At Last Rossi Speaks: On His Shoulder And Riding The Ducati

The moment that MotoGP fans have been waiting for since June last year, when the rumors of his switch to Ducati first emerged, has finally arrived. Valentino Rossi today appeared before the press at the annual Ducati Wrooom! event, held in the Italian skiing resort of Madonna di Campiglio, free at last to talk about his move to Ducati.

The move itself was barely discussed, though. The two big topics Rossi talked about to the press on Tuesday were the state of his shoulder and his experience riding the Ducati Desmosedici. On both subjects, the news was rather mixed, Rossi expressing both his concern about both the bike and his shoulder, as well as his hope that both would improve.

Perhaps the most worrying news was Rossi's revelation that his shoulder is taking longer to heal than expected. Rossi had hoped to be fully fit by the start of testing, on February 1st at Sepang, but the recovery from the surgery he underwent to fix the problem appears to be a more lengthy process. Speaking to the Italian press, Rossi stated that he did not expect to be back at 100% until early May, despite working constantly with his physiotherapist and in the swimming pool on his physical rehab. "When the surgeons who operated on me opened up the shoulder, they saw that it was worse than expected," Rossi said, meaning the repairs needed were more extensive, requiring a longer recovery period.

Rossi also explained why he had decided against having surgery on his shoulder after he broke his leg at Mugello. "I would have been stuck in bed, and unable to walk using crutches," Rossi told the press conference. The prospect of not riding for three months while the season was underway was not one that Rossi could face, and so he elected to defer surgery until the end of the year. The next opportunity would have been after the Australian Grand Prix in October, but that would have meant missing the last two races of the 2010 season, as well as getting his first taste of the Ducati after the Valencia GP.

That first contact with the Desmosedici had been a difficult and intimidating experience. The bike required a completely different style to the Hondas and Yamahas which Rossi had spent the last ten season on. It needed a more "dirty" style, Rossi said, "it needs to be ridding with your fingernails, your claws," a huge contrast to the more rideable Hondas and Yamahas Rossi rode previously.

And making the Desmosedici more rideable was the first priority that Ducati will be focusing on. Rossi said he wanted to make the bike feel better, to allow him to trust the bike more, without sacrificing the advantage the Desmosedici already had. The Ducati was "brutally fast" Rossi said, but it also felt "risky" to ride. The aim was to change the bike to make to make it more pliable and consistent, making it feel the same from beginning to end. Part of that change had to come from his own riding, Rossi acknowledged. "I'm also going to have to trust the bike and change also my riding style so that I can exploit to the maximum this bike," Rossi said.

Part of those changes revolve around making the front end of the bike more flexible. Ohlins are already working on new forks for the bike, Ducati team manager Vito Guareschi told writer and Eurosport commentator Toby Moody. The forks are a "halfway house" between the forks used by Ducati in 2008 and 2010, with a 42 mm diameter, adding a little bit of flex into the bike. But the new Ohlins were not alone; the forks are part of a revised "flex package" being worked on by Ducati Corse Director Filippo Preziosi, which included new triple clamps, and a front subframe/airbox (the Ducati Desmosedici not using a traditional frame, but rather a combined airbox/subframe unit connecting the front forks to the engine, which is a load-bearing part of the bike). More flex in the front end should provide more feedback to the riders, allowing them to feel when the front end is losing grip, and making the bike easier to turn. 2010 saw especially Casey Stoner, but other Ducati riders as well, suffer a number of seemingly inexplicable front end crashes, and a more compliant front end should reduce this problem to more manageable proportions.

Reading between the lines of what the various protagonists have said so far, it seems that Ducati is already pulling out all the stops on transforming the Desmosedici into a different bike, contrary to what Ducati CEO Gabriele del Torchio told the press back in Brno, when he announced that Rossi would be joining Ducati. Jerry Burgess is already spending a lot of time at the Bologna factory, bringing his experience with the Japanese factories to bear to the relatively tiny Italian manufacturer. The abundance of new sponsors' stickers (including Italian insurer Generali, Mercedes' performance brand AMG, and Italian clothing brand Diesel) adorning the Ducati bear witness to the selling power that Rossi brings to the factory. But that money demands success, and Ducati will have to dig deep to provide Rossi with the tool he needs to win.

For the full interviews with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, head on over to's MotoGP section. To hear Rossi speak in Italian, check out, or watch the Youtube video (featured below) also made by

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I'm not privvy to the GP11 revisions,but Burgess alluded to the rear end as the problem. Traditionally,Ducati pivot the swingarm off the engine casing. I presume this is still the case. Building more flex into the package will be 'a little here and a little there'. No genius engineer can build 'flex' into the engine casings within current reason.
Stressed,rigid,basic Ducati chassis it remains. L-4,low C of G it remains.
Maybe I'm way off track,but the fundamentals of the bike are something the rider will have to adapt to rather than the other way around.
With the limited testing available,Valentino and Nicky will have to just 'wring its neck' and do the 'Chuck Jaeger' thing as very aptly pointed out last year by Krop.
Somehow fancy RdP/Karel Abraham as being more capable of it.Preziosi also alluded to it.
Old Capirex will do it for sure. The original Ducati 'bucking bronco' tamer from 990 days.
The sponsorship is there,the expectation is there.So is the culture shock. Especially for Rossi.This is not 2004 revisited.
No doubt Valentino's shoulder is a worrying factor for him and the team.
Tongue in cheek... With all that money,perhaps they can develope a handlebar shock controlling 'load cell shoulder transmission',to adjust load transfer through the front end under braking. Seriously,he's just going to have to ride it.
Ride it he will,succeed on it,even mid season,I'm sceptical.

...because at the GP11 it will also affect the engine design and I seriously doubt that the Dukes will change the engine spec this late in the winter break.

IMO the front end seems as the only option to make big changes, but big changes have the problem that they will screw up the whole balance of the bike as well as subtle things with regards to getting the tires working...

To me it seems they're in a high risk gamble.

The way I understand it..they are concentrating on the front of the bike, to make it more compliant when banked over which translates to 'feel', the lack of which was Stoners main gripe last year.

The GP10 doesn't have a conventional frame but two subframes, front and rear connected by the engine, which is a stresed member of the chasis. The front frame is formed to connect the engine to the steering head and also incorporates the air-box in one single construction.
The rear subframe or 'seat support' carries, as its name suggests, the rider, foot controls and swingarm, which no longer pivots in the engine cases like the original GP3.
All this is constructed of Carbon Fibre, which allows engineers to experiment with stiffness in various planes..up/down, side to side and torsional or twist by altering the way the CF is 'layed-up' changing thickness and weave patterns they can play around with rigidity.

It sounds like they will be bringing a 'softer' spec front subframe to Sepang, along with a smaller diameter, less rigid front forks and milled triple the hope the front will relay more feedback to Rossi..making it easier to find where the limit of traction is for the tyre.

Interesting read! My concern here is his shoulder. I've HAD a shoulder injury + surgery . . . and if you've had it done, talked to your 'mechanic', and looked at what is holding the whole thing together. this injury could really be the 'beginning of the end' of his career.

Now, all you Rossi-haters out there in cyberland, I"m not making excuses here . . . just stating a fact. I'm 'hoping' that he can return to full form and we can have a hell'eva 2011/2012 race season!

I concur with the above as an Athelete (former) I had many many knee, shoulder etc injuries.

Knees move back and forth - shoulders move in so many directions that they're extremely difficult to rehab.

Further, this is a tendon injury, very poor blood flow to tendons so they strengthen / Heal veeerrry slowly (though I would imagine he's been in the hyperbaric chamber to help with this).

Then again he could be bluffing. But I doubt it.

Interesting thought - what if Hayden consistently beats Rossi? Hard to think about but going in - I would say this is a real possiablity.

I just hope Stoner doesn't run away with it all - we've had enough Yawn fests over the past couple of years.

on the a steak dinner!! Though I'm a big Rossi Fan - I am picking Lorenzo to win it all (my buddy is picking stoner).

Lorenzo is tough mentally - I think he has the bike etc. Further, I think he's po'd that people question the legitmacy of his championchip. I don't think bike development is going too be a factor for Yamaha this year - it's already fast.

Weird that Rossi is the Dark Horse / unknown this year would love to see him win - but it looks too shaky to predict.

I hope we have great racing but I fear that Casey could run away with it all - on his day he's the fastest- he just does not have enough of them.

Would love to hear the predictions of others too (how many races does Spies Win - I say 2).

Let the year commence already!!

I love that Ducati is finally addressing the chassis problems of this beast. The chief beneficiary will be Hayden who has been dealing with this thing for a couple of whining, no blame, no complaints, just working away trying to make it work. Ducati has been badly served by the fact that Stoner can apparently ride anything to its absolute limits. I guess they sent Melandri to a shrink. Now they know the problems, and if Rossi can't finish at or near the top the spotlight will be on Ducati.

My prediction: Hayden will finish the year substantially ahead of Rossi. It's going to be fun to watch. I expect Stoner to decimate the field with the easy to ride Honda

'IF', and that is a big if, Rossi's shoulder is OK, he'll be faster/finish ahead of Hayden. Hayden is a class act, always has been and I'd love him to win a few races this year, but . . . Rossi developing the bike will help Hayden alot! Lorenzo has alot to prove to everyone that 2010 wasn't a fluke, BUT a healthy Stoner + a blindingly fast Honda stands in his way, regardless of whether he's the current WC or not!

I'm not sure if Spies is gonna win a race . . . he might. He needs to be up front w/the alien group and finish on the podium consistently and then worry about winning races. He's still approximately .5 sec behind 'the group'.

My buddy has taken Lorenzo . . . I have Stoner . . . filet dinner on the line!

Lorenzo has nothing to prove to anyone in all fairness. He scored the most points ever in a season and dominated most sessions, never mind races (of which he won 9). When you get 16 podiums and two 4ths, that ain't a fluke buddy!

My money is on Stoner too though

He had a fantastic season indeed. However, if there is one thing he needs to prove, it's his capability to continue to develop the M1 over the course of a season. Yamaha has to start on the front foot in 2011, and stay there, if they want to challenge Stoner/Honda for the championship. And I'm sure they know it - the Honda is peaking now and Stoner will be out for blood after three fruitless years with the recalcitrant Ducati.

For sure. He always had the speed, he now has the consistency and if he can keep the Yamaha ahead of the pack this year, he has a great chance of a double.

I think he did a fine job with the yamaha last year though, he was on his own for most of last year in the factory team and the yamaha was still the best bike at the end. Casey and the honda are looking so strong though

Remember when Rossi injured his shoulder and what results achieved with this injury.

All went well until the Mugello, right? The real problem last year was a broaken leg, not injured shoulder.

Also, I think that Rossi was not seriously injured (shoulder) during the first test. I am convinced of that. See the results of the last four races. He was the first in Malaysia, third in Australia, second in Portugal and third in Valencia ...

If the injury was so severe how could he achieve such results?

As I understand it, his problem now is post op recovery. You may hear this or that racer is all healed up after a similar operation but they are also much younger. You can't wish something healed. It's healed when it is healed.

Ducati have their work cut out for them. They got everything they asked for now they have to deliver. Like Honda, Ducati are strong minded and won't just go to a regular frame that has worked for decades. I am not smart enough to see the sense in their logic. But on the other hand I never count Rossi out. good luck to them all.

With two injuries last year the leg healed very quickly due to the Ti rod they inserted (much different than Ligament damage). I remeber seeing multiple qutoes on this early last summer that it was really his shoulder. He stayed quiet on this so as not to give his competetion a leg up (this is speculation on my part).

As to the test last Novemeber - here's a quote from Alex Briggs.

On Wednesday 10th November 2010, @Alex__Briggs said:

H guys. I'm compleatly smashed, I have not worked that hard @ a test for a few years. Accomplished a lot. Result was crap but not representative of what we have learnt. The poor old rider was compleatly stuffed also. Big part of the time was just the riders body letting him down. But we kept lapping & testing. End result is the engineers have a long 2 do list courtesy of us! But they r the best guys. Its going 2 be fun. At yamaha I guess in the end I felt like we just were tuning. At Ducati I feel we are really working. Its going 2 be great 2 see the end result. May the force be with us

From Jerry Burgess:

>>The main problem was his shoulder and the data showed that his braking distances had become longer in the race because of this,” said Jeremy Burgess, Rossi’s chief engineer, after the MotoGP Grand Prix of France.

“Therefore, he was getting into the corners slower and then using the throttle more on the exit, and that gave him this initial feeling of lack grip and acceleration.”

Rossi - as a highly paid athelete with access to the best care, not to mention the aderline that acompanies a race could over come this for a short period of time, on a bike he built and knew the chracteristics of very well. Obviously the Duc takes more effort to ride and without familarity and power in his shoulder one can understand, to some degree, the difficulties he had.

At the end of the day none of us know if any of this is 100% accurate or 100% head game or some other point in between. I hope Rossi does very well this year and over comes but there are a number of obsticales in the way. I love Rossi, but he's going to have a tough year - but no one knows for sure what the future holds or what's fact, fiction or hyperbole...that's why they race.

“The main problem was his shoulder and the data showed that his braking distances had become longer in the race because of this,” said Jeremy Burgess, Rossi’s chief engineer, after France.

“Therefore, he was getting into the corners slower and then using the throttle more on the exit, and that gave him this initial feeling of lack grip and acceleration.”

"If the injury was so severe how could he achieve such results?"

............ determination and RARE TALENT.

It leaked out that racing made his shoulder ache - he was observed protecting his shoulder.

I well remember Phillip Island '10. In the final couple of laps Hayden overtook VR at Honda/C4, the hairpin righthander: there was no question in my mind - the helicopter shot showed VR much increased his breaking distance running wide allowing Nicky through. My imediate reaction was there is the shoulder 'in action.'

Remember he crashed three times in one weekend in '10 !!!!

And JB this week (translated) >>

" Of course, this did not help Valentino was already in crisis in recent races, let alone in conditions that could be Tuesday and Wednesday after the end of the season. "

" But rather than technical, I think now the problem is human: we must wait for nature take its course. "

My impression is JB is not much into PR shennanigans so his words are weighty, realistic and insightful.

I doubt Burgess and Rossi are bluffing.

I doubt it too - but rossi did go snow boarding today, and in the interview with Toby Moody - he mentioned the presure was already mounting - so if he is bluffing it's just away to manage expectations.

I just hope he's very competitve this year and we can have some great racing. But I don't know for sure just like everyone else but Rossi himself.

To the former athletes, myself being one, do we really think that we were so good that we got the best of the best of the best when it comes to rehab? We werent world class. The Rossis of motogp, the Derek Jeters of MLB, the Sidney Crosbys of the NHL, the LeBron James of the NBA, the Tom Bradys of the NFL, ALL have access to rehab that we dont have. Lets not kid ourselves here. The man returned after 41 days, less than 6 weeks after breaking his leg.

Ive been fooled by Rossi before, when I didnt like him. But he has grown on me and Im not counting him out. He is the best both on the track and in the mind games. The grid best beware next year. There is nothing more dangerous than an old dog with some fight. More importantly an old dog who has something to prove...

It was amazing to watch rossi come back so quickly from the broken leg. BUT that was Due to Ti rod they put in his leg no ligment damage. The Rod literally took the place of the bone.

Unfortunately there are no Ti parts for a tweaked ligaments in a shoulder! To add to this - from the sounds of it, it's not a very common injury like say an ACL tear. I.E they don't have much data as too how long the rehab might take.

I do agree, that my care may not have been quite as good as Rossi's BUT I worked very hard at rehab and it still took six months (I had surgery for a freqently dis-locating shoulder - I would think the only thing different for me was access to hyerbaric chamber). To me, the dynamic is the ligiment damage and how slowly they heal due to the blood flow (or lack there of - through a ligment). Perhaps, Melandri and Cructhlow's injuries will be a good bench mark for this?

I don't think you're being a dick - I love this board! The rhetoric is at a bare minimum. I am not a doctor just a guy that's had half a dozen sports and auto injuries and trying to apply some common sense. Love to hear others thoughts on this.

"Speaking to the Italian press, Rossi stated that he did not expect to be back at 100% until early May . . . ."

Classic mind trick by the master.

I think Hayden is going to be strong this year! I think he's got the fire and the drive! I guarantee a Hayden victory this year. Still, my money is on Stoner this year, he was fast on the Honda straight out the box. And did you see him after the testing? Guy never looked happier, ear to ear. If he could perform so well on such a fickle bike he's really gonna shine on the Honda.
Gotta say I'm still really excited about team Ducati. All the excitement and press and what its doing for the sport, the pressure is certainly on and they'll be competetive.

A slightly non sporty outlook---As we live our life we always find some people special...there is something very different about them from others....these people would most probably excel in many things they set out to do.... where an ordinary person will be happy in excelling at one thing......the same with Rossi...forget bikes ...give this guy a formula 1,a super bike with a broken leg and shoulder injury...a rally car....he still manages to create times that are astounding....many people will think that 2010 was not Rossi year...but believe was a great year for comeback and win his 46th race with Yam.(he has been nominated as the greatest comeback sportsperson by laureaus for 2010)..nature made sure he gets that 46 race wins..his favourite number.....he is special...and very special...and he is gods favourite..he will win many more races in 2011 and beyond

Rossi is the Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Tiger Woods of this era of racing -he trancends the sport. He demands to win. He's the reason I got so damn hooked on Motogp.

If everyone were like Stoner or Lorenzo and Pedrosa (off the bike) this sport would be more boring than it has been over the past couple years (save for a few races each Year). Still VR has the largest challenges of his career ahead of him... Though I hate being duped, I would not mind at all if Rossi clears the board and was bluffing with all of this.

Like the poster before you stated, it was VR that got them hooked on Motogp; me, too. But I look at all of them, who, for the most part, are generally 15 years my junior as my heros - one and all. They all have gifts (a larger set of nuts included), but I do agree that VR breathes some pretty rare air.

That said, I fear the long list of those abused by the Duc would indicate that he is being forced to hedge his bets early on. I posted a few weeks ago that the Duc had ruinied several people and got a response back that only in the 800 era was it an abuser. That is not the case - since they started running in early 2000's it has always been about frontend feel for the Ducati. And, like sending Marco to a shrink, they just continued to churn through talent.

This is their Waterloo. After pulling from WSBK because of perceived unfairness, only after being the beneficiaries of those rules when they worked for them, they had better get this right. Sexyness will only sell bikes for so long.

While they have become just as good at branding and marketing as Harley, they need to be winning. Do they think that satellite teams in WSBK is going to push bikes off of the dealership floor? They have the rider. They need to adapt.

Speaking of which, I may be picking a red one up for the track season.... GO VALE!

Spies for President

Rehabbing his shoulder in the pool? No wonder it's taking so long. If the goal is to regain strength, shouldn't he be doing some resistance training?

Mbccohen. Mind tricks - on who and how? Do you think Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa et al have read this and gone 'ah well that's Rossi out until May - no need to worry about him' Please! They all know they're at least Rossi's equal on the track. These so called mind games only work on contributors to sites like this!

For all Rossi and JB's set-up genius I would like to think that if Stoner was still in the red camp that both Ducati and Ohlins would be going down exactly the same route that they are now given the difficulties Stoner suffered in reading when the front was going to fold on the GP10.

Rossi's shoulder is as many have quite rightly asserted a post op healing problem. There were races last year where the shoulder just wasn't a problem full stop - so said the man himself. As for testing on the Duke at Valencia, I think the shoulder problem was over blown then. Most testing is merely short bursts of 4-5 laps then into the box. He managed a full G.P the day before and stuck it on the podium. Bursts of a few laps shouldn't have been a problem. The problem was the sudden realisation of the mammoth task ahead of him to adapt to the raw Duke. The quote of not being 100% right until May is merely an insurance job for him should results not come in the early part of the season. But hey Rossi courted this challenge. Let's see if he's up for it.

Great comment. I do agree that "not being 100% right until May is merely an insurance job for him should results not come in the early part of the season." As for the mind games, I think Rossi is just trying to lower expectations. Rossi sums it best in saying that he and Ducati(the bike) have to meet halfway. Otherwise, he'll only be a podium finisher every now and then. His competitors will not get slower- au contraire. Every step the opponents' package take, Rossi/Ducati have to take two.

you answered with your own comment

He managed a full G.P the day before and stuck it on the podium.

a full GP, and two more days of warmup before that, after a nice break between races is a little different than testing directly after said racing. Recovery is a fun thing. Combined with no prizes for 'winning' and only more potential damage for crashing with a weakened shoulder. Yeah, running 4-5 high stress laps is worth it huh.

Even if there is nothing tangible to win, he can still try and mess with others. I don't know what the real situation is, if he expects to be 100% at May, Febuary or never, but he'll always go for whatever edge possible. That's Rossi to me and I'll always beware him on track.

As for that dinner, I'm with Stoner.

Those who think VR is playing mind games to lower expecations - hey he's done that (for me) .........

VR "Today, the shoulder mechanically works, but I do not have the entire range of movement to fit within the faring on the straight. To get low behind the windscreen, that's what I have to work on so that on February 1st I can at least be capable of having the right position on the fairing and be able to drive."

Sandbagging ? I think he would be too easily found out.

I'm anxious as my friend who injured his shoulder still isn't 100% a lot more than 6 months on (I suspect there will be many unanswered questions after Sepang Feb 1).

I found this - sounds like vale's shoulder is not so bad after all?

I guess will see when they test and race?

"Skiing helped me," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I felt the need for it after spending the winter without doing anything."

Rossi said he had planned to only briefly participate in the kart and Fiat 500 races on a frozen lake that concluded Wrooom on Friday, but instead he contested both in full, and finished second behind Fernando Alonso in the Fiat 500 contest.

"At one point the vertebrae told me 'you can't do that'. I'll just do two race laps and that's it," said Rossi.

"In the car it was easier compared to the kart. The shoulder hurt a bit just on the bumps. I feel pain if I try to raise my arm, not when I drive or ride the snowboard."

The Italian now wants to make the most of the next fortnight to improve his fitness for the three-day Sepang test.

"In the next two weeks I will work full-time to try to be in good form at Sepang," Rossi said. "Strength isn't much of a problem: what needs to improve is the arm movement, especially when I need to raise it and when I need to crouch on the bike.

"I count on what the doctors have said, that the more time goes by, the quicker is the recovery. We are on schedule, in fact a bit ahead than predicted. Let's hope it's enough."

I got no steak dinners riding on it, but my money is on Stoner this year. Finally free of that crappy Italian chassis he can put all his speed to good use. I think he's gonna tear it up from the get go. My question is whether the Duc will win a race this season. Dont think Ben will get there yet. I think Lorenzo will offer a minor challenge before going back to his crashing ways. I reckon Pedrosa will crack under the pressure of his team mate upstaging him race after race. Look for him to crash a lot.

Not for the first time I find myself disagreeing with Nostradamus. Is this guy in a club of one thinking Rossi is in fact not the master of mind games. If you ask anyone covering MotoGP, anyone following the sport the past decade, anyone in the paddock they'll tell you the opposite. Rossi is the undeniable universally recognised master of mind games. Whether Stoner et al are affected or bothered by it is neither here nor there, as the games go on regardless. And while were less effective on Lorenzo than they were on Sete, you can bet it won't stop Rossi from trying them.

And talking of mind games, who remembers back at.....was it Indy GP last year I think, when Stoner and Rossi had that public spat via the Italian press. Rossi accused Stoner of not riding the Ducati to its limit, Stoner retorted Rossi was already making excuses for next (this) year. Kind of amusing to look back over those words, and listen to Rossi now making excuses (if you see it like that) for the start of the season. He's a great guy and all, but after talking all that smack about Stoner on the Duc he'd better bring it. Time to put up or shut up Vale, and no lame excuses sunshine.

We'll see in a couple of weeks how much progress the Duccy engineers made with that chassis. Would love to hear an honest opinion from Melandri and Stoner about all this newfound commitment to fixing the almost binary (it works/it doesnt work) front end. How come they didnt recommend Vale see a shrink. Doesnt this validate ALL those complaints that fell on deaf ears.

When the larger female is crooning come November Stoner will be having the last laugh