Valentino Rossi finished day one of his home Italian MotoGP 14th on the timesheets, as he put his physical condition to the test for the first time since suffering chest and stomach injuries in last week’s motocross accident.
The Movistar Yamaha rider put in 15 laps during the morning session, when he was surprised by intense pain in his right arm. After treatment, Rossi delivered 19 laps in scorching hot conditions in the afternoon, lowering his lap time by half-a-second to finish 0.635s from pace setter Cal Crutchlow.
“Difficult day,” began Rossi, speaking in the team’s hospitality unit. “I have to struggle a little bit, because Mugello, with a MotoGP bike, with this temperature is already very difficult physically even if you are at 100%.
“This morning I suffer a lot, especially in acceleration, because I have pain in my right arm to stay on the bike. When I open the throttle and I had to hold onto the handlebar with all my strength, I had a lot, a lot of pain. Sincerely, I didn’t expect this. Was a surprise.
“But this afternoon, together with the guys of the Clinica Mobile, we work a lot on the arm, we take something, and in the afternoon, these things were better. So this is positive.
“Also in the afternoon I struggle with breathing, but usually Friday is the worst day. After that, your body adapts to the temperature, to the stress, and we hope that I can improve.”
Rossi confirmed he did not use painkillers in the morning, “but I had too much pain, so this afternoon I tried it, but it’s something very light, like normal. And I hope that it will be enough.”
Turning to technical matters, Rossi added: “We have to work on the balance of the bike, I’m not very happy. We have to find a way to make it a bit better. And also a lot of big question mark on the tyres, because different riders, different bikes can use different tyres, so the tyre choice will be important.
“We have to work, we have to try to improve, and we also hope that the situation of my physical condition will get better, and especially Sunday, because the race will be very hard.”
Rossi is third (-23 points) in the world championship after falling on the last lap at Le Mans. Team-mate and title leader Maverick Vinales was fifth quickest on Friday, walking away from a big accident in the afternoon.