Franco Morbidelli says Valentino Rossi’s positive COVID-19 test is a stark reminder of the ‘luck’ factor that plays a part in avoiding the virus, saying riders can follow the strictest protocol yet still fall foul.

Rossi was forced to pull out of the Aragon MotoGP - and by extension next weekend’s Teruel MotoGP at the same Motorland Aragon circuit - after he was diagnosed suffering with the virus that has wreaked havoc globally this year.

Though Morbidelli has a close relationship with Rossi, he confirmed he had  no contact with his Yamaha counterpart since Le Mans, but says the Italian’s respect for the rules means it is surprising that he would be the first MotoGP rider to be struck down.

He says it shows that even with the strictest measures in place, the virus can still penetrate this and should serve as a reminder to riders to stay vigilant to keep themselves from being caught out.

“I didn’t see him after he tested positive, only at Le Mans. It’s a very sad situation, especially because I know the level of respect Vale has for the rules of COVID-19 so it means it can anyone and it really depends on looking at a normal amount of safety and respect for the rules, but also luck. 

“Respecting the rules is important and once you respect the rules you’re not safe anyway. It depends on luck.”

With media questioning the close relationship Rossi has with various riders through his Ranch and VR46 Academy, Morbidelli says they don’t come in contact during back-to-back weekends.

“The guys from the Academy didn’t train and don’t train between back-to-back races, we don’t meet each other between back-to-back races. The event in Misano on the Wednesday [last month] was a team event of Valentino and his team, I wasn’t there, nobody from the Rider Academy was there. 

“We don’t meet each other between back-to-backs, so that’s one fact. We have to be careful and even more careful in order to not get infected by this virus.”

Though the Petronas SRT Yamaha’s burgeoning title hopes look to have been ruined by his DNF last time out in Le Mans, the Italian has enjoyed strong form in 2020 and is looking in good shape in Aragon after setting the third fastest time. 

He admits he feels he has good momentum - notably his maiden win in Misano - which positively impacts his results going forward.

“It’s a circle; once you start to have good results, your mindset gets better and once your mindset gets better you start to have better results. We will have to see how the pace is but if the race was tomorrow, i’d be able to fight for the win and hopefully it will be like this tomorrow.  

“Hopefully we will have a smooth qualifying, which we were missing in Le Mans because we had the pace to win in the dry. We will see what we can aim for tomorrow evening.”