Fiat Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi put his final race of the season in doubt today, after fracturing three bones in his right hand during a crash in qualifying in Valencia. Team-mate Colin Edwards meanwhile had a difficult session, failing to make much progress with the grip issues which troubled him yesterday and qualifying in 15th place.
Rossi's injuries were sustained when he crashed after exiting from turn one, just ten minutes into the session. He was taken to the Mobile Clinic and x-rays revealed fractures to the base of his little finger and to the ulnar styloid and pyramidal bones in his right hand. He also sustained bruising to the base of his spine but x-rays revealed there was no serious damage. The Italian, who has never missed a race in his eleven-year career, will be keen to ride tomorrow, as he needs just one point to seal the runner-up spot from Dani Pedrosa. A final decision will not be taken until tomorrow morning however, after his condition has been reassessed by both Dr. Costa and by the Spanish doctors. If he is able to race he will start from 17th on the grid tomorrow.
Edwards, who finished this morning's session ninth, tried further set-up changes in a bid to improve his pace this afternoon but was unable to make any significant progress on race tires. He used a different profile front-tire in an effort to improve his pace with qualifying tyres but was unable to challenge for the top spots. 15th will see him start from the outside of the fifth row tomorrow, while Dani Pedrosa will start from pole.
Colin Edwards, Position: 15th Time: 1'33.021 Laps: 28, "We tried a different profile front tire with our qualifying tires this afternoon, similar to what we used in Le Mans and Donington when I was on pole, but I just didn't really have enough time to get used to it. Some of the lines were a bit different and I couldn't quite find the key in the few laps available; I just wasn't able to make the most of it, which is a pity. On race tires we're still having some problems and I'm disappointed to be starting my last race with the Factory Team from fifteenth. I'm determined not to end it there though so I'm going to be going for all or nothing tomorrow. We'll have a look at the data tonight and do our best to find something radical to help me go out there and fight my way through."
Valentino Rossi Position: 17th Time: 1'33.290 Laps: 5, "So, I'm okay, but I was better before the crash! I was going quite well and able to do 33.3 quite easily, but then at a certain point, when I was accelerating, I lost the rear. I tried to get the bike back but it was too late. After the crash I immediately realized that my hand was broken but I didn't know how bad it was. I hit my lower back quite hard as well and actually it hurts quite a lot, but luckily there is no bad damage there. Tomorrow morning I will see how I am and then I will take a decision after further consideration with Claudio (Dr. Costa) and also with the Spanish doctors. I have never missed a race in my career and I really don't want to do it tomorrow. I remember last year in Assen the pain was more or less the same, but then I was challenging for the championship. Tomorrow I am challenging for second place; it's not quite the same but anyway of course I will would like to be there."