After what seems like an eternal wait, Valentino Rossi is about to make his first official appearance as a Ducati rider on Monday evening, when the MotoGP team is presented at the annual Wrooom event that the Bologna factory host together with Ferrari at the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. Since Rossi's switch to Ducati was announced back in August 2010, Ducati, Rossi and Yamaha have masterminded a remarkable media blackout, meaning that nobody has been able to speak to the Italian about the move, despite the obvious fan demand and media pressure. Instead, the fans have been forced to make do with the impressions filtered through third parties, such as Filippo Preziosi at the Valencia tests, or more recently, Jerry Burgess in the Italian magazine Motosprint.
From tonight, that is all over. Rossi and Nicky Hayden will be presented at the opening of the Wrooom event on Monday evening, followed by a week of activity with the press. Shortly afterwards, we should begin to hear Rossi's impressions of the Ducati directly from the horse's mouth, rather than via intermediaries. The most pressing questions Rossi is likely to face will revolve around his slow times at Valencia, whether they were down to his shoulder injury - the Italian is still recovering from surgery to fix that problem - and how much that influenced his feeling with the Ducati's fickle front end.
But the Wrooom event is a mere appetizer, a media showcase and a chance for the (printed) media to talk to the Ducati team. The proof of the pudding will come in three weeks' time, when MotoGP paddock gathers for the first test of the year in Sepang on February 1st. Rossi's recovery should be almost complete by then, with enough strength to do at least short runs at race pace, and to test the parts that Ducati is expected to bring for the 2011 season.