Valentino Rossi's litany of complaints about the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 given live on Italian TV after the Qatar round of MotoGP triggered a wave of speculation. For the first time, Rossi had openly complained that Ducati had not given him the bike that he believes he needs to go fast, and that he had felt like pulling in before the end of the race. That, combined with an interview Rossi also did with the Italian magazine Motosprint in which he implied that Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi was failing to provide the help that he and the other Ducati riders needed caused a massive reaction throughout the media and across the web.
Some reaction was amusing, such as the Downfall parody on Youtube, discussing Rossi's poor qualifying at Qatar. Others were more serious, including an article on the Spanish website Motocuatro.com suggesting that Rossi could try to get out of his contract before the year was over and wait for 2013, when, the article suggested, he could obtain a satellite Yamaha M1 to compete with, with the blessing of Dorna. Rumors quickly started to grow that Rossi's relationship with Ducati could be over, and sooner than anyone expected.
Ducati moved slowly to counter the reports, CEO Gabriele del Torchio telling the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that it was "too early to talk of a divorce". But the waiting was for a response from Valentino Rossi himself.
That finally came today, at Monza, where Rossi is competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series with his best friend Alessio "Uccio" Salucci. Italian TV presenter Valerio Stafelli presented Rossi with a "Tapiro d'Oro", a satirical prize for well-known Italians who have good reason to be sad (the tapir's long face is said to make it look sad), and Rossi seized the opportunity to announce on TV that he was intending to stay with Ducati, and no divorce was imminent. "I am very 'attapirato' [I have a very long face - MM] because with this Ducati, I cannot be competitive," Rossi told TV host Stafelli. "I can't ride at 100%, and the others are all very fast."
But he would not be giving up any time soon, Rossi said. "We will keep trying at every race," he told Stafelli, "We will not give up." As for all the talk of a split with Ducati, Rossi denied any idea of leaving. "I will stay with Ducati. We will do everything we can to make the pairing of Rossi and Ducati function successfully."
For a considered view of the Rossi/Ducati situation, and the possible permutations of Rossi's future, we recommend you read Dennis Noyes' take on the situation over on the Speed TV website.