Valentino Rossi will be Ducati’s sole factory rider in the Czech Republic Grand Prix this weekend after Nicky Hayden was ruled out following the injuries sustained at Indianapolis. The American crashed heavily in qualifying, fracturing two fingers in his right hand and suffering a concussion, and feels this is the wisest decision to ensure he’s ready for Misano in three weeks.

“It’s tough to miss another race. I don’t have big problems, but my hand is still very swollen and I don’t have much strength, and of course right-hand injuries are worse for motorcycle racers. I would have been at far less than 100 per cent, and if I used too much force or crashed again, I could displace the breaks and possibly be in big trouble. Obviously, the head is even more important, and with the amount of time I was unconscious, I’m still dealing with a headache. The main thing is all the doctors told me racing was a really bad idea and not smart, and everybody on my team agreed. As much as the racer in me doesn’t like staying at home and missing track time and points, I need to listen to the experts and try to heal up and get ready for Misano. That’s an important race for me and for Ducati, and I’ll be doing all the rehab to come back as fit as possible. I don’t like it, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Although he steered clear of injuries, Rossi endured a torrid time himself in the United States with a crash at Laguna Seca followed by seventh at Indy, a minute behind the winner, and the Italian is pleased to be back in Europe.

“Laguna and Indy were two very difficult races, so I’m happy that we race again in just a few days, at Brno. The next two weeks will be very important for the rest of the season. I expect to do better in the Czech Republic, as it’s a track that I like and that is more ‘normal.’ I had a pretty good dry race there last year with Ducati, also in terms of the gap to the front. Then next week we’ll have two days of testing at Misano, where we’ll have some new things to try that I hope will help us to be faster in the last part of the season.”