Valentino Rossi is considering skipping the final two races of the 2010 season to have surgery on the shoulder injury that has hampered his performances for much of the year.
Although Rossi's broken leg - which ruled him out of four grands prix - has not caused him significant problems since his return, the shoulder he damaged in a Motocross crash in April continues to be an issue. The Italian said shoulder discomfort was the main reason for his disappointing sixth place in today's Aragon Grand Prix.
Rossi said he would not make any decisions about surgery until after the next three races, but was open-minded about whether he would then miss the remaining rounds at Estoril and Valencia to have the required operation.
"I think we have to try to race at the next three races," Rossi told reporters. "Unfortunately we have Motegi in front, which is the worst track for the shoulder.
"But after we have Australia and Sepang where we have to try to race, especially because I rode in Sepang with the same bike when I was fit, so it's interesting to understand [the effect of the injury], and after Australia and Sepang we will find a decision.
"At this moment, we have just decided to go to the next three races, and after we will decide about the last two."
He said Yamaha's lack of competitiveness at Aragon had also been a factor in his poor form this weekend, with Rossi's championship-leading team-mate Jorge Lorenzo missing the podium for the first time all year as he finished fourth.
But the champion emphasised that the condition of his shoulder was now forcing set-up compromises.
"At this track, everybody had some problems with the M1, Jorge also," Rossi said. "But for me, it's is a big problem because I cannot ride like I want, and we make the setting more so I have less pain than for the best performance."
He underlined that contesting the Japanese, Malaysian and Australian races would not make his shoulder worse - "it doesn't damage when I ride the bike, it remains constant" - and suggested that Aragon had been a particularly extreme example of his problems.
"At Misano, I was fast, and it was not so bad," said Rossi. "And I am sure that our M1 will be more competitive in the next two races."