Valentino Rossi has COVID-19

Here’s a 2020 twist that we didn’t see coming: Valentino Rossi, probably the most popular racer in MotoGP, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Rossi’s diagnosis comes after one of the Yamaha factory racing team’s engineers also tested positive a little over a week ago. Six of Yamaha’s engineers had to sit out the last MotoGP round, thanks to the series’ bubble structure.

On social media, Rossi said he’s been self-isolating since the Le Mans race, and woke up mid-week with aches and a fever. He tested negative for COVID-19 initially, but then tested positive.

He’s obviously going to miss the first Aragon race this weekend, and there’s a good chance he’ll miss the next one too. The Yamaha factory team’s management says they aren’t replacing Rossi for the first race, at least.

Rossi’s already having a bad year; he’s currently languishing in 13th in the standings, after crashing out of the first lap of the Le Mans race. He’s moving from the factory Yamaha team to the satellite Petronas team for 2021, which isn’t exactly an upgrade. However, he’s still racing for the love of it, and who knows? Maybe, just like Donald Trump, he’ll come back from COVID treatment saying he feels the best he has in years … or maybe not.

Either way, this is a major blow for MotoGP. The series has been working hard to keep the coronavirus pandemic at bay, and until recently, most of its measures had worked, at least for the premier class (Jorge Martin in Moto2 was probably the most high-profile case in the roadracing world, until now). Now, other riders and teams will no doubt be wondering if they’ll be the next to contract the disease.

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