Rossi's Dilemma: 15 Million Euros At Ducati, Or 9 Million At Yamaha

MotoGP's bumper silly season has taken another step closer to its conclusion in recent weeks, with signs that both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are starting to move towards finalizing deals. Reports in the Italian sports daily Corriere dello Sport indicate that Valentino Rossi has been offered 15 million euros by Ducati to sign for the Italian factory.

That is a good deal more than Yamaha have offered the Italian. Rossi is reportedly currently under contract for some 14 million euros, but had been in discussions with Yamaha prior to Mugello about reducing his salary to between 9 and 10 million euros. That reduction was being driven by the need to cut costs, and the Corriere dello Sport is reporting that Rossi was looking favorably upon the salary cut, and had expressed a desire to finish his career at Yamaha.

But it appears that part of that salary cut is needed to fund a doubling of Jorge Lorenzo's contract, from 4 million in 2010 to 8 million in 2011. This, understandably, has left Rossi much less amenable to taking the pay cut, and probably more disposed to consider other options.

Ironically, Rossi no longer has complete control over his own fate. In years past, Rossi could simply lay out a range of demands, and his employers would either concede, or as happened to Honda at the end of 2003, watch as Rossi left to another team. Now, however, Yamaha have an advantage, if not quite the upper hand, as the YZR-M1 is clearly the best bike on the grid, and in Jorge Lorenzo, Fiat Yamaha have a rider capable of matching Rossi on his own terms, at the very least.

But Rossi's hand is also being forced to a certain extent by Ducati. The Marlboro Ducati is clearly capable of being competitive, as Casey Stoner has consistently demonstrated. But this year has seen an extra improvement, as Nicky Hayden and also Aleix Espargaro of the Pramac team has also demonstrated.

Most of all, though, if Valentino Rossi wants to see the number 1 status he believes he deserves reflected in salary, Ducati is probably his only option. While other manufacturers can land sponsorship based on Rossi's salary, the total marketing value they can offer is based the legend that is Valentino Rossi. But the marketing synergy between the brand Ducati and the brand Rossi is so great that Corriere dello Sport believes that Ducati has sponsors standing in line to pay for that. Like Harley-Davidson, Ducati is a brand that can sell t-shirts, caps, belts, after shave, and in the case of the Italian brand, even wine. Add Rossi to that marketing mix and you get almost unlimited selling power.

But there is yet another factor seeming to push Rossi towards Ducati. The injuries to Valentino Rossi and Hiroshi Aoyama have exposed the thinness of the MotoGP grid. Rossi's aura and enormous fan bases helps to camouflage the fact that MotoGP has just 17 bikes when everyone is healthy. With Rossi gone, and Aoyama out as well, the grid is looking very threadbare indeed. Paddock rumors suggest that the top echelons of Dorna would be all too happy to see their biggest marketing asset on a red bike, as the Spanish and Italian press would be full of nothing else all year, almost regardless of the results. A year of Rossi-Ducati coverage would take the series through to 2012, when it is hoped the new rules will help fill out the grids.

With the probability of a Rossi switch to Ducati increasing almost day by day, Jorge Lorenzo is drawing in on a Yamaha deal. Ironically, this is causing Lorenzo to put more and more distance between himself and Yamaha in his public statements, the Spaniard emphasizing that he hasn't made a decision yet, and that he is very much keeping all his options open.

But occasionally, Lorenzo lets his intentions slip through, as when veteran journalist Dennis Noyes asked him about the advantage the Yamaha has over the Honda and Ducati. Lorenzo told journalists that he was worried that development might stagnate, and the bike could end up not improving as much over the next couple of years. Noyes then asked whether that meant that he would be staying with Yamaha for that period, but Lorenzo realized his mistake, and said that he was merely trying to think from Yamaha's perspective, and not necessarily his own.

But with Rossi gone, a generous salary and the ability to direct development of the Yamaha M1 for the next few years, Lorenzo's best option is probably going to be to stay at Yamaha. When asked at Assen about the rumors, Lorenzo was evasive. "I have a passionate relationship with Yamaha," the Spaniard said, "but that doesn't mean I will not leave Yamaha. I would like to stay with Yamaha, but we will see what happens." But Lorenzo was not concerned about the lack of movement in the markets so far. "I am not in a rush," he said.

Back to top


When Vale went to Yamaha, the Honda was very clearly the bike to have and the Yamaha had never really been competitive. I think that has a LOT to do with Vale & Jeremy's ability to develop a bike. You could probably put him on a Suzuki and he would end up making it competitive. That is, if the engineers at Suzuki ever listened to the riders...

Even before Rossi was approached about a move, Yamaha were investing huge sums into the MotoGP program. Furusawa was hard at work and had completely overhauled the bike. Rossi and JB certainly had a big role in smoothing out the details but without that investment and engineering focus, the Yamaha would not have been the bike it was in whe Rossi first rode it. Of course, Rossi would never have moved to Yamaha is they weren't making that investment.

Nothing will fix the Suzuki until the factory decides they want to win at all costs.

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

I very much agree with this.
The seemingly magical healing powers of a Valentino Rossi or Casey Stoner to make a bike suddenly highly competitive are just partly due to the riders - and in Rossi's case also the genius that is Jerry Burgess - while the biggest chunk is down to the manufacturer and their utter commitment to the racing programme. With Suzuki you have the feeling for several seasons now that this commitment is simply not as high as it is with the other manufacturers. Just putting Rossi on their bike won't make it into a winning team from one day to another.

Is it a foregone conclusion that if Rossi moves to Ducati that Spies will move up to the Fiat team?

Now that I think about it...I don't guess it would literally be the "Fiat" team, would it. I would think they would be one of the legions of Italian sponsors that would be ready to jump on the Rossi/Ducati bandwagon (contractual commitments permitting).

So Spies to the (your name goes here)-Yamaha factory team?

I feel like my prediction last year is slowly coming true. Come on, is Yamaha going to let Lorenzo walk if he (as is almost certain) wins the title this year? They can't afford to pay Lorenzo a champions salary and retain Rossi and besides Rossi won't have Lorenzo as a teammate. Then there is the Spies factor. His podium last week makes it even more likely he will be a factory Yamaha man next year. Stoner is all but gone. Rossi to Ducati it just makes sense.

Ducati News, Reviews and Opinion or Tweet me @ducatinewstoday

If Rossi is considering going to Ducati, Jeremy Burgess and team must have agreed to come along. If so, that's most intriguing for me: the pairing of Filippo Preziosi with Burgess. Can you imagine?

I also wonder if the arrival of Spies had anything to do with Yamaha's decision-making process. They have an embarrassment of talent, but the pressure of replacing Rossi will be intense.

And can I say that I would love to have the "dilemma" Rossi is facing? €9-15 million... such a tough choice!

If Yamaha let Rossi go, is Fiat going to be interested in sponsoring Lorenzo and Spies at a big premium? Yamaha could lose more money if they let Rossi go unless they have big Spanish money waiting in the wings.

Maybe this is just an attempt to extort money from Fiat. Yamaha say they have to lower Rossi's salary, or FIAT can pony up another 5m to keep their name next to the goat.

It's hard to say, surely Yamaha must a bit worried about team revenues if Rossi leaves their organization. Even if they find a suitable title sponsor, they're still going to lose millions in Fiat Yamaha merchandising for clothing, toys, and other branded novelty items. I have a hard time believing they are going to cut Rossi's pay. Maybe his base compensation, but they must have some other compensation on the table?

Wasn't Fiat Yamaha collaboration a result of Vale's personal friendship with a friend who is someone's son in Fiat?

Would Repsol takes the chance to jump ship if Fiat decides not to sponsor anymore if Vale leaves? Think Repsol Yamaha....

Not sure what will happen with Fiat - although odds are it was a Rossi deal. However, with the top Spanish and US riders on board, I'm sure they won't have too much trouble on the sponsorship side.

I think that Yamaha will match the 15 million in the end if that's what it takes. I really think they have to understand the folly of sinking so much money into Rossi all these years just to have him finish out his career with a rival manufacturer. Granted, it would be a true spectacle just watching the press' collective heads explode, let alone the racing, but I still think Yamaha will fight to keep him.

I think even if Rossi left tomorrow Yamaha would have gotten their money's worth. That money bought them from has-beens to world champions, a GP bike that anyone can ride fast, a top level race team ready to go with a new rider, a great satellite team, lots of trickle down technology for their street bikes and WSB effort, and tens of thousands of motorcycles sold. Better return on their racing investment than any other GP team.

That's not to say they don't want to keep him, but he's earned every penny so far and I'm sure Yamaha feel the same.


They have definitely gotten their money's worth but Rossi will sell more bikes even when he is retired than Jorge. I really like them both, a lot, but they could trot Rossi out once a year for an ad campaign to remind everyone how they are associated with arguably the most famous racer ever. That's the biggest sticking point in my mind. If that wasn't a factor I think they'd stick with Jorge, no question.

I still don't see Rossi moving but he must be giving it serious consideration at this point. Lorenzo isn't going anywhere and Yamaha has a lot of negotiating power right now. It would be short sighted for Yamaha to let Rossi jump ship but they seem willing to risk it. Rossi is taking a big pay cut to fund Lorenzo's salary and probably thinking he's undervalued compared to Lorenzo (which is correct in my opinion). It'd be interesting to hear how Burgess feels about the Ducati Red.

When the sanctioning body has to push fluff to make up for lack of riders and close racing at the front. The fact that the paddock is even putting out rumors that Dorna hopes Rossi on a Duc would keep the papers happy for a year regardless of the results is a huge statement that its not about the racing anymore.

Like letting the MSMA make the technical rules, building Rossi into a personality superstar probably seemed like a good idea at the time but may be detrimental to the sport in the long run. At this stage it can be easily and convincingly argued that Rossi is bigger than the sport. What will happen to all of his fair weather fans when he leaves?


I just LOVE our community. Too rich. Pedantic. One of my (and also my British wife's) favorites.

Oh, and you needed a comma after "Sorry".

Sorry, but I am also pedantic. :)

Some good points made here with regards Fiat and Yamaha's investment in VR.

I wonder though if this enforced layoff has not changed Rossi's thinking a little. I believe prior to his crash he still harboured desires of beating Agostini's win record of 122. Possible with Yamaha - less so perhaps with Ducati. The crash has all but crushed that dream if we are to believe Rossi will only race bikes for a few more seasons.

Rossi has never hidden his own pleasure at the thought of an all conquering all Italian team. So yes the chances of a move to the red corner have become a little stronger. The official team or doing his own thing though?

Vale would be smart to go to Ducati - for lots of reasons

Yamaha is smart to keep Lorenzo and let Rossi go if he wants too much $

MotoGP will thrive if Vale is on a Duc

Stoner will be fast no matter what he is on

Spies will soon be an alien and add to the MotoGP excitement

Pedrosa will be lucky to get an offer from Suzuki - and only if Pluig doesn't come along

Suzuki would surely be delighted to get Dani, but it wont happen. He and Casey are the only ones that demonstrated that they're able to beat the factory M1's with Jorge or Vale in the seat in a normal race.

Dovi maybe believes he's faster than Dani because he's in front of Dani in the championship standing. But other than Dovi and his fans, none agrees with this assumption.

I agree with all the previous comments. I really find it hard to believe that Yamaha would let Rossi go. With all the work he and his crew have done for Yamaha. Yamaha would not be near where they are today In MotoGP if it wasn't for Rossi and Burgess. Besides I could have sworn Furasawa said he would rather let Jorge go then let Rossi go. With either choice they decide to go with they will be saving money. Because one of them is going to leave. And Ben Spies will most likely step up to fill the vacant spot. They won't have to pay him nearly as much as whoever leaves. I feel if Yamaha lose Rossi they will lose alot more than the difference between their salaries. I doubt Yamaha will sell more bikes because of Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi is a marketers dream. Most sportbikers here in America know you Valentino Rossi is. They don't even have to watch MotoGP but they know who he is. In America only people who follow MotoGP know who Jorge Lorenzo is. And America is a huge market for Yamaha. So in conclusion I feel that Yamaha will lose a lot more than a great rider if they let Valentino go. Thats my 2 cents.

with absolutely EVERYTHING you said.

With Rossi gone, Yamaha would HAVE a winner in Lorenzo, but they would not BE the winners regarding what it would do to their worldwide profile.

It would be short-sighted in the extreme to go with the "sure thing" for right now.

If you've seen the Simpsons episode where Homer wants a lottery ticket (which he has held up to the light, and he has seen that it is a $500 winner) and a packet of "Yodels"/snack cakes, and he realizes he doesn't have enough money for both...he buys the snack cakes and doesn't buy the lottery ticket. Buying the ticket, redeeming it for the money, THEN buying the cakes is too involved, so he takes the "right now" pleasure. It's foolish. It's HILARIOUSLY foolish. If Yamaha does something as insipid as Homer Simpson, then they are really short-sighted, and they're living for the moment.

That's my opinion.

Signing the (injured) legend that will quit racing within (at most) a few years and letting go of the most promising alternative whom has ten years left to win championships... could also be seen as short sighted.
What happens with both the coming years is ofcourse uncertain, but I can completely imagine Yamaha choosing for the future, being Lorenzo. And I have to say, he's kind of a love him/hate him guy, but when you are at the races and read the fora these days, his fanbase is growing rapidly.

Julian Ryder has said that Burgess said he will go where his rider goes.

Spies might go if he isn't given a factory spot, 3 into 2 doesn't go. Either Lorenzo or Rossi are gone from Yamaha in 2011. Pretend your the head of Yamaha racing.

Do you sign your multi champion out with injury who is at the end of his career or take the 2010 World champion and build for the future?

Ducati News, Reviews and Opinion or Tweet me @ducatinewstoday

you try and sign the guy who brings in the biggest $$$s... and is still capable of winning the championship...

This is getting more and more difficult not to believe. I would nevr had put these pieces together last year.. except for one.

Spies to Fiat Yamaha (this is the exception)
Rossi to Marlboro Ducati
Stoner to Repsol Honda
Dovi to ? Tech 3 ?

This is dog loving kitten madness!

Ducati if Rossi goes there - doesnt he have a no smoking policy? Watching Burgess on Australian TV last week there was a feeling that anything could happen, it was up to Vale and he would go where Vale went. Speculation only but that was the vibe.

In effect June 22nd The FDA banned, among other things, the use of, "Tobacco brand-name sponsorship of any "athletic, musical or other social or cultural event."

I wonder if this will impact the Marlboro side of Ducati at all... ? Perhaps an interesting reason to have Rossi with his (as users here have suggested) Fiat tie in... Fiat Ducati anyone? Pure speculation, as I do not know the reach of FDA on multinational sports. Also there is the fact that Marlboro has been able to hide under a very technical mask so far.

,,it's all but a sure thing, The broken leg and consequent write-off of the season will prove to be the deal maker for the Ducati move. If he were still in contention for the tittle, Yamaha probably would not have shown their cards about the commitment to Lorenzo so early in the season. Next years results now have the built-in excuse for Rossi if things go pair shape on the NEW Ducati. Complete with the "Yamaha didn't appreciate me enough" angle... Although,, if it all works for him in the next 2 years, it will further solidify his never-been-done-before, GOAT status. For Yamaha, stacking "heirs" to the throne looks to be paying off. Spies/Lorenzo for the next five years isn't a bad consolation prize. And in this economy, Dorna NEEDS this story line and the accompanying interest.

Remember, Yamaha took Jorge into the team AGAINST Rossi's will. I'm speculating, but maybe this was a reaction to rather brazen demands from Rossi over the years. Perhaps this was the first unmistakenly sign from Yamaha that there are limits what an "employee" can demand, even if his name is Valentino Rossi.

Possibly Yamaha realized that with Jorge they could successfully race some 5 to 10 years, with Valentino some 2 to 5. As Furusawa said, Valentino is the present, Jorge the future.
This season, it looks like Jorge becomes more and more the present.

And apparently Jorge won the internal fight. Remarkable. If Valentino is leaving Yamaha, Jorge and his manager accomplished something outstanding.

Maybe only Stoner will be the big name to move.
Rossi to stay at yamaha with Lorenzo
Spies to stay at Tech 3, but get a fater bike that had the lastest parts. hes happy at tech 3. Yamaha could do what Honda do and ( Marcos on almost works bikes)
JB said on TV that the Tech 3 bikes are the same at the factory bikes.

Rossi started the psycho game against Jorge last winter, a game he had played so often and so successfully. Leaving the wall in the garage and stopping data exchange was another piece in Rossi's puzzle.

But unfortunately for Rossi the psycho game backfired, Jorge didn't crumble.

And now Vale can't go back and say "well lets be all together a happy team in 2011 again".

agreed that it is a game of sorts, but I don't think it was a bad idea. Nor did it backfire. Competitors compete, whether you are on the same "team" (what does this really mean in racing anyways) or you are riding for different manufacturers. It is therefore not in a racer's best interest, if he is enjoying success, to share his data and help an up and coming competitor.

Do you think Stoner will be helping Nicky if Nicky keeps qualifying and finishing ahead of him? So far they have had a great relationship, but only because Nicky spent a whole season near last. The next season only midpack. I wonder what it's like now.

Spies is happy at Tech 3 now but he won't be for long. He has clearly laid out that this is a learning year and that he expects to have a real bike under him next year - and his results will reflect what he is given.

Regardless of what Yamaha do with Rossi, Spies will expect a factory bike next season.

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Both Lorenzo and Rossi have massive amounts of respect for each other and at the end of the day they both want the same thing ... to win.

Would Rossi really risk riding a bike he doesnt know at this level of competition?

I think in the end they will both stay where they are, the politics, the unspoken rules of the game, the many symbols assigned to meaningless values, the mind games and all the fabulous drama in this has nothing to do with actual racing. And that's what these guys care about most of all. If they do not then im watching the wrong sport.

And that is Burgess.

I think JB has made it clear once before, if Rossi moves again, he might not go.

I don't doubt Rossi's talent of riding a motorcycle, but I won't overlook the impact Burgess makes to the team, especially Rossi's results.

I'm willing to bet Rossi's decision would weigh heavily on whether Burgess will follow or not. And one would have to question, if the perfect opportunity came up for JB to retire, would he snag the opportunity? Knowing that a move with Rossi to somewhere like Ducati, would mean at least 2 more years in MotoGP. Not to mention the feeling of starting with a clean slate .... again!!!

I for one hopes Rossi stays at Yamaha, and Lorenzo goes somewhere else. Any where else.

Or, bring back the 990's, where rider imput actually had something to do wtih riding the bike, and someones' "true" talent can shine through. ;) Then it won't matter to me where Rossi ends up. :)


Let´s think about something. In 2009, VR decided that his future was in yamaha, because he had in his mind the 2010 championship, and get closer to the 122 gp wins, (lets be honest its the only thing is left for him).

But today he has no chance on winning 2010; and from there (IMO) the history is different, cause 2012 its gonna be the beggining of the end for the 800 C.C era.

Yamaha could decide stick with the M1 as it is; but the thruth is that everybody (at least yamaha, ducati and honda) will have the opportunity to build a better machine.

So, the "dogma" that yamaha is the best bike in the grid could only last until 2011.

Having that in mind, if ducati put on the table a 1000 c.c. strong development proyect, (wsbk hasnt been so bad for them, except this year) and addition to that puts a bunch more millions, VR will have enough reasons to sign with the dukes; no to win 2011 but the 2012 season.

That's a good point. With the impending rule changes much of the advantage the current bikes have may be lost and they'll all start on par (except Suzuki of course). Rossi wouldn't be too concerned about changing knowing that the Yamahas may not be any better off after the changes take effect. I'd guess that the factory riders will be involved in development at some stage so why not get in early ... with JB on board .. and make the most of it. Hmmm Italian team, Italian bike, Italian rider, Italian sponsors ... c'mon they gotta be creaming themselves hoping this will come off.

Stoner goes to Repsol
Dovi stays at Repsol

Rossi goes Ducati red
Nicky could be gone - His ride TBD but if his season is successful he stays

Jorge stays at Yamaha
Dani Joins Jorge @ Yamaha

if i'm not mistaken, Spies cannot go to Factory Yamaha if he is up for Rookie of the Year. He has to wait a year so that leaves the Yamaha seat open.

Ducati mechanics already told to look for new employment
Livio Suppo went to Repsol in preparation of Stoner moving

Mark my words on all of this!

Took me for a loop with the rookie+Spies comment as well. BS' contract was for two years, so he is already signed for next year with Yamaha. I believe also that there was a clause in his contract that he gets a factory bike for 2012. My picks for teams next year are:

Yamaha (factory):


Tech 3 Yamaha:


San Carlo Honda:

New guy here, been reading along for a while, but decided to join in. I don't claim to know it all, but have been a GP fan since we use to get the month delayed KR races on ABC.

I think your Ducati predictions are right, Hayden and Rossi will be back together. Yamaha will be Spies and Lorenzo like you said, but then the wheels come off.



Tech 3:

San Carlo:

I think that Dovi will stay on at Honda and Dani is out at the end of the year. I think that Dani will go to Suzuki for the top rider role, and also to try and turn the bike around. He will get to be the lead rider again and dominate the development of the bike. But, I think that Suzuki will have to step up their level of involvement, or Dani won't do it. I don't know that Yamaha is going to try and put Lorenzo and Pedrosa in the same garage, that just sounds like a recipe for disaster. I doubt that many teams are going to want to put up with Puig, after the problems he has caused at Honda.

An interesting look back to an interview here on this site with Lin Jarvis regarding contracts for Vale, Jorge and Honda's interests (which we now know to be Stoner) and how it may shape 2011-2012. He also talks of Ben's contract.

Here is the link. This site has the best interviews btw.

They clearly want to keep both Vale and Jorge but realize that the pull from other teams will be formidable. Ben is a year ahead of schedule, being originally slated for WSBK this year and Tech 3 in 2011. However he would be the one to move to any open seat on the Factory in 2011 should it come available, provided he doesn't bin this season, which, c''s Ben! He'll move up.

So that leaves Tech 3 with a possible double opening. Colin is well liked and if not a racer Yamaha has always said they would retain him as a development rider - which will only happen if Colin is no longer riding up to par or he wants to retire (or so it sounded in previous interviews with Herve Poncharal).

I think the following, and I am not one to take seriously in this as I was just recruited into fandome by my husband 4 years ago, but be that as it may....ahem...

    Yamaha: Lorenzo/Spies
    - although this is tough 'cuz I want Vale to stay and I want Spies to move up and I think Jorge stays (can we get three bikes, please? For me?)

    Ducati: Rossi/Hayden
    - I think Ducati just signed another year with Marlboro and Hayden is getting big love from Ducati so he stays. But I don't want Rossi to go to Ducati - Rossi yellow would sooo not go with their red!

    Honda: Pedrosa/Stoner
    - I read that Repsol is tied to Dani and they need Repsol. I am a Dani fan, he was my first love but now he has to share me with Ben. I claim woman's prerogative.

    Tech3: Dovi/Crutchlow
    - if Edwards retires to development otherwise Edwards/Dovi

I will now slink back into my cave and hope I didn't embarrass myself. G'night all. our merry band of miscreants.

Who cares if your prognostications are wrong? Your post was adorable. It's good to have you here. (My wife likes Rossi, but she gets REALLY happy when Nicky smiles... After all, it's her prerogative...) :)

You most certainly did NOT embarrass yourself.

'Nuff said. :)

I love Rossi too - found that out one day when I saw another rider flip him off and I about lost my mind. All kinds of bad girl language, pillows flying and hysterical laughing husband enjoying the show. But Ben and Dani are my boys.
Nicky IS adorable, I will give your wife that. :)

that is right, Spies is a rookie this year and that means he needs to wait until AFTER next year to make a move to a factory team. Maybe I am reading this incorrectly, but Spies is elgible. Hmm, maybe that means during his current year! OK, either way, Spies still stays put.
•In 2010, no rider eligible for Rookie of the Year will be allowed to go straight to a factory team. Instead, they will have to go to a private or satellite team for at least one year, after which they will be eligible to join a factory team

For the year 2011 he will no longer be considered a rookie and may join a factory team. Which means Yamaha can contract him this year to fill an empty seat in 2011. He just cannot ride factory in the 2010 season.

Since he is under contract with Yamaha he does not have a contractual obligation to stay with Tech 3 in 2011. Many would agree this was done intentionally so that he could move up, should an opening arise (like Rossi retiring or going to F1 or Lorenzo leaving). It was good foresight by Yamaha and Spies I think.

As others have pointed out, the rookie rule only prevents riders from joining a factory team in their first year in MotoGP. 2011 will be Spies' second year, so he will be free to move up to the Fiat Yamaha team if there's a vacancy. Jarvis hinted as much to me in his interview.

However, your confusion highlights the problem with the rule. When even clearly intelligent people are having trouble deciphering exactly how the rule applies, then there's something badly wrong. Too many of those kinds of rules have been drawn up in recent years. 

Who is going to get the boot?

Dani has been Repsol's favorite for a few years now. Honda is probably pissed that he hasn't gotten the job done yet.

Dovi is hot on his heels trying to save his job.

Honda is notorious for axing people regardless of results, etc.

I wonder what will happen.

Maybe they'll run a three-man team. It's not unheard of, and there is a lot of talk about that in the paddock. But so far, it's just talk. 

How likely do you rate this 3-man team scenario? As likely as that Max/Kawasaki deal to keep him in GPs a few years ago? Would Honda foot the entire bill or would Repsol pay for an extra non-Spanish rider?

Top-shelf site, btw.

Back when I worked at Ducati Richmond, at the same time when Rossi left Repsol Honda, it was widely talked around the American Ducati dealers that Ducati had offered him more money than Yamaha. Sound familiar?

The negative on the deal is that Ducati is real big on off the track publicity and personal appearances. This was borne out by our dealership moving into newer, much better quarters during January 2000. For the grand opening of the new store, Ducati yanks the new World Superbike rookie Ben Bostrum off his initial training sessions with the team and Foggy, and plops him into Richmond, VA for the weekend.

Hell of a weekend. Ben earned himself an incredible fan following, even showing up at the local sportbike bar Saturday night (we invited him, never expected him to show up) and staying until closing time. The shop profited handily from that weekend.

This kind of stuff was the sticking point with a contract for Rossi. Obviously what you can do with a Ben Bostrum would be suicidal for a Valentino Rossi. And he went to Yamaha, who didn't have the personal appearance demands.

Wonder how things would be worked this time around?

Rossi should go to Ducati. That much money, plus the #1 position that he deserves, plus the Italian factor are too powerful to turn down. The Ducati, Honda and Yamaha are pretty even this year. Rossi should have no trouble winning on the Duc. It would be nice to see him battle Lorenzo more openly as well. This teammate arrangement really masks all the drama of big rivals.

I know Pedrosa and Stoner will find top teams for next year also, and with the way Dovi is riding, he deserves a factory ride too. But it would be really nice to see RDP get a factory ride next year. His development has been impressive. Too bad there are not enough good seats to go around.

Really, the biggest thing Yamaha gets out of Rossi closing his career with them is this: They will forever be immortalized as Valentino's team.

Every mention of Valentino in a history book, or a record book, will have Team Yamaha on it. Much like MV every time Ago is mentioned. Almost mythical.

My nephew does not even remember Valentino, the Honda rider, anymore.

And you can not put a price on that sort of legend building.

I'm not sure where you are pulling that rule from, but I don't remember reading that the rookie of the year cannot join a factory team the year after.
I'm pretty sure Spies is on the Factory team next year :)

About Rossi not going to Ducati, I don't remember anything about it being because of personal appearances. I have read his autobio and followed his career, along with MotoGP pretty well since he was with Honda.

As I recall the sticking point was always the team. Rossi's attitude was very different to Ducati's. Rossi felt that it was about the rider and Ducati wanted to stress that it was the bike that made winning capable. Of course they are both right but over time Ducati has changed. They improved the bike this year so that not only Stoner could ride it. Supposedly Livio Suppo heading to Honda was at least in part to make Ducati more attractive to Rossi. I think Ducati is more in the mood to give credit to the riders than they used to be, which is what Rossi wants.

I get the legacy thing but Rossi doesn't like having a challenge from within his team and I think he also isn't necessarily going away in 2 or 3 years, so for Yamaha to try to hang onto him till he retires could get quite costly.

More than anything though Rossi needs to get JB to go with him.

Other than that I would like to see RDP get a better ride next year. I believe that BMW and Aprilia may run a team in 2012 with their modified 1000's.

I hope that the class can have 24-30 bikes on the grid in the coming years with only the occasional lapped bike.

I don't really believe money will make a huge difference to Vale anymore. They may do for Yamaha though.
But probably is more a risks story. Yamaha may loose Vale retiring with them which, as correctly said before, is almost priceless. The connection Vale - Yamaha will be embossed in stone. And there's no tag big enough to have the "maybe" greatest of all times but definitely the "most famous" of all times.
On the other side Rossi to Ducati can win or loose.
The former will shed a bit of the "maybe" before. A couple of WC would possibly, arguably, lift him a couple of inches over Ago (as long as this talks make sense).
The latter (not winning) could be the "not so great" ending of an otherwise astonishing carrier. So he has his share of risks.
Not that in time he has proved not capable of taking them. And winning.

I believe that if he gets the feeling that he can win a red bike ... he may go for it because the potential benefit it's huge. For both. On the other side Yamaha should give him more to retain him. Not money probably. Or not only.

I think Valentino will care much more about what kind of resources Ducati can put on bike development than on his own salary. I am not saying salary doesn't matter but winning matters much more, especially if Lorenzo will stay in Yamaha. As others have written, Valentino moved to Yamaha when they decided to pure a huge amount of resources into bike development. The same could be valid when considering a move to Ducati. Now, the problem is that Ducati is incomparably smaller than Yamaha. Ducati does incredibly well with what they have but I am not sure Valentino will want to run the risk of closing his carrier as border-line alien because there are not enough resources to develop an over-the-top 2012 1000. If Valentino can put together a sponsor dream team for the next three years this could be enough to finance the kind of development he needs to beat everyone else before retiring.

I believe the moment Rossi broke his leg will be looked upon as the catalyst for his switch (if he makes it back at all - more of that later).

It is highly probably, although not inevitable, that Lorenzo will win the title this year. He is without doubt one of the future stars of MotoGP, and Yamaha would be right to try and keep him there, and not let the number 1 plate walk out the door (will he keep 99?).

Rossi, with no chance of winning the title, and his bargaining power severely reduced is in no position to have a say on who is his teammate, and cannot bear the fact that he is developing a bike for Lorenzo to go and win possibly more champonships. The crash was his fault, he admits that, and therefore cannot really lay any blame on the bike or the team, and in his mind accepts that if he were in Yamahas position, he would try and hang onto Lorenzo as well.

Ducati come waving not just the cash, but No 1 status, as Stoner is leaving, AND the opportunity to further cement the 'GOAT' status by becoming the only rider to win titles on 3 different manufacturers. Now this has been dangled at Rossi before, but the bike was a relative unknown and/or a career killer (see resume of M. Melandri). However, this year Hayden has been getting himself towards the sharp end of the field, the bike is reportedly easier to ride, all of the things Rossi would want to hear. If things don't go quite right, he would have probably negotiated a one-year deal with an option to continue if things go well. If they don't, cue Ferrari or WRC or a beach somewhere.

I know Rossi has publicly stated that he will be back - but he might not continue past the end of the year. He'll see out his contract, and then go off and do whatever he wants. For someone who's not missed a GP in such a long time, a prolonged absence, and the thought of 'what have I got left to prove?', may linger and get stronger. The whole thing reminds me a lot of the end of Mick Doohan. Admittedly Rossis injurys are less than Doohans multiple fractures, but it is still an injury that prevents you from racing for a while. Doohan was also struggling with form at the start of the season, losing a couple of races to Kenny Jr. Doohan said he would be back, but eight months later he retired without getting back to a race. I'm sure he would have gotten back on a NSR at one stage (private test or something), and then thought 'not for me anymore'. Doohan also had nothing left to prove. I hope I'm wrong, as Rossi would be sorely missed, love him or hate him, and a move to Ducati would secure me 5 pounds off your photographer!

"Ducati come waving not just the cash, but No 1 status, as Stoner is leaving, AND the opportunity to further cement the 'GOAT' status by becoming the only rider to win titles on 3 different manufacturers. "

This is a damned fine point.

I reckon Rossi will be back, however you have made some fine points around his injury that I never considered, especially when comparing to Doohan's similar situation! The time away might just sway his thinking...

I think after this year, Yamaha's second golden age may slowly come to an end.
This I find especially sad considering that they will probably secure a top factory team line-up with Lorenzo and Spies.

If Rossi's demands to stay at Yamaha were deemed too high (either me or Lorenzo)
it means that the sporting decision (Lorenzo being the future) has won over the marketing decision (securing Vale as a brand ambassador for life). I'm fine with this in terms of rancing, but it will inevitably mean that the Lin Jarvis option has won over the Furusawa one.

I don't think anyone will disagree that the Yamaha turnaround was based namely on the Furusawa/Burgess/Rossi connection and, good as Lorenzo and Spies are, the combined talents of Rossi, JB and Ducati's commitment along with a Stoner strengthened Honda team will make the going very, very tough in the future for Yamaha.

Hopefully they will achieve a Lorenzo 2010 and Spies 20100 Championship before the drought...

Of course so far it's just a lot of speculation and it is not at all clear what will happen, but these rumors often have the truth somewhere behind them pushing them along.

And as I commented before, it does make a certain amount of sense for Rossi to go to Ducati, financial considerations aside (I do not think he will be primarily motivated by that, or by feelings of loyalty to stay with Yamaha) -- it offers him the chance to attempt to win the title for a third manufacturer, and with Lorenzo staying it's not like he would be leaving Yamaha without someone capable of winning it all (so his conscience would be eased by that extent).

I also said the Stoner to Honda rumors seemed to have substance given what's been going on this season overall -- something seems to be 'up' with Stoner now that he's been 'down' on the track too often this year (although he's always been a bit of a crasher, and did crash away the title in 2008). I sense there's not that same warm feeling due to his problems finishing races earlier this year (also now probably the rumors as well).

The real problem is not at Ducati (Rossi, Hayden, who would probably be favored over Capirossi) or Yamaha (Lorenzo, Spies). The problem is Honda. Who will partner Stoner at Honda? They have two very good riders now, but one of them will have to go (unless Honda would agree to support three factory machines, which I think unlikely). It's easy to say it would be Pedrosa who would stay, since he's the one with better results to date (and arguably better talent, as Lorenzo says), but with an improving Dovizioso and the switch to the bigger bikes coming soon...Who knows?

concur with the honda problems. Dovi is doing better, but also RDP is flying on the satellite honda. What will honda do?

Lost in all of this is the minimal testing that is now allotted to MotoGP riders. Any rider switching manufacturers will have big disadvantage when compared to riders who stay on the same bike. If Rossi's goal is to go to Ducati and win next year, he will have a big mountain to climb when faced with Lorenzo on a sorted Yamaha.

That said, I think Valentino's decision has been boxed in by his recovery, the salary issues, and the prospect of another year with a faster teamate on the same bike, but now with a #1 on his fairing. Thus, going to Ducati is now looking like the best option, and in some ways the only option. But Burgess still seems to be the hinge to me, if he agrees to go along to Ducati, then I think this is a done deal.

I doubt that personal appearances will be any factor here. Rossi going to Ducati would be so colossal, I imagine that Italy will declare a national holiday. I can envision the following two word marketing campaign:

Rossi. Ducati.

Those two words together have so much power, that nothing else needs to be said or done.

I don't think Rossi will win the title at Ducati.

It's more likely that Rossi, like others before him, will find the bike too difficult to adjust to / ride at the limit the way you must do in order to win a MotoGP title. Especially given the stiff competition, his age (perhaps not the most important factor), and the fact he's just suffered a *very serious* injury.

Ducati does not seem to have a technical advantage (any more -- they did seem to have a top speed advantage in 2007 / 2008) over Honda or Yamaha. And Stoner does seem to have some special talent -- after all, since the beginning of 2007 he's won the same number of races as Rossi (20).

I remember in Rossi's biography it was stated that in the middle of the 2003 season, Rossi would sneak out to some Yamaha tent in the middle of the night to check out the M1 and give advice based on what the engineers told him, what he saw, etc (don't recall if he rode the M1 or not while being a Honda rider).

If all this Ducati stuff is even half true, he must have already been in some secret room with engineers and whatnot. I wonder if he has ridden the GP10. People should keep a closer eye on him.

It may have been said, but I haven't seen it...sooooooo...

Has anyone said anything about the safety aspect that the riders DO find to be of (potentially) deadly importance? I've heard of numerous riders saying (and it is almost beyond argument) that the CORNERING SPEEDS are what is making the racing so dangerous. The whole silly season overload is arguably because of that issue. Straight-line speed isn't where the injuries have happened (apologies, Nakano), and now the 250-style cornering has claimed the biggest draw in the sport. So...might this be a catalyzing event in simplifying or diluting the electronic stranglehold on the bikes?

I've not been up on my reading and writing, so if it's been addressed...TOUGH. Answer it anyway! :) (HA!)

p.s. I don't believe that the money is important to Rossi, so much as status, respect and a good bike. Yamaha made a TOWERINGLY BAD move by giving all of Rossi's development to J.Lo, along with a one-year contract. I would be FURIOUS if I was VR. On the other hand, all that we're seeing is the money talk on the surface. Behind the scenes, Rossi is no doubt INTIMATELY aware of the status on future development for Ducati. He's almost certainly up to date on absolutely everything going on there, and if they aren't building or developing a bike that he thinks can win...then he's not going anywhere. He'll take a pay cut, kick some ass, and remind everyone who he is. If he moves, it's because he knows he can win. This decision will be based on many issues that are more important and less visible than the money being offered.

About your question, higher corner speeds mean that crashes have a higher potential for carnage. No doubt. How electronics figure in, well Nick and Juan Martinez had a bit on today where they touched on that a bit. Nick says that the electronics have reduced the number of crashes but since allowing for higher speeds in the corners have made many of the resulting crashes nasty. I can't honestly say that I have seen too much from the 2 stroke era to say if there are more or less but the prevailing wisdom is that there are fewer crashes now. But again higher speed means more ouch.

In the piece Nick didn't seem to think the electronics will ever go away. He said that they should be making it to the street machines because they are actually of more use on the road than to pros on a track.

Personally I have thought since last season there were too few bikes on the grid. Even when Kawasaki was around it looked thin. This year with now 2-4 walking wounded and 2 guys out, it makes it quite obvious that there needs to be a healthier number of bikes on the grid. The idea of several guys banged up and sitting out or riding injured isn't new this year. Its just that since the MotoGP era, the slowest guys on the grid were never assured points for finishing the race until this year.

To those that feel that Rossi's objections to tobacco sponsorship might hinder his Malboro Ducati signing...

I doubt that would be an influence. I remember well that many sighted Rossi's departure from the Gauloises sponsorship (Blue and GOOOOOOO! - remember?) of 2004 / 2005 was down to his objections to tobacco sponsorship. In the end he had to give in to 2006 sponsorship from the "yellow" Camel Yamaha team (largely a season to forget!). If memory serves, I remember that at the start of 2006 even Valentino's wishes had limitations! Fags were big money back then - in the UK, "fags" mean cigarettes by the way...

Simoncelli is getting faster - 2 x Honda factory teams? Also Dovi, Hayden, Spies all hoping for factory rides. Have to think that someone will run 2 factory teams.

1) With all the money Yamaha spend (RatsMC: my wife's people refer to organizations in the plural) on their Moto GP program, why would they balk at a few million dollars...when they could virtually guarantee buying the next World Championship?

2) Part of this cake walk for Yamaha has a LOT to do with Ducati having a stinker (at least for Casey)...

(Bloody HELL, but the races are like watching paint dry right now. I tuned in for one half lap of the Moto GP race, saw that J.Lo was ahead by 7 minutes, turned it back off...)

sorry, but no way do Dani and JLo end up on the same team. did you see the body language on the stairs waiting to go on the podium yesterday? looks like its mostly on JLo, but these guys do not like each other. On the other hand, I think a lot of JLo's tribute to Rossi the past couple of weeks has been to try and show they can be teamates. I can't see JLo wanting to go anywhere else. Even if went to a Dani-less Honda, he has to share the garage with Stoner- who's number one? And would he roll the dice with Ducati? Not likely, especially considering Ducati, at this point, would pay him less than what Yamaha is now offering. If Yamaha can't pay both Rossi and JLo, Rossi goes to Ducati for 2 years, with Hayden - they get along well. Yamaha has Spies / JLo team, and its Stoner, Dovi and Dani at Honda, probably with Puig swinging a private factory bike for Dani.