Rossi's recovery is behind schedule

Valentino Rossi, welcomed like a messiah on his first official outing as a Ducati rider yesterday, disappointed his hordes of fans by saying he will not be 100 per cent fit for the start of the MotoGP season.

The Italian's arrival at his nation's top motorcycling team after years of anticipation was overshadowed by his failure to recover fully from a shoulder operation in November, following a broken leg suffered in a crash last June.

"I count on being in decent form for the first race of the season in Qatar on 20 March and then I'll be 100 per cent in April," Rossi said. "I hoped to feel better, there is a lot of work to do, but it's a great challenge to get in shape for the February tests."