Valentino Rossi returned to the MotoGP paddock on Thursday at Aragon, just 21 days after breaking his right tibia and fibula in an enduro training accident.

Having ridden laps on an R1 superbike at Misano on Monday and Tuesday, the nine-time world champion has decided to try an early return to grand prix action this weekend.

The first hurdle was a medical test by the circuit doctor, which Rossi passed, and he will now (weather permitting) take to the track in Friday's opening practice session.

Following surgery, doctors had predicted the Italian star would need 30-40 days recovery, which is similar to the timeframe needed when Rossi previously broke his leg in 2010.

Rossi remains fourth in the world championship, but has slipped 42-points behind joint title leaders Marc Marquez (Honda) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), after being forced to miss the previous Misano round.

However Rossi denied that his slim title chance is the main motivation for this weekend's return, instead saying the sooner he is back on a MotoGP bike, the sooner he can fully recover.

Yamaha's WorldSBK star Michael van der Mark remains on standby for a MotoGP debut, should Rossi decide not to complete the full weekend.

This is what the #46 had to say to the media at Aragon…

What's the plan this weekend?

Valentino Rossi: First of all, I'm happy to try and ride. I need to understand the feeling with the MotoGP bike because it's a bit different. In general I feel quite good, fortunately not too much pain and getting better every day.

I tried some laps in Misano and the feeling was for sure a bit of pain, but I can ride. So we wait for tomorrow and try to understand if it's possible to ride the MotoGP bike at a good level.

Also this race is very important to improve for the next races, to try to come back at a good level earlier. We need to understand also the leg - between Friday, Saturday and Sunday, what's happened. We hope for good weather and we see tomorrow on the bike.

Some say you are crazy to come back so soon?

Valentino Rossi: I think that every injury is different. It depends very much on the type of fracture and also I was lucky because I had a very good doctor for the operation, and the operation went well.

At the beginning for sure in my mind was more [to cone back] in Motegi. But day-by-day I improve a lot. I work very hard to have a good level of power and less pain in the leg.

I think that it's important to come back on the bike as soon as possible and not stay for at home for another race, because that way I will need less time to come back to a good level. So I will try.

What gives you the most pain on the bike?

Valentino Rossi: When I ride the motorcycle I have pain where I have the fracture, so on the tibia that is quite low and the fibula that is quite high. And I suffer a bit in the change of direction. For sure I'm not [moving] fast on the bike like at the maximum [fitness]. Also on the right corners I suffer a bit more because I feel a bit more pain.

But everyday it's coming a bit better, so I hope that also during the weekend the leg improves, I can make more kilometres on the bike and be more comfortable in that position.

Are you coming back because you feel the championship is still alive?

Valentino Rossi: No, it's not for the championship. I mean everything is open, but especially everything is open for the first three [in the championship]. But it's not for that. It's because I want to try to get back to a good shape as soon as possible and I think this is the best way.

How is it possible to do this comeback at 38 years and after 9 titles?

Valentino Rossi: Unfortunately the number of titles is no help when you have an injury! Sincerely, about the age, depends very much on the type of fracture and your motivation. I want to be here. I suffer a lot to miss the Misano race and it's very important to try to be focussed, to work and have a good team, good help to do the right things. Also the motivation to come back as soon as possible on the bike is important.

How much is down to medical treatment, how much is motivation?

Valentino Rossi: First of all, for this type of fracture, now they always put a pin into the tibia, also for normal people, not just riders. So also normal people are able to shorten the recovery time. It's very important the surgery, if everything is ok, and I feel a lot, lot better compared to seven years ago.

So I can come back earlier because this fracture is different, but also because the medicine has improved a lot. I remember in 2010 after the surgery I had five or six days where I was very, very bad and this time already the next day I was able to go back home. So I think also the medicine improved a lot.

The motivation in this occasion is very important. I, like all the other guys, want to come back as soon as possible because it's what we like and what we want to do. Also this makes the difference to have less recovery time.

Were you worried about passing the medical test at the circuit?

Valentino Rossi: I was quite positive about the test, because last time in Sachsenring [in the 2010 comeback] I was in a worse condition. Now I'm able also to walk without the stampella [crutch].

It's very important the load that you can put on the leg and already mine is quite good. And also the movement of the knee, or the ankle, they test everything. But also the leg is good to look at, it's not swollen and a normal colour. So it was quite easy.

When did you start thinking about racing at Aragon?

Valentino Rossi: In the first days after the accident I understood that I feel a lot, lot less pain compared to last time. So I think that I can make in a shorter time. Anyway the first week was difficult, but after the first 10 days I start to improve a lot, every day, and started to have a good feeling from the leg and ankle. And then I start to think about Aragon.

I know it's difficult. Just 3 weeks. We speak also with my crew, my guys and I think that is very important anyway to try to ride the bike even if at Aragon it will be very, very difficult. Also to finish the race.

But it's very important not to lose another race, also because after Aragon you have three weeks before Motegi and it's also very important for the last part of the season, also to understand what we have to do more precisely with the leg to come back to the top.

What will be a good result on Sunday? In 2010 you were fighting for the podium…

Valentino Rossi: Last time was a big surprise. I lose the podium in the last lap, the last corner, with Stoner. But was a surprise also for me.

Difficult to say now. It's a bit different, the level is very high but especially last place is usually only 1.5s from pole position. I don’t know my level yet. I need to understand tomorrow.

First of all it's very important to try and improve day-by-day with the feeling on the bike and with the leg. Already, to finish the race is a good target and maybe take some points also. But it's very early to say. Let's wait for tomorrow.

Now have will have two 2018 frames?

Valentino Rossi: Yes, I think this time we have two bikes the same. It's good. More easy.

How would you feel if you were van der Mark? Have you spoken to him?

Valentino Rossi: No! I don’t speak with van der Mark, but Yamaha was always very close to me and Lin [Jarvis] came to the hospital one day after the surgery and also coming to my house one week later.

He always followed my progress and we were already agreed, I mean he said 'we are ready, but if you are able to come we are happy'. I think also van der Mark in the last days understood it was maybe difficult for him to ride this weekend!



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