MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN. 9 – It’s on.
Wrooom 2012, the annual winter ski holiday/Ducati & Ferrari Marlboro team intros, kicked off tonight under the wood-beamed ceiling of the Salon Hofer at the Hotel des Alpes in the picturesque Alpine village of Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, and Ducati’s Valentino Rossi lined up on stage to be introduced to the attending media at the start of a week where something felt like it was missing. It was.
The 2012 Ducati Desmosedici GP12 was nowhere to be seen just weeks before the first test of the season in Sepang, Malaysia. The newest race bike is traditionally unveiled at Wrooom, often accompanied by mystifying entertainment; new age music and modern dancers. Last year the unveiling was done without the horde of photographers in attendance in a remote location. A year earlier, the new model was revealed with an igloo of red and white helium balloons were lifted to reveal riders Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner, and the bike.
No official reason was given for the absence of the motorcycle with the perimeter frame, though one informed observer believed it had to do with the graphics package not being settled.
Rossi (seen above with Ducati CEO Gabriele del Torchio), and Hayden will kick off their obligations by holding separate press conferences on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Ducati’s technical wizard Filippo Preziosi will brief the media, prior to a similar session being held by Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali. And on Thursday ,Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa meet the press.
The highlight for many in attendance is the ice racing on Friday night that pits the motorcycle riders against the car guys. Nicky Hayden won the go-kart race two years ago and finished third last year behind Massa and Alonso. He also finished second to Massa in the Fiat 500 race on the ice.
Hayden won’t be taking part as he continues to recover from a separated scapula suffered in a riding accident during the break between Christmas and New Year’s. With the Sepang test just over three weeks away, Hayden won’t jeopardize suffering a setback by reaggravating the recovery. Hayden stayed longer at the opening night party than any of his peers, graciously posing for photos and signing autographs while sampling the local cuisine. He said he expects to make a decision on whether he can test in Sepang a week from Thursday, February 19. But even that might not be definitive. Any positive signs and he’ll be on a plane for Malaysia to share the testing burden with Rossi.