Valentino Rossi is expecting to “suffer” in Sunday’s MotoGP race at Motorland Aragon as he competes just 23 days after suffering a double leg-break in a training accident.
Rossi was forced to miss the last race at Misano due to the injury and was expected to miss the Aragon Grand Prix, only to make a shock return and be cleared by MotoGP’s medical staff on Thursday.
Rossi qualified a remarkable third on Saturday for Yamaha, less than two-tenths of a second behind pole-sitting teammate Maverick Viñales, surprising himself in the process.
“It’s a surprise for me and us, because I didn’t know what to expect,” Rossi said.
“A week ago I started to think maybe it was possible to ride here, and I did some laps with the R1 [bike] thinking it could be possible but with some pain. But the leg has improved every day.
“My position on the bike isn’t perfect but quite close to the normal one, at first we changed some things but now I’m using the normal footpeg and seat position and for sure it’s better.”
Despite impressing in qualifying, Rossi is less hopeful of his chances across a race distance, but is ready to give his all in the race.
“We still need to work a bit because with the race tire my pace isn’t fantastic but we’ll try,” Rossi said.
“On Friday morning when I woke up I was in pain, then this morning when I woke up it was better. So if tomorrow continues in the same way, I can do the race.
“But the bike is a bit more demanding on the race tires. For sure I have to suffer, but I’ll try.”
Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.
Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.
He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”
Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.
In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”
Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.
Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.