Rossi vows to stay on two wheels

MotoGP King Valentino Rossi has vowed that he will continue racing motorcycles despite suffering the first serious injury of his career at the Italian Grand Prix in June. The nine-time World Champion suffered a compound fracture of his right tibia when he was flung from his Yamaha M1 at the 110mph Biondetti esses during practice.

"Do not worry, I'll come back soon," said the Italian from his hospital bed, quelling rumours of imminent retirement or a switch to four wheels. "I was afraid; now its a lot better."

The surgeon who pinned the break predicted that Rossi will need six weeks of partial weight-bearing on crutches before he is able to ride again. There is no firm date for his return, but it is highly unlikely that he will be able to race before the Indianapolis MotoGP round on August 29. With his bid for a 10th world title well and truly over, some advisers have suggested he would be better delaying his return until 2011.

Incredibly for a spot notorious for inflicting grievous injuries this is the first time in his 15-year Grand Prix career that Rossi has been sidelined by injury. He has suffered broken bones before but has always been able to grit his teeth and get back on the bike.

Rossi's absence is a huge concern for MotoGP as a whole because his pop-star profile has played such a vital part in building the sport's audience. MotoGP rights holder Dorna got a glimpse of what a future without Rossi might hold when thousands of fans left Mugello as soon as it became clear that their hero would take no further part in proceedings.

Of course, despite Rossi's insistence that he will stay on two wheels, Luca di Montezemolo's long-standing invitation for him to join Ferrari in F1 must seem more tempting than ever...