Valentino Rossi: Who Will Rule Ducati?

Henny Ray Abrams | October 31, 2012

When Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi sat down to talk with the Italian media following yet another disappointing result in the Australian Grand Prix, there was no talk of the race. Instead he spoke about the future of Ducati without him and his own future at Yamaha.

What the Italian media wanted to know was who would be fastest on the Ducati? The candidates are current rider Nicky Hayden, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, and Yamaha’s Ben Spies. Spies was immediately ruled out of the discussion because of his injury. The Texan will miss not only the post-Valencia test, but also a three-day Ducati test at the end of November.

“We have to wait until next year,” Rossi said of Spies.

And most likely he’ll miss the first test in Sepang in early February.

“First is interesting to understand Dovi and Iannone compared to Hayden,” Rossi said of the 2006 World Champion who will be in his fifth year with Ducati. “And also will be interesting to understand between Dovi and Iannone, because Dovi have more experience on the MotoGP, but on the other hand, Iannone have no experience on MotoGP but never ride Honda and Yamaha. Maybe can be a small advantage. I don’t know. I’m not sure of this, but can be different.”

Rossi said that Iannone’s lack of experience on Japanese MotoGP machines may work in his favor, “because for sure the Japanese bike are different to ride and Iannone coming from Moto2 never ride the Japanese bikes, so his mind is open, empty. So will be interesting.”

Turning to Rossi, one journalist wanted to know who would be more of a challenge to their new teammate, Rossi to Lorenzo or Moto2 World Champion Marc Marquez to Dani Pedrosa?

“You know, we are number two and usually the number one is in more difficult position, because the number one, in this case Lorenzo and Pedrosa, was like with me and Lorenzo in 2008 and 2009,” Rossi said. “If you arrive in front, okay, is normal, if you arrive behind, have some problems.”

When he announced his move back to Yamaha at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, Rossi said he wasn’t sure how he’d go on the Yamaha. Now that Lorenzo has spent two years tailoring the YZR-M1 to his style, can Rossi affect the development?

“I mean, I think I can give to Yamaha a very important support for improve the bike, this is I’m sure 100 percent,” he said. “Because between me and Yamaha was the perfect match in the way to work and improve the bike.”

Mostly Rossi was interested in his return to Yamaha, “and I think that after the first test we can understand in a better way my potential for next year. I want to try the bike after two difficult seasons and I think go anyway at the top level like [Jorge] Lorenzo, like [Dani] Pedrosa, and [Casey] Stoner.”

“I’m not sure if I’m able to stay at the same level of Lorenzo and Pedrosa and fight for win races and for win championships. Sincerely, I don’t know, so I have to try the bike before, but we have two years and if we want to try is the test in Valencia will be very important for understand. But after we have to work, my team has to give the maximum, Jeremy [Burgess] has to give the maximum, everybody has to give 100 percent for improve, for fix the problem, improve our level and try to fight especially with the same bike and with Lorenzo that now is the World Champion.”



Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.