Runaway 2010 MotoGP World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha test rider Wataru Yoshikawa have both spoken to welcome record-breaking motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi back to the fray for this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
Subject to final approval from the undulating, wooded Saxon circuit's chief medical officer, reigning world champion Rossi will return to his M1 in Germany [see separate story – click here
], just six weeks on from the Mugello practice accident that had left him with a broken leg and also – or so it seemed at the time – broken title dreams.
Whilst the recovery to end all recoveries to add to his eight premier class crowns this year still looks to be an extremely tall order, it is not impossible, meaning the pressure remains on Lorenzo to keep his imperious run going, having gone impressively undefeated in the last three outings and looking every inch a champion in-waiting as he has accrued a 52-point advantage in the riders' standings.
This time last year, the Spaniard was pipped to the top step of the rostrum at the Sachsenring by the skin of his teeth at the end of a tooth-and-nail duel with Rossi – taking the chequered flag just under a hundredth of a second down on his Italian team-mate – but as the undisputed man-of-the-moment twelve months on, the 23-year-old is in confident spirits of adding to his incredible victory tally of five from seven thus far in 2010.
“Sachsenring is a track that I like, but I've never won there,” he conceded. “It's the same for Laguna [Seca], so I'm excited about these two nice challenges before the holidays! Sachsenring is quite a difficult track, with a lot of ups-and-downs, and it's also one of the shortest tracks in MotoGP. We don't know about the weather; it can be very hot there, but it would be better than rain. I'm happy Valentino is back – welcome to him!”
“Sachsenring is an interesting track and it's not one that I know, but it seems Yamaha has a good record there,” added Lorenzo's FIAT Yamaha team manager Wilco Zeelenberg. “Jorge has never won – in fact he only has one podium – and I don't think it's one of his favourites, but he is in great form so we have to feel confident of a good weekend.
“We have won three in a row, and I don't think we can win every time so as usual our target will be to get onto the podium. We have a 52-point lead in the standings, so we can afford to be careful and not to take too many risks.”
Assuming Rossi is given the go-ahead to rejoin the field in Germany, it will spell a swift conclusion to Yoshikawa's stint aboard the M1, after the Japanese veteran competed for the team at Catalunya earlier this month, but due to a complete lack of recent racing experience both qualified and finished a distant last. The 41-year-old remains on-hand should his services again be required to fill in.
“Though only one month has passed since Mugello, Valentino is back and I am amazed at the marvellous recovery he has made,” he stated. “I respect his decision to try to ride, and it seems from the R1 test he did that he is still very fast!
“I am ready to ride if I need to, but it will be good if Valentino is back in his rightful place. I have learnt a lot from riding the M1 in a racing environment, and I think it will be useful in my future development work.”