Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were introduced to their fans in the company's hometown at Ducati MotoGP Night, a gala event in Bologna's Piazza Maggiore on Friday night.Ducatisti came from all over Italy and beyond to cheer on the 2011 Ducati Marlboro MotoGP teammates, who rode their Desmosedici GP11s onto the stage on a frigid night. Ducati estimaed that 38,000 fans showed up, while ANSA, the official Italian news agency, put the number at 20,000.

Prior to the party, the riders toured the Borgo Panigale factory and museum, meeting employees and posing for photos."It's really nice to be here," Rossi said. "We'll do everything we can to finish at the front and do a good job. Thanks for the great support; the bikes that you make here are beautiful. Please keep doing a good job, and we'll try to do the same on the track." Added Hayden, "It's really special to be here. I've worked for other companies, but Ducati is unique; the bike is special, and the people who work here are special. Now let's hope we can give you the results that you all deserve."

The festivities were kicked off by Radio DEEJAY, the event's official media partner, followed by performances by a cast of artists who are also Ducati enthusiasts. Italian television personalities Valerio Staffelli and Maddalena Corvaglia were the announcers for the show, who had the honor of introducing the riders late in the evening.It was 9:45 p.m. when the unmistakable sound of the Desmosedici GP11's desmodromic engine made it clear that the high point of the evening was fast approaching. That's when first Rossi, then Hayden rode onto the stage, which was lined with the key members of the Ducati Corse MotoGP team.

"This has been a truly fantastic day," Gabriele Del Torchio, Ducati Motor Holding President, said at the end of the evening. "The packed square that we've seen tonight speaks for itself. The city has responded enthusiastically, and many, many Ducatisti have come from all over Italy to help us celebrate Nicky, Vale, and the start of the 2011 MotoGP season."You can watch the festivities on YouTube by clicking on the following links: Video 1, Video 2

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By Cycle News Staff

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