The Rossi Saga: Part 3, The New Flame

The third and final installment of the worst-kept secret in racing is which team Valentino Rossi will be racing for in 2011. The completely unsurprising answer is of course Ducati. Rossi has signed a two-year deal, for 2011 and 2012. The official press release appears below:


Brno (Czech Republic) August 15th 2010 - Ducati and Valentino Rossi have signed a two year agreement for the nine-times World Champion to race with the "Rossa" of Borgo Panigale in the Ducati Marlboro Team from 2011.

The arrival of Valentino in Ducati opens a new and exciting chapter in the Italian factory's sporting history and, indeed, of the whole MotoGP Championship. The opportunity of lining-up such an extraordinary rider and character is considered by Ducati to be a huge value to the whole Ducati MotoGP project.

"We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011," commented Gabriele Del Torchio, President of Ducati Motor Holding. "He is a paragon of excellence in the world of motorcycling, coherent with our Italian company which is a standard-bearer for "made in Italy" excellence. These are key values for success in technology, design and sportsmanship. In addition to the strong and passionate intent of both parties, this agreement has been made possible by the committed support of our shareholder Investindustrial and all the sponsors associated with the Ducati Marlboro Team, sponsors which have believed in this opportunity and share and support our choices."

"Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions," said Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse General Director. "Until the Valencia GP he will remain a competitor, one so great that he has always given a special value to our victories, but as soon as he rides the Ducati for the first time, we will work together on every single detail that will develop a bike capable of showing his huge talent. Working with Valentino is one of the most exciting things for every Engineer and it's good to know we will have this opportunity next season."

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From the earlier years of Nicky's MotoGP career, he and Vale got on pretty well. I can't imagine that they would need a wall in the garage, or that Vale would want to kill the relationship like that. The teams that are sharing information between riders have been doing reasonably well. Look at Ducati, Nicky and Casey have been finishing near each other all season.

There will be no wall. But I have a feeling that Nicky will feel like there is an even bigger barrier in terms of language when Rossi joins the team. While Bayliss may have been used to Italian as the lingua Franca from his WSBK time, I bet English became much more popular with the team after Qatar 2007.

This is good for Ducati, good for Rossi and good for MotoGP.

Best of fortunes to Vale in the twilight last few years of his career. I just hope Dorna and the other powers in MotoGP can figure out how to make the racing more competitive and fair.

Dorna and all the big wheels in MotoGP LISTEN to us fans - you CAN still make a LOT of money and give the fans what THEY want - at the same time!

I want to know if it's confirmed that Burgess is coming with him. If not, it'd be a bit of a bombshell within this non-bombshell.

I trust David has his ears to the train tracks on this one. As soon as it is known we will know.

In a way I feel bad about all this because Yamaha were kinda asking for Rossi to settle for less money because of Jorge's salary but Rossi kinda made it a him or me thing. It's too bad that lately Rossi hasn't been able to keep up with Jorge on the other Fiat Yamaha because I'm not so sure he will on the Ducati next year.

Rossi is imo the greatest racer I've ever seen in my lifetime but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and predict that he doesn't win a single race next year.

While it may be possible, to the extent that pretty much anything is possible, that Rossi may not win in '11 as you predict, it may be worth remembering that, during '07, Stoner looked absolutely unstoppable. Three years later, '07 is still his only title.

Lorenzo is on form at the moment, but he too, like all, will go through both peaks and valleys. A couple of crashes perhaps, and he too may lose confidence, just as Stoner has since looking utterly dominant in Qatar right up until his crash.

Moreover, while all the big names are still there, this has been an unusually thin year of competition against a rider on top form. Stoner hasn't fought for a thing since Qatar, except for Sachsenring against Rossi. Pedrosa, when he is on, makes the rest of the paddock look pathetic, but this only happens two times a season, and that ain't nearly enough. And Rossi: acknowledge it or not, when you are carrying injuries to parts of your body that are critical to the proper performance of your given activity, your performance will be adversely affected. Even with a shoulder injury - critical to a racer, especially one who is regarded as being as good on the brakes as anyone - Rossi was only 9 points down on Lorenzo prior to his leg injury in Mugello, the practice sessions of which he was leading at the time of his crash.

Moreover, even with the lack-of-form competition, in time disparity terms relative to his next closest competitor, Lorenzo isn't as "dominant" this season as Stoner was during '07 (and then in '08 from the Barcelona test until his bubble was burst in Laguna Seca). And it isn't as if new records are being set every race this season, much less even running at a higher pace than just last season.

While points and results-wise, this season is turning out to be a runaway, you put in 4 in-form riders, rather than just 1 in-form and 3 out-of-form riders, and Lorenzo wouldn't be looking nearly as dominant.

A couple of times this year, many shallow couch-analysts have assessed Pedrosa to be unbeatable, finally over-the-hump, based on no more than those individual performances. And an even greater number of shallow couch-analysts newly anoint Lorenzo after each win as an unbeatable force.

After the spanking of '07, did these same shallow "analysts" think that Rossi would then retake the next two titles? No, it was "the king is dead. Long live the king" then, just as it is now with Lorenzo.

Let's give it a bit more time - and a lot more thought - before declaring the end of wins for, really, a legend, who is only 31-32 (and if one is physically fit, and, more importantly, properly motivated, 32 is not at all too old), who, when healthy, is probably still the most competitive rider in the paddock.

Much understanding and truth are spoken in your words..
In sport, as in many aspects of life, motivation and experience is key at the highest level..
The Ducati is competitive, if lacking a win so far this year..the lift Rossis presence will give should not be under estimated.

Using the guide of the fastest lap each rider times in the race, Stoner has set the fastest lap twice, second fastest twice and third fastest laps twice..he's been on pole once at Qatar and set a new lap record at Laguna..Nickys been doing pretty well on the bike so far too..I'm not saying it's the best bike out there, but it's not that far away..Stoner has had a bit of drama with front end issues and there has been speculation as to his motivation, having made his mind up to ride for Honda very early.
Given the way he's riding, where do you think Jorge would be finishing on it?

Momentum is a major component of all sporting contests so I don't think it's fair to criticize people for jumping on and off of the bandwagon. Lorenzo has the momentum, Rossi does not. It's fair to assume that Lorenzo will carry an advantage into next season, not only b/c the Yamaha is so well sorted compared to the Ducati, but also b/c Lorenzo is entering the prime of his career while Rossi is leaving the prime of his career.

Reason is actually on the side of people who've jumped on the Lorenzo bandwagon. Perhaps they've gotten caught up in the moment, but their position is rationally defensible.

to discount the progress of Lorenzo. Anyone that was paying attention to his career would have been able to see that he would be ultra competitive in MotoGP right from the word go and just keep getting stronger. Spies is another example. After watching AMA for the past few years it wasn't too hard to guess he would win WSBK first year and then migrate to MotoGP. Next year he will be another of the aliens.

I think the Rossi fanboys sometimes get a bit blinkered and easily dismiss the talent in other riders. Rossi has been the best rider of the modern era and publicity wise he's been fantastic for the sport. He's not a god and there is quite a bit of talent coming through the ranks. I hope JB doesn't go to Ducati, and Rossi can make it all happen on his own, but I doubt he will win another world title now.... Rossi is full of surprises so you never know :)

I'm not a huge Lorenzo fan and not trying to play couch-analyst but this is the now in MotoGP so to base things off of trends of Rossi winning and losing in past seasons isn't the most accurate thing to do. The fact is that this year Rossi has only beaten Lorenzo 1 time in a race. Yep the greatest ever and he is the greatest ever imo has only beaten his teammate 1 single time on the same machine. Because of that I don't see Rossi going to a new team and onto a new bike he won't have much time to develop and be able to beat Lorenzo. Also Lorenzo has already had crashes and come back right away with confidence. Look at qualifying. Rossi and Lorenzo both crashed but one ran away with the race and the other had to work his way up from pretty far back to get 5th.

And what do you mean that Lorenzo isn't as "dominant" as Stoner in '07? Lorenzo has 2 more wins after 10 rounds already and the non wins were both second places. The 5 races Stoner didn't win in those 5 he had a 5th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, and 5th. So how does that qualify him as already being more dominant than Lorenzo so far this year again?

And btw I didn't declare anything, I just went out on a limb and predicted that i didn't think Rossi would pick up any wins next year. I could be wrong and he may come out in round 1 and win so don't take it so personally.

I could not agree more with you PD, for many of us that have been watching this for many years, myself being 32 i remember being a kid watching Mamola whillie that Lucky Strike bike and just got turned into motorcycles, specially after the death of my dearest Ayrton Senna, that caused my move from F1 to MotoGP, or GrandPrix of motorcycles like it was called before, much of us know for a fact that these couch potatoes do not know anything about racing beyond their noses.


So does that mean that "couch potatoes" should not be able to form an opinion on the state of racing and be able to express what they feel may happen in the year?

Don't hold your breath for any word on Burgess. Even the most well-informed sources in the paddock haven't got a clue what Burgess is doing. Probably won't find out until Valencia. 

Good comments PD, i concur. last year if not for Rossi, Jlo would also have run away with the title. this year the Doc is injured and Jlo has no one else to push him. the tracks that Rossi won at last year, this year there have been no incredible lap times being set by Jlo, just a lack of competition, such as Catalunya, Assen and Brno.

when Rossi joined Yamaha in '04 it was in worse state than Ducati is today and i strongly believe that for all his posturing Stoner isn't as motivated to win on the Duc as he would have us believe and i say this because of how soon he signed that contract with Honda.

Ducati is the most innovative manufacturer in Motogp and only need help to develop a good chassis with the Duc's other all round abilities.

yamaha will regret this decision to ask Rossi to take a pay cut for his rival to have an increase in salary, they should have sought extra sponsorship as they have to do now and raised Jlo's wage. this is the same as Honda in '03 undervaluing Rossi's contribution, with his development skills and still winning races, a great rider is to be an old bull and develop bike for young bull to win on, what a slap in face and insult to a great man.

Jlo looks good on a bike he has not developed but just added a little something to, lets see what happens when the ball is in his court. Toseland and Spies wanted to ride on a bike that Rossi was riding on for this purpose. the plot thickens, will Jlo develop the bike like Rossi so all can ride or will he now that he has Yamaha by short and curlies do like Stoner, we will see.

Good luck Vale, in ur new venture and may the Italian gods smile on u as always, VALE the G O A T.

but I also think Lorenzo's season is more impressive than you say. First or second in every race - even Stoner in 2007 didn't manage that.
And it's better than being 1 in-form rider against 3 out-of-form riders. Pedrosa for one is having as good a year as he's had in Motogp and while Rossi and Stoner are having problems, someone's always having problems. None of Rossi's championships was won against three other riders riding like Lorenzo has ridden this year. Or anyone else's championships I can think of.

It will be great to see how they combine (Ducati & VR) and I am sure there will be plenty of wins to come. Rossi is driven and he has his sights set on another record so I have no doubt he will eventually prevail. Maybe he can also teach Nicky some Italian to make things a bit smoother all round :-)

JLo is having a good year "for sure" but it would be really interesting to see what happens in a race if he is stuck behind a few more riders for a bit longer than one or two laps. So far he has been able to get clean air pretty early on from memory and then capitalised on that (I will begrudginly admit he does that well). If a few of the others could drag their sorry butts in front of him or really pressure him for a bit longer I think he would prove to be just as fallible as anyone else.

BTB what is happening with the Fiat sponsorship for Yamaha next year?

Maybe together Nick and Valentino can learn some more english too!

97% kidding of course. I like both riders and I am a big Ducati fan so I think that this is great for the class.

How short memories are of our arm chair hero's

Anton Mang In 1987 became 250cc World Champion for the third time with 8 consecutive victories. At 38, he was the oldest World Champion in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing history.

All I don't particularly like Rossi I would never disregard him winning he is proberley the finest rider ever......

He's not silly remember when he rode the RCV211 for Honda he follow Max Biaggi & Careless chuckit for many laps in practice and racing he knew the bike was not a dog and just needed some serious thinking about and adjustment remember Biaggi still won on it....

If he really is that good then sign up with Suzuki that really is a pile of shite........

an all aussie comeback. burgess to honda to take care of stoner - makes total sense - plus i grew up in australia & hence believe this is the aussie way, just as vale has the italian job going on.

italians & aussie get on famously, by the way & chuck in livio suppo & that burgess is from adelaide - a particularly italian city in south australia - & things make sense - maybe only to an aussie, but they make sense! :)

i see vale seriously kicking butt & maybe racing until he is nearly 40.

jLo is awesome & pedrosa pushed him hard & he killed him - jLo is NOT to be underestimated - however, i can see him being like rossi & moving teams when he feels trapped/compromised ....

mostly i see stoner perhaps taking off again with the title in 2011. he rode that 990 rcv211 like a scalded cat & i think the current rcv212 has similar attributes to the initial iteration of the 800 desmo. he'll know how to ride it & burgess will make it compliant.

lastly, rossi will make the ducati sublime, as i feel its main problem is the carbon chassis & particularly, the swingarm; too stiff & reactive.

So, whats ROSSI going to do one third of the way through 2012?

What team and mind games will he be playing then?

Far too many column inches devoted to this guy...

gearsau? where oh where have you been the last 14 years? If people dont like it become a fan of nascar, because VR is MOTOGP.

...his move is very redolent of 2003.. many just were perplexed to see him move from the best bike to a mid many ways this is so similar.I do hope he can make the duke more competitive. I do see stoner is just finishing his contract this year. I dont think he is pushing hard now. eg in qualifying he used to go out right at start and set the gate. Now he seems unwilling to take any risks. He will be stronger next year at Honda though . Dani is not consistent , has been so for last 2 yrs. Rossi has had this year a season like lorenzo had last year - dogged with injury. So I do feel lorenzo has had the advantage this year- the M1 is probably the best bike, competition this yr is not as strong as last 2 yrs. He is a great racer, but I do see this year like stoners in 07..too much a case of winning the race in the first 2 laps, getting clear then the race is effectively over.When Rossi and lorenzo actually came head to head on equal terms- thats when the racing was truly great. This year its too one sided, and I feel the racing has suffered.
I do hope Rossi gets stronger quickly to give us some great racing to finish the season. BUT ..I doubt Yam will be supporting his bike now, I bet he gets none of the updates which Lorenzo will get. As such I see the rest of the season being a bit boring as lorenzo will probably just romp away with just dani mounting any challenge till he gets his honda contract confirmed.
So in many ways, yet again, what happens to Rossi totally affects how the moto GP season pans out !

I fully acknowledge Rossi's accomplishments at Yamaha. However, times have change, and the context is completely different. In 2004, Rossi was facing Hayden and Barros on the Repsol, and Biaggi, on the Camel Honda. It wasn't easy by any means but these guys are not Lorenzo or Stoner. In 2007, Ducati and Bridgetones caught everyone by surprise, and Stoner took full advantage of it. A lot people believe that year was a fluke... maybe. This year, where equipment is out of the equation, Rossi is getting pushed and beaten by his teamate. Rossi's injuries may or may not have something to do with it. Talent wise I think Lorenzo and Stoner are right up there with Rossi. At this point, I think Rossi's development skills and consistency are his only edge over these guys. As for a lack of competition to Lorenzo, I don't buy it. He's racing the same guys as last year...he just crash less.

Here is what will happen.

Because Rossi has not announced Burgess is coming to Ducati too, It won't happen. When he switched to Yamaha it was a "package deal".
This time Rossi would have liked Burgess to go too but would not have made it a deal breaker. Main reason : He would like to say that he didn't need the best bike OR the best crew to win !
Burgess would like to go to Ducati but not at any price (it would be a big job AGAIN). Honda needs him and Honda is his home and he will return.
What does this all mean? IMHO :
1. Rossi will never win a Motogp title again
2. Honda will win the title in 2011...12...
3. Rossi will leave Ducati at the end of 2012 to race for......Ducati WSB

All very predictable

Actually it wasn't a package deal. Not only was Burgess staying with Honda but he asked to run Hayden's garage. Imagine how different the world would be had that happened. But, Honda said "no", then "we'll thing about it", then "yes". By that time Burgess had grown impatient and signed on with Yamaha and Rossi.

I do not think he'll go back to Honda now. Burgess is like a rider in that he puts his love of his craft above all others. Why else initially let Rossi go and try and stay at Honda only to leave in the end. No, my prediction is that he'll stay on with Yamaha and some how work with Spies. Maybe I'm wishing to hard but Burgess I don't think needs Rossi to be happy in what he does. He needs talent he believes in. If he likes Spies and thinks he's the real deal, maybe we'll find him in Spies' garage. I know Spies will bring his own team, but even they wouldn't push Burgess out IMO.

Rossi cannot beat Lorenzo on the same bike, he knows it. He knows his only chance against the youngster is to have a bike that performs better at some point on the track. Having a bike that is the same as his rival is not going to cut it. He needs a bike a bike that may not be better overall, but with some advantage that he can exploit (top speed, brakes, corner speed, etc). It is the only way. If he gets it, look for more races like Laguna last year where he busted up Stoner, only Lorenzo with be the recepient...

Lorenzo is no pedrosa or stoner if Rossi try that shit he did at Laguna Lorenzo will stuff it straight back underneath......remember watching him on his Aprillia RSV250 against prisoners......

Hear we go again! Rossi isn't up to much Stoner and Lorenzo are the new kings. Casey has won once in about 9 years in the motgp arena. They have both raced Rossi on the same kit they are on this season the last two seasons and Rossi has come out on top both times(one season for JLO as on michies,but Rossi won first year on bridgestone against a more dominant rider). Rossi won the first race, and got a training injury just after, since then he's ridden injured every race. I am struggling to see any connection between this series of events and Rossi finally passing the crown to the new upstart. Jlo only has one competitor(Stoner, and DP weren't contenders last year either) and he beat him last year. Rossis main injury was a shoulder injury motocrossing, careless I know, but it does not in anyway suggest a shift in power. Or Rossi making mistakes under pressure or 99.9% of the things suggested. Jlo will win a worthy championship if he doesn't keep falling off, you can get injured doing that if you are unlucky........

Looking forward to the rest of the season being competitive, the similarities between 2003 and now are frightening and every little dig yam give Rossi will only make him come back harder...

Could it be that the bond between Rossi and Burgess is not as strong as it used to be? It seems like for Burgess the arrival & rise of Lorenzo was less of a problem than for Rossi (like when he said when Rossi protested to Lorenzo's arrival: 'That's not for him to decide'). Burgess would have been fine staying with Yamaha. Rossi jumps ship, Burgess might feel he is being put under pressure to join him. He might not like that.
The guy is 57. Going to Ducati is going to cost him dearly in time and energy. He would be the au-pair in an Italian family.
I don't think he will join Rossi.