead, it’s going to be quite a race to have decent fitness in time for the first test. My recovery is exactly on schedule, but it’s long.
“We’re working hard to at least recover mobility in my shoulder, which I’ll need to ride the bike well and to be able to fit behind the windscreen.”
With development all important on the latest Desmosedici GP11, lacking fitness at Sepang’s first test of the year at the beginning of February could massively hamper Rossi’s progress come race time.
“I won’t be able to be in top form for the first test in Malaysia, because it will be impossible to regain full strength, but I hope to be able to have a good seating position,” he continued.
“The doctors assured me that the shoulder will return to 100 percent in a few months. Obviously, it would’ve been better to be in shape now, because we’ve got a lot of work to do and not much time to do it.
“[There are] three tests before the championship to make the Desmosedici not only very fast – it already is – but also a little easier to ride. We’ll have to meet each other halfway – make the bike like I like, and as for me, adapt my riding style a little to try and make the most of the bike.
“It will be an emotional challenge, it will be difficult, but I’m happy because there’s a lot of extra motivation.
“They’re very excited at Ducati, they believe in me, and we’ll do our best!”
Rossi made his debut in Ducati red at the Wrooom event this week.