Rossi To Ride At Qatar - In World Superbikes?

Since the end of the 2008 season, Valentino Rossi has been very public about his admiration of the World Superbike series. So much so that the revealed he had tried to arrange to race in the final World Superbike round of 2008 at Portimao in Portugal. After that proved impossible to arrange, Rossi then spoke of his desire to race triple world champion Troy Bayliss aboard a World Superbike some time in 2009.

Bayliss may have turned down Rossi's offer - or perhaps we should call it a challenge - but Rossi remains undeterred. The Doctor continues to press for a chance to ride in World Superbikes.

Now, according to the British motorcycle racing website, it looks like he could get his chance. BSN's Edgar Jessop has revealed that Valentino Rossi hopes to line up at the second race of the World Superbike season at Qatar in March.

The report cites unnamed sources inside the Yamaha Motor Italia team, but despite there being no official statement, the chances of Rossi actually racing in World Superbikes are pretty good. Rossi's MotoGP team boss Davide Brivio has already stated publicly that he is prepared to support Rossi in his bid for a World Superbike wildcard, so The Doctor would appear to have Yamaha's official blessing.

The prospect of Rossi riding in World Superbikes must be have Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta in a cold sweat. This has already been a very bad week for MotoGP, and the chance of MotoGP losing the goose that lays Dorna's golden eggs would see MotoGP's status as the premier motorcycle racing class showing some serious cracks. The next few years promise to be interesting times for motorcycle racing fans.

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I'm just wondering if he would actually be allowed to participate in the WSBK race. With Qatar being a MotoGP track as well I thought riders weren't supposed to use those tracks outside specified testings and the races?

IIRC, in 2006 both Melandri and Elias tested on 600's prior to a European race on a GP track after recovering from injury. That's off the top of my head, and if someone is ready to fill in the details feel free.


Maybe Rossi is looking for some closer racing than MotoGP is able to provide. Maybe he is looking at alternatives, after all he has nothing left to prove in MotoGP.

Or maybe he's sending a message to the powers that be. What could that message be?

He's on record as not being a fan of electronics, so maybe one of his motives is to get some sort of traction control regulation put in place. I realize that superbikes run sophisticated electronics packages, but not to the level of a MotoGP bike.

Or is it something else entirely?

Possibly. But what does it say if he doesn't? No doubt he's the best - maybe of all time - but those guys in WSBK aren't slouches.

One race isn't an indictment on Rossi if he doesn't win, but what would it say in regards to the supposed disparity in talent between MotoGP and WSBK?

I'm thinking mostly about the guys who aren't on factory machinery, and not Stoner, Pedrosa, et al. It's hard to imagine somebody like DePuniet or Elias going to WSBK and cleaning up.

Of course Edwards and Toseland have WSBK cred and their experience shows just how difficult it is to change series and be successful.