The Yamaha team says it feels "deflated" after Valentino Rossi's practice crash at Mugello effectively ended the title battle that had been developing between its two factory riders.
Rossi and teammate Jorge Lorenzo have won every race so far this season and pulled clear of the competition in the riders' standings – with Lorenzo currently heading Rossi by nine points, but the next rider - Honda's Andrea Dovizioso – already a full 28 points off the lead. However, Rossi is now set to miss several races having sustained an open fracture to his right tibia when he had a high-side in Mugello practice today. He has undergone surgery and is expected to be on crutches for approximately six weeks.
Yamaha's motorsport boss Lin Jarvis said it had been an extremely tough day for the team – particularly as it had happened at Rossi's home track, where he took seven straight Italian Grand Prix wins between 2002 and 2008.
"It was a very sad day today for Yamaha and the Fiat Yamaha team, seeing Vale in so much pain and seriously injured for the first time in his career," Jarvis said. "It is especially tough for Vale to have this accident at his home grand prix and this will surely be a huge disappointment for him and for all his fans here at the Mugello circuit and around the world.
"As a team we are very deflated right now because we had our two riders challenging for the championship lead and now that challenge is over – at least for the immediate future. We wish Vale the very best for a speedy recovery and hope to have him back with us as soon as possible."
Jarvis confirmed earlier today that Yamaha would continue to run two works bikes in Rossi's absence, but has not yet given any hints of who it is considering as his stand-in, though speculation has focused on his former teammate Colin Edwards, now with the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha squad.