Andrea Dovizioso is in a race against time to reach full fitness for the MotoGP season opener after suffering a shoulder injury in a motocross race, raising the age-old question of whether riders should participate in risky training activities such as motocross or dirt track?

Dovizioso underwent surgery for a fractured left collarbone after falling on the landing of a jump, leaving the triple MotoGP title runner-up with just over two weeks to recover until MotoGP action resumes at Jerez.

Ducati allowed Dovizioso to take part in the motocross race by explaining that the Italian told them he needed to, “rediscover the stimuli and sensations that only a real competition can give”, according to sporting director Paolo Ciabatti.

Putting aside the question of whether entering a race was wise, Ciabatti pointed out that, “motocross is the discipline with which many of the MotoGP riders train regularly” - implying that the injury could have happened to anyone, at any time.

But is such training really necessary?

Dovizioso isn’t the first rider injured while training this year, with fellow 2019 race winner Maverick Vinales spending a night in hospital after a motocross incident in March.

Meanwhile, Jorge Lorenzo’s Repsol Honda problems began when he suffered a fractured wrist while training ahead of the 2019 season, forcing him to have surgery and miss the pre-season Sepang test.

Another recent training accident was for seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who - just days after finishing a fraction from victory at Silverstone in 2017 - broke his right leg in an enduro accident, forcing him to miss his home Misano GP and ruining any remaining title hopes that season.

So why do MotoGP riders take such risks during training? Why don’t they just do gym work for example?

Firstly, because the best way to train for riding a motorbike, is by riding a motorbike. While the physical side can be replicated through a myriad of other exercises, reflexes, bike control and riding technique need to be honed and sharpened on two wheels.

As Valentino Rossi said, “I always ride motocross because I enjoy it a lot and I think it’s the best training, physically and mentally.”

Dirt track or Supermoto - using motocross bikes but without jumps - have become a popular compromise. Rossi’s Moto Ranch is famous for its dirt track course and races involving the VR46 Academy riders, but he also continues to visit local motocross tracks.

As does current six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, who perhaps sums it up best, saying that “even when you ride a bicycle, you can crash. When you ride anything, many things can happen. Staying on the sofa will be easy and good, but then you can’t improve. If something is going to happen, it will happen, but I will keep riding motocross”.

Providing a good case both for and against motocross or dirt track training is Cal Crutchlow. The Englishman barely rides a motorcycle during the winter, yet was fourth fastest and top Honda at the end of the opening day at the Sepang Test in February.

But the avid cyclist also suffered a tibia fracture last year whilst on his bicycle, adding weight to the argument that nothing on two wheels is ever safe. The Englishman also famously severed the tendon on his left index finger while cutting cheese during 2017!

But bearing in mind that some other motorsports - such as Formula 1 - do not allow their drivers to partake in any obviously dangerous training activities, do you think MotoGP riders should be permitted to take part in motorised two-wheel activities outside of their grand prix duties? Is it really worth the risk? Give your opinion in the comments section below...

 

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