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Why Ducati and Rossi Will Make Poetry


Wayne Rainey described an out-of-body experience when he was so totally in the zone on his race bike that his timing and his lines were perfect.  Rossi has talked about the same type of zone, and referred to it as making a “poem” on his motorcycle. 

By hiring Valentino, Ducati not only gains, perhaps, the greatest rider of all time, but much more.  The timing, as I will discuss, is also perfect, and Rossi can leave Ducati with a valuable legacy a few years down the road.

Nicky Hayden is an important part of this story.  Sure, Nicky has often struggled since engine displacement in MotoGP was limited to 800cc a few years ago.  He loved the power and the handling characteristics that went along with the 990cc motors, and it was during that era that he won his World title.  Nearly everyone agrees that the shift to 800cc benefited greatly the riders brought up on two-strokes, while making it more difficult for the riders developed in the United States on four-stroke machinery.  The heavier four-strokes, particularly at 1000cc, favored a point-and-shoot style of riding, rather than a 250cc GP-style where the riders carry higher mid-corner speeds and learn to push the front tire to its limits. 

You can bet that Nicky Hayden and Ben Spies are both chomping at the bit while awaiting the return of 1000cc bikes to the MotoGP grid in 2012. 

What does this have to do with Ducati’s signing of Valentino Rossi?  Plenty.  Rossi is a great rider, but equally great at developing machinery for his employer.  Having signed for two years, Rossi will be around to fully develop the 1000cc machinery that races in 2012.  This will give Ducati a huge advantage, of course, and help it exploit Nicky Hayden’s riding style.

Rossi, of course, can ride a motorcycle fast any way you choose.  He can win on a 1000cc bike as well as an 800cc bike.  Hayden is younger, of course, and Ducati no doubt realizes his riding style better suits the larger displacement bike arriving in 2012.


  1. motorcycle5 says:

    If nothing else, its a been pleasure following the sport during the Rossi era.
    For Valentino to change factories, again, will in the long term show him to be a true sportsman to the bone; someone to whom security means less than the passion of a challenge. Lorenzo could not have developed the Yamaha like Rossi/Burgess have done. And now Rossi decided to move on to something new. Whatever happens next year with him, Valentino will always be a giant.. not just because of one knack (like Doohan), but for the whole wacky fun-loving package.

  2. Tobias says:

    ”…the riders developed in the United States on four-stroke machinery”.

    Spies, Hayden and Edwards all raced twostrokes before the made it to Europe.

  3. Seattle Sedici says:

    The money maker comment is not for Rossi – its for Dorna – without something new and fresh the management know that revenues will fall. the Dream combination of Rossi on the quintessential italian bike in the premier racing series IS A MONEYMAKER. There are many forces out there but the pre-eminent one is money.

  4. Abso Lute Lee says:

    Change is good !

  5. LADucSP says:

    IMHO, you’re completely wrong. Rossi and Ducati are going to be at loggerheads from day 1. Rossi, though Italian, is an immensely smart and calculating rider, in addition to his phenomenal riding ability. He’s also regimented, exacting and calculating; all qualities that square with Japanese culture and mentality. He’s spent the majority of his racing career, particularly at the premier levels, with Japanese companies, where he’s obviously done pretty well!

    When he gets to Ducati, he’s going to expect and demand the same level of immediate, precision response and changes that he’s had from the Japanese.

    Ducati, much like Ferrari, is more about imposing the bike on their riders and making them work around it, bot the other way around. Sure, the rider’s feedback is great, and if they’re able to accommodate it along the way, great. But, they’re not developing specifically for it.

    Rossi is going to find this unacceptable, and I foresee a real potential culture clash.

    Using Ferrari again as the analogue, they paid Kimmi Raikkonen NOT to drive this year, even though he was the superior driver to Massa and won the championship for them too! But, they didn’t get along culturally. They should have binned Massa, and kept Kimmi when they wanted room for Alonso.

    I think the same sort of thing’s possible with Rossi and Duc. Professionally speaking, Rossi is more Japanese than Italian. That could be a problem. We’ll see.

    By the way, I own both a Ducati and a Yamaha, so either way I’m stoked.

    • Dave says:

      Michael Schumacher’s history is the opposite of what you’ve posted here. MS came in and told them what they needed to do. They did, and dominated. Ducati has already shown that they are working with the riders by changing the bike so that Casey Stoner wasn’t the only guy who could ride it.

      Like you said, Rossi is sharp and smart, I don’t think he’d have gone into this without assurance that he’ll have all the control he feels he needs.

  6. Dave says:

    Sorry for the double post, new to this. Thought my reply would be at the bottom.

  7. Dave says:

    Marlboro Ducati=Marlboro Ferarri F1?

    Hayden should do better on the bigger bike but he probably won’t go from top-5 to top-1. I think some of the 250cc converts from this year will step back down to make room for others that are doing very well on the new Moto2 bikes. 250 2s to 800 4s hasn’t been a good translation for some of them.

  8. Seattle Sedici says:

    Rossi, while being the G.O.A.T., is clearly slower while injured. It remains to be seen how his rehabilitation will proceed and if he will ever be in the same condition that he was in prior to his shoulder and leg injury. The shoulder is more difficult to rehab than the leg. As for the Ducati Rossi combination – its a match that all want to see but clearly it mostly a money maker…

    • Ruefus says:

      I’ll disagree with the money-maker part.

      Rossi could have mailed-it-in and taken the rest of the season to ‘recuperate’ since he’s out of the title chase. In basically a month, he came back, raced – and finished fourth.

      That’s not a person looking for a paycheck.

  9. Stinkfinger says:

    It will be fun to watch next year, as Lorenzo and Rossi, who don’t like each other and will no longer be teammates, likely
    will not feel the need to pull any punches. Lorenzo is the first real competitor that Rossi has had a contentious
    relationship with who has actually BEAT him (Rossi, killed the GP careers of Biaggi and Gibernau, and though Hayden and
    Stoner have beat him for the championship, he’s never had a very contentious relationship with them).

    Fun to watch indeed…. 🙂

  10. Justin says:

    A few points.

    1) The Ducati was unridable by anybody but Stoner until Hayden showed up. It’s put the bike in the top 5 quite a few times, something no Duc rider but Stoner could do before. Rossi doesn’t want to have to develop the bike from the ground up. Hayden has done that for him. It’s a more usable bike thanks to Hayden. So he’s been a HUGE part of this. Without Hayden’s development, the Duc isn’t as good a package and Rossi isn’t interested.

    2) Rossi developed the M1. Lorenzo has just ridden the thing. He’s ridden it quite well, but hasn’t had to do any development work. Next year, he’s got to help develop the bike. If he can’t do that, all the skill in the world won’t matter. Ask Dani Pedrosa.

    3) Those of you who have said Hayden only won because Rossi had problems…well, you’re probably right. But you’re discounting the fact that Hayden beat everybody, not just Rossi. And he did it while his own team and especially his teammate were pretty much doing everything in their power to ruin his chances. Seems that none of you remember Pedrosa torpedoing Hayden in the second to last race, which actually gave Rossi the points lead heading into the last race of the year. And Hayden still won.

  11. Jose Peter says:

    I always thought Rossi would have lapped the field if he was put on Stoner’s Duc a couple of years back; now that the Duc is more like a Duck, we have to wait and see where Rossi ends up next year. Nevertheless, Rossi being what he is; the Duc will definiteley be on the podium consistently and maybe a dream championship and a sequel to “What if…”

  12. al banta says:

    Rossi can win on anything given time.. To those who think Hayden won the championship on a fluke, well when you add up the points and consistency at the end of the year Nicky did it best.
    I bet Lorenzo will be champion at the end of 2011, and that Stoner, Spies and Rossi will be very close…

  13. Bob says:

    The question that most of you miss is this: Will Jeremy Burgis accompany Rossi to Ducati? And if not, will he retire or go on to tune someone else’s bike?

  14. Tim says:

    I look for Stoner to be the biggest challenge to Lorenzo next year. Honda seems to have it’s act together again. Now it is just a matter of getting a rider who is more consistent than the guys they have right now.

    Rossi still has the talent to win. To me he and Lorenzo are the two most talented guys on the grid, followed closely by Stoner. I’m just not optimistic of Ducati giving Valentino the machine he needs to win. But you never know…a couple of years ago they gave Stoner a machine that was dramitically faster than everything else.

    Lorenzo really has beautiful riding form. He’s the first guy to come along who can hang with Rossi on an equal machine (pre Rossi injury, of course.) Rossi’s riding style is exciting. Lorenzo’s style is so smooth it’s almost boring, until you realize he’s smoking the field.

  15. Curtis says:

    All this nonsense about Rossi being past his prime is exactly the same bilge people were spouting a couple years ago when Stoner ran away with it. Look at him now. The only one who’s able to show longevity is Rossi.

  16. Brendan says:

    Do you think Rossi will come back 100% from the leg break? He has had a dream run up until then. Will it place a small ? in his head. I hope not.

  17. erwin888ric says:

    It’s always nice to see Americans contending in the world stage. However, Nicky Hayden was never one of my favorites. He was impressive during his early AMA days but that was it. He won the championship in 2002 against Eric Bostrom who was competing on a bike that was literally seven years old. Then he got the MotoGP championship in 2006 when his main competition was having bike problems. His accomplishments are no cake walk but he does not have the talent to develop a bike fully. I wish him the best of luck but barring any other mishaps from Rossi, Stoner, Pedrosa or Lorenzo I don’t expect him to win another championship.

  18. Martin Berry says:

    This sort of article/opinion forgets that the “little guys” off their little 250s were fast from the get go on the 990s. Dani won the third race, having never been on a 4 stroke before and Casey was on pole on the second race – on a satelite bike. Makes you wonder what Spies has been up to this season.

  19. kpaul says:

    Have to agree with some that Nicky won’t make it to 2012. I agree his point shoot style is better suited for the bigger bikes but another mediocre season on the small bike will be bad news. Rossi can ride anything fast. Put him on 800 and Hayden on 990 Rossi would probably win. Remember Hayden won his championship when Rossi had bike problems.

  20. Artem says:

    Hmm. Rossi and Ducati is very interesting because it is new first of all. Wish Valentino the best of the best in new team. Concerning Yamaha. I don’t know why but I admire Lorenzo style of driving. So smooth and sometimes apearing like low-speed at the camera, yet very fast.

  21. troy collins says:

    Flash back……Braun dreamteam just finishes walking to world championship….Mercedes Benz BIG Buck’s and silver colors come along for 2010 MB puts Micheal Shumacher in the car…what could be better…should have been a no brainer

    But the 2010 has been a year of embarrassing damage control for Benz…the car is junk..Micheal has blotted his copybook to say the least….its been a blunder

    so much for the fairytale….

    Rossi will need Ducati to make a good package…AND only then can he perform….

    I’ll reserve judgment on this one….

  22. jimbo says:

    I love Rossi on any machine/any number of wheels. Wishing him all 1st place finishes till he retires! Am I blocking?

  23. Bob says:

    2011 will be all 800cc. 2012 is the first year to allow 1000cc machines.

    As for successful devolopment of the Ducati, nothing has been said of Burgess going with Rossi. And even if he does go to Ducati, will Ducati allow Burgess to do things his way? Ducati has their own ideas of how things should be done and like to control everything. I’m not sure that Burgess would be anything other than a figurehead in the pits with no real power.

  24. Philip says:

    Is Burgess staying with Yamaha? Some of Rossi’s development skills should be credited to the team he has had around him. Jerry Burgess has a history of making champions and I hope Spies gets to work with him if he stays with Yamaha. Rossi will win races for sure but strings of championships in a row I doubt will happen again.

  25. Wussboy says:

    Nicky Hayden is an important part of this story? Let me get this straight… Rossi just switched to Ducati, and Nicky Hayden is an important part of this story? Are you kidding? Nicky Hayden isn’t even a footnote on this story. Please, give the Hayden-love a rest.

    Maybe you are better off parroting stories from other sites, because your opinion pieces are pure drivel.

  26. MotoChris says:

    The factories will not be limited to 800cc, but 1000cc bikes will be limited to 81mm bores. That leads some to believe that the factories will stick with their 800cc machines.
    If Nicky needs Rossi to develop the machine for him, he’s no champion. And Colin Edwards should get the he11 out of MotoGP and make room for someone who actually has a chance to win. And wants to win. Colin’s there just for the paycheck. Rant over.

  27. 20V says:

    I think the factories can use 1000cc engines but there will be a claiming rule so that a privateer can buy one at a predetermined price.

  28. Tom says:

    Nicky Hayden couldn’t win on 990 (apart from Laguna) I hardly think he will be a tour de force when the 1000 cc bikes come back. The fast guys are fast on anything.

  29. Patrick D says:

    I wouldn’t count on Nicky haden being at Ducati for another two years. It doesn’t appear that he will ever win a race again, and factory teams don’t hang onto riders like that for long.

  30. Steve says:

    I believe this is the last year for the 800cc machines…


    Ducati Superbikes are struggling in AMA & WSB… they say the Duc was
    “years ahead” of the 4 cylinder liter bikes for the past couple of years but no longer. The 4 cyl bikes have caught up & passed the Ducati power & handling…. ask Haga.

    I also heard on Speed that Ducati is not bring out a new bike until 2012… I would assume that that bike will be a version of the bike that Valentino & Nicky develop next year…. of course, Ducati could come out with 2 bikes….

    I’m looking forward to next year’s Moto Gp… Spies taking Rossi’s place with Yamaha, Stoner on a Honda & Rossi & HAyden on Ducs….

  31. simonbikerider says:

    Rossi helped develope the M1 and it will be interesting to see if Lorenzo can push it on to greater things next year with Rossi gone.
    I think Rossi has more motovation than ever to win next year and I think he will either win or crash out like this year trying. Like all the best champions he hates to lose… but so does Lorenzo and don’t forget Stoner, Spies and Pedrosa.

    This season already looks done and dusted but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rossi really presure Lorenzo in the last rounds to try and do what Rossi does best and get inside Lorenzo’s head… I can’t wait, in the end the fans are are the winners.

    • Tim says:

      Lorenzo is the one guy who doesn’t seem to let Rossi get into his head. Even after a couple of close losses to him last year, Lorenzo just kept charging back. I just wish Lorezo had come around 5 years earlier. Imagine the races we could have seen with both in their prime at the same time? I’m not convinced Rossi is beyond his prime just yet, but he may have taken a small step in that direction. But he’s still the greatest of all time, and very capable of winning another championship if he gets the right bike and can stay healthy.

      Rossi needs to work on getting off to faster starts. Other than Pedrosa, Lorenzo seems to be one of the best starters out there, and when he gets the lead, he is tough to catch.

      Only one more week to Indy…Can’t wait.

  32. Daniel Breitbach says:

    I believe the factory bikes will be limited to 800cc for 2012. Is that not the case?

  33. CowboyTut says:

    Well, I hope your right. What your saying does make a certain amount of sense, particularly regarding Nick Hayden, Ben Spies and the larger 1000cc machines. I think that Rossi will bring a lot to the development cycle of the Ducati bikes as well (whether he shares that info with his team mates remains to be seen). But I’m not sure how bright Rossi’s future will be. I don’t think it will be as bright as before, particularly with Jorge Lorenzo just ON FIRE like never before. I’m guessing that Rossi is past his prime now but I wish him all the success in the world and hope he prooves me wrong.