Although Ducati wouldn’t describe it quite this way, the 2011 MotoGP series was a disaster for them. After assembling the war chest necessary to hire the great Valentino Rossi, Ducati went winless and typically found itself mid-pack rather than battling at the front with Honda and Yamaha.
Each year Ducati gathers with fellow Italian motorsports icon Ferrari and its F1 team at Madonna di Campiglio for the Wrooom media event. Typically, the race bike for the coming season is unveiled to the public, but this year is different. Valentino Rossi talks about having seen the new bike only on a computer screen as Ducati scrambles to build test machines in advance of the late January test in Sepang. Once again, Ducati starts behind the eight ball as Honda and Yamaha will refine machines they have already tested and performed well on.
Below is a video of the press conference held earlier today at Wrooom featuring Rossi and Hayden. Although Rossi speaks in Italian in the video, you can read some English-language quotes from him in the press release, which is also below.
The Ducati Team riders were the stars of the first day of Wrooom 2012 at Madonna di Campiglio, with Nicky Hayden first to “take to the track” and answer questions from the international press in attendance. The American, who is recovering well enough from his injured left scapula that he has already removed his sling, then passed the baton to a pleased Valentino Rossi, who is motivated to get back in the saddle and start winter testing in just over two weeks.
“I’m much better,” confirmed Nicky Hayden, “so I’ve been able to remove the sling right on schedule. Here at Madonna di Campiglio, I’m starting to do a little training on a stationary bicycle under the supervision of the team physiotherapist, with the goal of being ready for the Sepang test (31 January – 2 February) as strong as possible. I can’t wait to ride the GP12, because it will be my first time ever. I wasn’t able to try it in the post-race test at Valencia, and I definitely won’t miss the next chance. I never made any secret that I prefer the new displacement to the 800s, although I think things will be much different than in 2006, beginning with the tyres, and the electronics have also come a long way. We’ll have more power, and we’ll have to find the right balance between controlling it while still taking as much advantage of it as we can. I’ve stayed in contact with Filippo (Preziosi) and the guys in the Ducati Corse department over the winter, and I know they’ve worked really hard. We’ll have a lot of things to try at Sepang. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m also confident that we can start to reduce the gap between now and the first race at Qatar. I believe in Ducati, this project and Filippo, and I want to get back on my Ducati as soon as possible.”
“We’re starting with a different spirit,” Valentino Rossi began with a smile. “When I came to Wrooom, I was still healing from my shoulder operation, and after that, the season didn’t go at all like we’d hoped. For this year, Filippo (Preziosi) designed a different bike, and they’ve made a big effort at Ducati to have it in time for the start of the winter tests. I visited the factory and saw it on a computer, and it’s beautiful. We’re not expecting it to be immediately perfect at Sepang, but rather to understand if we’ve worked in the proper direction. We’re very realistic, and our goal is to reduce the gap to our competition, step by step, working in a logical way, and from there to be able to refine the details in order to be competitive and to try and win. One of the most important things for going fast is to make the tyres work as they’re able to, so together with Filippo, we’ve tried to come up with a bike that will let them perform as well as possible. We’ll see if we’ve managed it. I like working with Ducati. I feel good here because there’s a nice atmosphere and we all have faith.”
Wrooom continues tomorrow with the press conference for Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse General Manager, who will go into detail on the bike’s development and the technical program that will allow the Desmosedici GP12 to confront the new MotoGP season as well as possible.