Valentino Rossi, the 31-year-old Italian many consider the greatest motorcycle racer in history, said Thursday that he's facing a "difficult" recovery after severely breaking his right leg but that "the worst is past."
Rossi suffered a compound fracture of the leg while practicing Saturday for the Italian Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit in central Italy, then had surgery in Florence to repair the damage. He was released from the hospital Thursday.
Known among his global following as "The Doctor" for the clinical way he's mastered racetracks over the years, Rossi has won the MotoGP world championship the last two years and a record seven times overall.
He's expected to be out at least several weeks if not the rest of the season, which means he likely would miss MotoGP's two U.S. stops, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey on July 25 and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 29.
"The positive thing is that the worst is past and that the two operations went well, so everything is OK," Rossi said in a question-and-answer statement from his Yamaha team that was posted on Autosport.com.
"Now I am expecting a difficult period, in which I have to be aware of the risk of infection and in which I must remain with the leg constantly elevated," he said. "Then there will come a second key period, when I will be able to start my rehabilitation and, with support on the leg, will be able to start to walk around with crutches."
Rossi also had been nursing an injured shoulder before the accident, and said both problems now would have time to heal properly.
"When I come back I will be in perfect shape," he said, but cautioned that "it won't mean that I can win straightaway. When you return after an enforced break you not only have to think about the body, but also the mind. I won't be able to come back and win immediately."
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi as he left a hospital in Florence, Italy, on Thursday after surgery to repair his broken right leg. Credit: Maurizio Degl'Innocenti / European Pressphoto Agency