Valentino Rossi's cheek muscles, after only being used to genuinely smile about four times in the last two years, must be getting slightly sore. Judging from the photographs Rossi has smiled more today at Valencia than he has in a long time.
Rossi will test the Yamaha M1 tomorrow at Valencia, at the end of season MotoGP test.
Rossi returns to Yamaha older and a bit beat up. The damaged shoulder and broken leg he suffered in his last years on the Yamaha are now probably only considered on cold mornings. There are much more painful pangs and larger issues now. He's basically been dragged on the floor during a two year long bar fight, his confidence can only be described as battered and his skill set long unchallenged. The rider who was his "little brother" in the paddock is dead. His detractors will never let Rossi forget he was unable to do what Casey Stoner did on the Ducati.
On the upside, he is still Valentino Rossi, arguably the best motorcycle racer in history. Resilient, talented and charismatic, if Rossi is ninety-percent as capable as he was when he left Yamaha he should be in decent shape on his return.
For Valentino Rossi, the rest of his life starts tomorrow.