MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 13 –
The much anticipated showdown between World Champions Valentino Rossi and Fernando Alonso won't happen as expected at Wrooom 2011, the annual F1 and MotoGP press and ski meeting high in the Italian Dolomites, but there could be a surprise before the end of the year.That was the word from Alonso, the Ferrari driver whose earlier opinion of Rossi seems to have considerably softened. Back in 2006, Alonso was dismissive of Rossi after the then Yamaha rider had an impressive test in a Ferrari F1 car. Rossi's response was that they should face off in a multi-discipline competition that would include MotoGP bikes, Formula One cars, and World Rally cars.The hope was that they would clash in the Friday night car and go-kart races on the frozen lake in the center of Madonna di Campiglio, but Rossi's still recovering shoulder won't allow it.The pair chatted amiably when Rossi arrived at Monday's opening night party for Wrooom, disappointing those who expected daggers. And if that didn't convince the skeptical, Alonso squashed any thoughts of ill will at his Thursday morning press conference. Alonso said he'd known Rossi for some time and had gotten to know him better when Rossi visited Ferrari's Maranello headquarters in the middle of last season."I think he's a nice youngster, an excellent youngster," the Spaniard said in fluent English of the older Rossi; Alonso is 29, Rossi soon to be 31. "As a rider who's won nine World Championship, there's not much I can add. He's the best bike rider in history. He's the best there's maybe going to be."Spaniard Alonso and teammate Felipe Massa of Brazil have worldwide followings, but Alonso said Rossi's popularity is transcendent."Valentino is loved all over the world, which is something very special; like another title." Alonso said. "The passion for Valentino throughout the world is like no other."The subject of the race came up early this week, causing both to laugh, but also causing Alonso to drop a hint that it might happen, likely after the conclusion of both of their seasons."I can't say 100 percent, but by the end of the season, by December, it's possible, maybe we have a surprise," he hinted. "It may be two wheels, four wheels, six wheels. I'm not going to say when it will take place."