1987 500cc world champion Wayne Gardner believes that new Ducati MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has lost the gamble he made by not seeking earlier surgery for his shoulder injury.
Rossi, a seven-time MotoGP champion, injured his shoulder in a motocross training accident shortly after last year's opening round.
Despite being initially described as a minor injury, the ligament damage proved reluctant to heal and - even after he had returned from a broken leg at Mugello - Rossi was still struggling with the shoulder.
But by then, shoulder surgery would have meant missing his last races for Yamaha - and the chance to try the Ducati at the end-of-season Valencia test.
Rossi therefore gambled that he would gain more by delaying surgery until after the Valencia test, than by missing the test and being in better physical shape for the start of the 2011 season.
Gardner however feels that Rossi, just seventh on his Ducati race debut at Qatar earlier this month, should have gone for surgery earlier and has now been left with 'the worst of both worlds'.
“The reason [Rossi] opted to continue [racing rather than have surgery] had a lot to do with his desire to test the Ducati at Valencia in November,” Gardner wrote in his weekly review for waynegardnerapproved.com
“With that test painfully acquainting the nine-times world champion with the Desmosedici's major design faults, it looked like the call may have been the right one.
“Afterall, if it's detailed feedback and evaluation Ducati engineers were looking for, they certainly received it in spades. For Rossi, the sacrifice of delaying surgery appeared as though it would pay off in the form of a totally re-configured motorcycle for the start of 2011.
“That's why I'm baffled at the current situation the team find themselves in. The bike appears to be virtually the same as last years'. In fact, if you look at the times set in Qatar, you could argue that it's actually worse.
“To add insult to injury (or should that be injury to insult?), their star recruit is struggling with a shoulder that still looks to be far from its best. It's a complete disaster and I can see no significant benefit in Rossi having delayed his surgery to test the bike late last year.”
Rossi's second race for Ducati takes place at Jerez this weekend.