One More Week: Ducati Awaiting Rossi Decision On Future

Just seven more days, and the biggest open piece of MotoGP's puzzle should be slotted into place. On Saturday night, Valentino Rossi met with Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio, to discuss the details of the offer Ducati have for Rossi, and this morning, Del Torchio told French journalist Michel Turco that he expected to know Rossi's answer within the next seven days. The money from Ducati is generous, some 17 million euros a season, if the rumors are to be believed, but the money will not be the important part of the deal. The biggest item will be what help Ducati will get from Audi, and whether the rate of progress at Borgo Panigale can be ramped up to start rolling out updates faster, and start to change some of the things which Rossi and Burgess believe are vital before the bike can even begin to become competitive.

Ducati is not Rossi's only option, of course. The second seat at the Factory Yamaha team awaits - and did that seat being held open for Rossi prompt Ben Spies to leave, or was the Texan's mind already made up, after a bellyful of MotoGP politics? - though that ride is not so richly rewarded, financially at least. The offer from Yamaha is rumored to be around the 3-4 million euro mark, a pay cut Rossi may be willing to take if it leaves him capable of winning and challenging for championships again. But here, too, conditions will be key: Rossi will return as the number 2 rider, Lorenzo already having clinched a two-year deal with the factory, and Yamaha having made it clear to Rossi that they saw Lorenzo as the future back in 2010, which caused Rossi to up sticks and go to Ducati. Even worse, though, Rossi may have to return alone; his crew will not automatically be rehired by Yamaha, the cost of flying them around the world being a major cost factor in the equation. What's more, Rossi will have to bring sponsorship to the table, much more than just the amount needed to cover his salary. 

Rossi has to weigh the prospect of winning immediately against the hope of turning around the situation at Ducati and cementing his status as a bike developer in history. Walking away from Ducati would be the first time he ever backed down from a challenge, but his experience of Ducati has been mostly of waiting in vain for updates that haven't come, and receiving updates that have not answered his most basic demands. Financial backing from Audi should allow Ducati Corse to expand its engineering department to ramp up production, but the question remains of whether the problem is purely financial or more an ingrained part of the culture inside Ducati Corse. Rossi's choice is clear: is it better to serve in heaven or to reign in hell?

Once Rossi's decision is made, the next pieces can start to drop into place. If Rossi stays at Ducati, the question will be whether Cal Crutchlow or Andrea Dovizioso gets the second seat at Yamaha - or whether Yamaha chooses to draft in a young rider from Moto2, to learn alongside Jorge Lorenzo. If Rossi goes to Yamaha, Crutchlow and Dovizioso will vy for the second seat at Ducati, alongside Nicky Hayden. With Ducati set to run a junior team in MotoGP in 2013 - though which team will run it, is yet to be determined - the chances of a young rider taking a seat in the factory team look fairly slim. Instead, the junior team will consist of prospects such as Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Iannone or Scott Redding, all of whom are set to test a Ducati at Mugello next week.

The uncertainty over the future of Valentino Rossi - and many others in MotoGP - is nearly at an end. Another week or so, and the waiting is over.

~~~ Updated ~~~

When asked by reporters if it was true that he had been offered 17 million euros to stay with Ducati last year, he denied it. "This is important to say, this is completely not true. My offer for next year is less money than the offer for the past two years. I think this is right, because the economic situation of the world is difficult, and I arrive from a bad season with worse results. So it's normal that I take less money than this year." He also weighed up the different options, saying that he has to consider the chance of winning again quickly with the greater and more interesting challenge of winning with the Ducati is greater, but it would take more time. Winning with three different brands was something special, he told reporters. He had to decide between these two options, he said, rejecting the third option, a factory bike in a satellite team with Honda.

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Staying at Ducati will only show results when Ducati improves, Rossi being there is essentially meaningless. He will podium/win if/when it's a good bike, simple as that. He should go to Yamaha and test himself against the best (Lorenzo).

David, you never mentioned the possibility of Rossi being on a Honda. Still Possible?
I just hope Rossi leaves Ducati - they have had more than enough time to give him a competitive bike and have failed miserably.
Please Rossi, just leave, anywhere else has to be an improvement!

and watching Hayden in the race.....Ducati relying on Rossi to give direction in bike development could be likened to a pregnant schoolgirl rubbing her stomach with vanishing cream.

€ 17m !!?? Jeez, take a 50% pay cut, so there is a development budget. I'm no Ducati fan, especially after the way they treated CS, but this whole fiasco is like a soap opera. It's like the Japs trying to develop their bikes with a test rider that is 2-3 seconds off the pace, " but we didn't have chatter problems before, Stoner San. "

This overall sorry state of affairs is another " benefit " of the cost cutting restricting the amount of the actual racers testing as and when required. Thank you Dorna....

Honda should stump up some big cash to employ Stoner as their test rider.

No MotoGP crap for Stoner to deal with, and he can ride the bikes just for fun, but provide Honda with some seriously useful development feedback.

Maybe Rossi has just been slow to 'get it'.

When you're contracted to Ducati, you just ride the fucking thing as hard as you can and CREATE a result, not simply hope and pray that good fortune and fate will align and deliver the results you believe you deserve.

Perhaps Stoner figured this out very early in the piece and simply went out to actually earn the money Ducati paid him to ride their bike around.. then once presented with an opportunity to get out, took it.

It's looking like Vale may do the same thing, but without any results to show for it.

It's a real shame. I hoped for far more when he signed with the Bologna squad. He simply hasn't delivered.

He's turned that bike inside out with demand after demand for new frames, new engines, endless tweaks ... and for what? A complete loss of focus for the team and a couple of wet-weather podiums. I do hope Rossi stays with Ducati and they finally get some value out of him, but if he departs it won't be a great loss for Borgo Panigale. All they have done so far is hand out stonking wads of cash to him for nothing - having let go of a rider, Stoner, who was producing results for them right up to the end.

The only thing that they haven't given Rossi is an engine with less power! The engine he was supposed to get in Laguna wasn't brought. I read it was only 20% of the new engine. From what I understand is that everyone has ask was for a less peaky engine. When he went to Yamaha he was asked to try two engines. He chose the less peaky but smother one. That is what Yamaha still use today. Lorenzo always says they are down on power to Honda but still winning races. I would love to hear from Burgess if Rossi leaves Ducati on what is really happening behind-the-scenes.

You may be right that Rossi has asked for changes, but it hasn't "turned the bike inside out". The factory team is running the same frame and engine package they had for the pre-season tests in Sepang. Ducati were supposed to have delivered updates by now, but there has been little to nothing so far.

So yes, he's continually asking for changes, but Ducati hasn't delivered.

I think there's plenty of blame to go around.

Ducati HAVE made a wide variety of changes, all at Rossi's request, but don't have much/anything to show for the effort. I get the impression that they feel they've been lead on a Wild Goose Chase. They seem increasingly hesitant to blindly run out and fetch the latest tweak that VR/JB demand. Rossi's sulking, public demands, and his throwing of the team under the Media Bus (combined with Nicky generally kicking his ass) aren't exactly helping the Dream Team's marriage .

At the same time, the chassis is still borked, and the undersized engine must feel like a turbocharged two stroke compared to the Yamaha. These issues do seem legit, but Duc doesn't seem in any particular hurry to remedy them. There may well be a fair sized gulf between what was promised and what has been delivered.

I think both sides look at the other and think nasty thoughts of 'broken promises' and 'lack of commitment.'

Just curious about the extra expense of flying Rossi's peeps around. It's been mentioned in several articles I've read. Why is his bunch more expensive than the other riders? Does he just have more people? Every rider has techs, etc. don't they?

Bummer for Spies, glad to see Nicky in for another year. See ya'll at Indy!

I see the crew issue as Yamaha's way of saying, "OK, Uncle Ezzy twisted our arm, here's your *bleeping* offer."
In other words, they don't much want him back, and are doing the absolute minimum that the political situation demands.

I want to read Rossi's auto biography and also Stoner's and others to get a complete picture of what ducati is really like. I think it will be an eye opener and one where the ducatisti will be left rocked by it. See I'm already hyping it...

This isnt a reflection on Rossi, but Ducati isn't going to change its way of doing things regardless of ownership changes. Scott Russell did the commentary in the US and it was an eye opener versus the pablum i usually hear. His comment was that rossi ws riding the same exact frame as when the season started. That honda or yamaha would have had 3 or 4 frames to try, that changes would come in days to weeks, and not weeks t months. and rossi probably assumed being close to ducati's factories would make things move faster since they wouldnt have to go through layers of buracracy.
My feeling is Ducati's engineering staff has had too much ego invested in the bike and they weren't going to change anything until they had no choice. 2011 was a total wash, and 2012 is simply slow movement

its a 5th or 6th place bike at best, regardless of who is on it. And they didnt get rid of stoner, he got a much better offer with a team that knows it has to make major changes to win--and does. I wish at least we could put that canard to rest.

I'm not convinced it costs more to design a product that works than it does one that doesn't, perfecting it sure but they Haven't got a basic package with a decent front end yet. I was literally shocked the other week to see that the dukes layout was road bikeish, and the mass centralisation the honda and yam go on about has only just been looked at.. Crazy.... It's a case of intellectual property. The person designing the frame isn't deliberately getting it wrong. However I would question whether keeping the same team for last 5 years of failure is wise. Don't see anything changing at Ducati, it's easier to be different than competitive. Must be heartbreaking for rossi to consider leaving when both he and his team know exactly what Ducati need. Offering a lot of money when all he needed was a few parts says it all. They've had every chance to keep him. The sat(factory) Honda seat still isn't confirmed. With the petulant demands of Yamaha I suspect the Honda is a better bet than expected. Yam just seems to obvious for a rider that likes to surprised. Monster Honda with a large repsol sticker across the bottom??? Shuhei gas shown a lot more character and respect for a rider who I reckon is still one of the top 4, comfortably.

Given that absolute rigidity is not optimal for motorcycles (that was established in the late 1980s/early 1990s from memory), some degree of controlled flex is desirable so as to provide feel to the rider.

I'm not sure how using the engine as a stressed member (in lieu of a frame) was ever going to work given that the engine - which has to be stiff - takes up so much of the bike's wheelbase. Your options for engineering flex are so much more limited, given that the places where you can create such flex are in places other than where the engine is - and that might be exactly where flex isn't wanted.

Then, when you consider the environment that GP bikes have to operate in (different track layouts requiring different set-ups, and no doubt, subtle changes in weight distribution), your ability to effect such changes relatively easily and promptly compared to a frame which can be readily revised without amending an engine's mounting points, is - to put in bluntly - impaired.

I know Ducati pride themselves on being different, but I feel that going with this concept put them at a competitive disadvantage from the start.

Mind you, I'm no engineer, so I might be talking utter bollocks....

The fact that the fastest pole at Laguna prior to this weekend was set by Stoner in 2008 (albeit on qualies) on the Duck that noone else seems to be able to ride fast. It must have irked some that it was there to remind all that it once was a very fast bike..

But also note that 2008 was the last year of tyre competition and that Stoner's pole position was set on qualifying tyres specifically designed to work with the Ducati.

And also of course, that it was an 800cc not 1000cc and a steel trellis frame, not carbon fibre or ally beam. Meanwhile Rossi's 2nd on the Yamaha was a 1'21.147 then which was beaten by both Spies and Lorenzo this year, but not by Cal or Dovi. Hayden's 1'21.734 this year was not as good as his 1'21.430 on the Honda in 08.

Perhaps even more interesting from 2008 is Marco Melandri (Spies 2013 team mate?) on the Ducati in 15th on a 1'22.957.

So yes, Ducati have produced race winning bikes in several championships before and perhaps they will again. But while that bike in 2008 was very fast with Stoner riding, it was also unrideable by an ex-250 world champion who'd come 2nd in MotoGP on a Honda. And it was very definitely not the bike they have now on tyres designed specifically for it.

I reckon Dorna will try and get Rossi to move out of Ducati. A JL/VR combo back at Yamaha is only going to be good for television and if VR gets his mojo back, the battles will help a lot of people - me, in particular - try and ignore the pain of not being able to see Stoner.

at Audi that will determine what happens. I cannot imagine what Rossi and Burgess have said to them (if they are, as reported, up close, watching and listening) but I can imagine that even if no names are mentioned (difficult to believe) the only conclusion that anyone can come to is that the engineering team (as in R&D, design, production, and testing) needs new leadership.
Neither Rossi or Burgess have the time to waste talking when what they need are people listening and doing (as in interpreting their 'feedback' and designing/providing quickly a la UJM accordingly).
One thing VAG isn't is daft and they have shown that they can turn around some pretty dire Italian management teams without losing the brand plot. I think they (and close family Porsche) have shown they can come up with some effective and reliable race machine designs too.
If they have been watching and listening (and this would have started as part of their due diligence on Ducati so they are many months into this process). They would have to be daft (see above) not to realise that anyone senior in Ducati saying "It's fine we just need your money"is dumb enough to be put in charge of parking or something equally intellectually less challenging.
Rossi has to decide if the 'dream' was just a nightmare or if he really wants to finance Yamaha's MGP team as No.2.
Of course, if Audi don't have the nous to see a great challenge and marketing opportunity when they see it(nothing is without risk)it would make you wonder why they bought them in the first place.... and it's not part of the ECB plan to prop up the Italian economy.
If Rossi goes to Yamaha the implications are far greater than MGP because without a credible MGP plan and lots of questions over the Panigale as a race/championship winner the brand is on a slippery slope. Which would be daft.

Indeed, the management of the front brake lever, which is clearly sadly lacking.

But this bloke should most definitely be offered another chance in MotoGP - if only to underline the fact that they are indeed Grand P R I C K S (ask Peter Clifford)...

I am already looking forward to the 2013 Superbike World Championship season.

Too Bad Spies clipped the inside edge of the ripple strip in the Corkscrew, but as the soon he is out of this farce of a racing series, the better. Was his head OKAY? Big hit on that in qualifying, but no doubt Lin Jarvis does not care a jot.

Stoner, once again, rode around serious chassis problems, and after deciding to ignore Bridgestone, won the race. But he is still 32 points behind Jorge.

If Stoner wins this championship, it will be a triumph over commercial interests.

Let us hope he succeeds - with no disrespect to Lorenzo, who is indeed looking like a reincarnation of Eddie Lawson with every passing race.

The CEO of VW and Audi have been motorcycle enthusiast for years.Roughly 2 years ago the VW/AUDI group bought the rights to HOREX , a high performance brand from back in the 40s-50s. The motorcycle is a Supercharged narrow angle(15 degree) V-6 that reported to make 240 hp and 175 ft pounds torque at the crank.The engine is designed after Volkswagons VR12. AUDI actually had made a 1000cc bike in the late 70s to challenge there arch rival BMW, but dropped the project when BMW decided not to make a multi cylinder sportbike .
Audi is also reported to be planning to make a Motorcycle of ther oiwn. NOT a Ducati NOT a Horex , but a Superbike or scooter thats designed and produced by AUDI and using the AUDI name on the tank.
Audi and BMW have been arch rivals for decades and seeing BMWs expansion the huge sucess of there motorcycle line and sporting image. Audi entrance into motrocycles isnt a whim or tax haven but looked at as a valueable sales tool that increases profits

How does this relate to Rossis MotoGP ride in 2013? Audi is no stranger to racing and has the funds to have the 2-3 frames ect for Rossi to choose from and with F1 experiance Audi will not tolerate huge egos that hold onto ideas that just dont work .(ie Carbon fiber swing arm = 2 yrs to work) Rossi should at LEAST try 1 year with Audi . There is a potencial to make Audi/Ducati not only a winning team but a dominant team in motoGP.

BTW no im not a Fanantical Ducati fan with rose colored glasses.
I see potencial for Rossi at Audi and at Yamaha realisitically he will end up being a supoort rider for Jorge Lorenzo.

Sorry for spelling I was watching ama race on speed network

as the saying goes. Nothing is perfect and I don't suppose that Ducati/Yamonda or any other manufacturer can offer the perfect package. Equally, a braking error doesn't make either Stoner or Rossi any less good than they were before either.
One thing is clear - Audi can put Rossi in a team with the resources and the manufacturing/development capacity that no other MGP team could afford. If they wish to. Honda/Yamaha may have many years on most teams but as BMW have shown (finally) it's a team game and you can buy a lot of that experience. Ducati has the experience of both WSB and MGP - they are not new kids on the block when it comes to race craft etc. Audi are one of the few firms that could put R&D into 'warp drive'.
A pragmatic Rossi (not one who has just had a 125mph 'ish get off from a bike with understeer on a track that is narrow, scary-fast with 250bhp, and no straight to speak of anywhere) might just be able to balance the loss of a year (some progress has been made - all this hasn't been for absolutely nothing)against the resources, experience, his team, his nation, that staying put would mean. Or, he could be No.2 at Yamaha, at best, and (kind of) pay for it. This isn't about money, but pride counts too. Pride can keep you going when the going gets tough. It stops you walking away. I'm not a major Rossi fan but I do think he's the best entertainment available. I hope he stays put and finishes what he started. That wouldn't be a footnote or background story. It would be worth 3 chapters.
Whatever he decides, lots of people will be surprised.

Stoner QP in 2010 was 1'21.169. Bike: Ducati. Frame: carbon

Rossi QP in 2012 was 1'22.544. Bike: Ducati. Frame aluminium turkey frame

This post is in reply to someone above who compared Stoners times in 2008 where he used qualifying tyres and contributed the differences in time to the qualifying tyres.

HINT: no qualifying tyres in 2010 for Stoner. 1'21 is still faster than 1'22 last time I looked.

Ducati has gone backwards since 2010 in case some have missed that and it ain't the darn CARBON FRAME as the cause. It's something on top of the seat. Face facts and deal with it.

Hayden soldiers on no matter whether carbon, steel or aluminum. He just deals with what he's given and does the best he can all the time.

4th in the championship, 225 points, 4 poles, 3 wins, 9 podiums.
And this was referred as a bad season for Ducati back then.

Great for a duke not so good for a factory no1 rider. If dani had two fourths on the Honda he'd have got the sack. Caseys best on the duke in the last 3 years on it whilst better than rossis by some way is nowhere good enough to justify not changing the bike. Casey went backwards every season which means by now he'd have dropped back even further. Instead he used his head and showed the world just how crap the duke was in comparison to the only thing that matters. The competition. Ducati have got away to long with comparisons only to their other bikes. They aren't the competition.... Neither is the britten prezzy??

How can you compare Hayden to a 9 time WC? he soldiers on because if he makes his displeasure known in public about the shatty duck he is given, then he will get the boot faster than you can raise an eyebrow.His record is mediocre at best and its in his interest to keep his mouth shut and to keep riding.

Difficult to take season to season comparisons seriously , eg. In 2011 Rossi was quicker at catalunya that casey was the year before, casey got a podium Rossi fifth. But the big puzzle is that there was drizzle in 2011 and glorious sunshine the year before???? Makes no sense and neither do season to season comparisons. The tyres as casey has pointed out regularly are much slower than last years for just one factor( except of course now bs have given Honda tyre that both works and doesn't wear...) conspiracy theory anyone???

I find it amusing that some writers are now saying that the entire future of MotoGP depends on Rossi going to Honda or Yamaha. Like there was no GP racing before him and somehow the whole thing will collapse without him. Ah, the Internet, the land of hysteria without consequences ...