MotoGP’s other long-time injured star is back better than ever


Franco Morbidelli being the fastest Yamaha rider on day one of the 2022 MotoGP season in Qatar was even bigger than it looked.

It’s not just Marc Marquez who has spent the winter in a big fitness battle with long-term implications for his career. Morbidelli, the 2020 Championship runner-up, is finally back to full fitness for the first time in almost a year just in time to kick off the new season.

It’s been a long time to return to the role for Morbidelli after he badly aggravated a lingering knee injury early last year.

The problem was first detected in 2015 when he broke his leg, but he managed to manage the complaint until he suffered further damage while training at the ranch of mentor Valentino Rossi’s flat track while preparing for last season.

Weakening the joint to the point that he fell dramatically in pit lane while attempting a flag-to-flag bike swap workout, he became severe to the point of requiring surgery – something which he suffered just after the Dutch TT last June.

The operation was originally supposed to sideline Morbidelli for a good part of the year. And if he returned to racing in less than three months, this time in factory colors following the departure of Maverick Vinales) for the last part of the 2021 season, it was not until the start of this year to finally find the physical shape he needs. to be competitive.

Although he was still not fully fit in last month’s final pre-season test in Indonesia, he admitted at the time that he was close and hoped by then he would be ready to go. time for Qatar – a situation which now seems to be the reality given their strong performance on the opening day.

“I would say the fitness is 100 per cent,” Morbidelli said after setting the fifth fastest time on Friday.

“After Mandalika I was missing something, cardio, but when I got home I was able to tackle it and recover.

“The knee healed that last bit which allowed me to not feel it while riding. I would say that being a runner, being an athlete, is 100%.


“We started well and I immediately felt the health improvements I expected. I feel good, and also with the package it feels like Mandalika.

“We started where we left off there, and it’s really good. There is room for improvement in some areas, but we can start well and that’s important.

Although Morbidelli’s recovery may have been a tough challenge at the time, he believes that doesn’t just mean he’s back healthy, but he actually took the positives from the experience. to become a better and more professional athlete.

“I think I’ll carry it with me forever,” he said of the injury, “just the way it affected me. How much it affected me and the way it changed my thoughts on the importance of your fitness and your body.

“I’ll take that with me forever, but on the track I hope I don’t feel it.

“I think it made me better as a professional. I valued my body quality, my body situation a lot more, and for sure the fact that it made me work so hard to catching up is something I will bring forever.

“Of course we will have to see it on the track, but I feel much fitter than last year, much better physically, and that will be reflected in my single lap and the whole 105km race.

“I’m pretty confident on that, that I won’t be so crooked in the race.”


His physical recovery isn’t the only thing he has to celebrate at Losail. Now sounding a lot like the racer who won three races in 2020 on a satellite bike, Morbidelli was quick to point out when asked by The Race that while everyone might have been surprised to see him and not his world champion teammate Fabio Quartararo as top Yamaha, Morbidelli himself was not at all surprised!

Part of that confidence comes from a valuable upgrade to Yamaha’s race package.

While Quartararo might not be happy with Yamaha’s top speed improvements – a key factor he’s spent most of the winter urging the factory to improve – Morbidellli says he has definitely noticed something different.

“I’m really happy with the top speed, because I was always last,” he said.

“I think every year I’ve done in MotoGP I was last in top speed. We were never lucky with top speed, but now I’m halfway through the pack, that which I’m really happy with.

“For sure we are missing something compared to the top guys, but I have to be happy personally.”


About Author

Comments are closed.