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Valentino Rossi Out of Excuses after Qatar Performance

Twelfth place in qualifying (just in front of Colin Edwards on his CRT, and last among the manufacturer bikes) followed by tenth place in the race. All this after a full year of development (a year that, in itself, was full of excuses). Valentino Rossi is out of excuses.

Teammate Nicky Hayden fought hard to finish in sixth place, and was full of optimism after the Qatar race. He had a bad start. The bike will only get better. These were Hayden’s thoughts, and comments.

Rossi is complaining profusely to the Italian media, by contrast. He is quoted as saying his Ducati is unrideable, and his performance at Qatar this year is actually worse than his performance at Qatar last year… his first time on the older Ducati, a bike he had virtually no input on designing.

Sure, things could’ve gone better during the race. At one point, Rossi was essentially pushed off the track, and lost several seconds. His starting position was poor (given his abysmal performance in qualifying), and the machine he is riding is still in the very early stages of its development.

There are at least two massive problems, however. First, Rossi is beginning to consistently lose pace to other Ducati riders, and not just Nicky Hayden. At one point during the race, Rossi was in 12th position, before Karel Abraham retired (on a Ducati), and then Spies drifted backward with handling issues on his Yamaha. In the end, Rossi was beaten not only by Hayden, but by Ducati satellite rider Hector Barbera. Of course, the bikes ridden by Hayden and Barbera have no more development behind them than Rossi’s bike, and Rossi has more support than either of them in terms of staffing and factory attention.

The other major problem is that Rossi appears to be embarking on another season where he will “hope and pray” for a podium, or two. It can be argued quite forcefully that Rossi is the greatest premier class rider in history, and he is undoubtedly being paid a king’s ransom by Ducati and its sponsors. Rossi was not hired to “hope and pray” for a podium, he was hired to win races and win championships. After a full year in which his team (including his legendary crew chief Jeremy Burgess) had every opportunity to direct development of the bike, his performance at the opening race is worse than last year.

Does anybody really think Rossi will be beating Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, or Dani  Pedrosa anytime soon? At this point, it seems unlikely he would beat any of them all year absent some bad luck on their part, and a race win by Ducati seems unfathomable.

The third problem is that Rossi joined a team that already had a bike that was winning races from time to time under Casey Stoner. A bike that didn’t suit Rossi’s style, apparently, but the fact remains that Stoner could win races, and grab pole positions, with the old bike.

It is my opinion that Rossi will never be the dominant rider he once was. Age eventually robs us all of our youthful skills and fortitude, but the death of close friend Marco Simoncelli cannot be discounted as a factor. It would be bad enough that Rossi lost his good friend on the same racetrack, but video indicates Rossi’s bike struck Simoncelli’s body during the accident (along with the bike ridden by Colin Edwards), and although everyone knows it was an unavoidable accident, this could clearly be robbing Rossi of concentration on the track.

So the “marriage made in heaven” between the legendary Italian rider and the legendary Italian motorcycle manufacturer has turned into a bit of a disaster. With the strength shown by both Honda and Yamaha so far this year, prospects don’t look good for Ducati or Rossi in the near term.

97 Comments

  1. r says:

    One-Sided article.. Why didnt you name it Rossi bashing instead.

    Either you are too old, and your are awake only at the time the guys take the podium or you are too young that you started watching the races from 2007(Thats the only logical explanation.)

    Hayden said this is the best Ducati he’s ridden. Barbera and Hayden qualified above Rossi. Yeah thats true.

    Then why do they have a gap of 1.3 + sec everylap and more than 28 secs end of the race. If it was the best ducati. Hayden should have been fighting at the front.

    Ducati have got great engine, great top speed. But this aint a drag race. The bike aint balanced, just like you article.

    Look at stoners Races, on a ducati. If he qualifies on pole, he sure wins the race. cuz all he has to do, is set laptimes. That is , push that ducati. If crashed, then everyone says he crashed in the lead.

    Other hand. Stoner Why didnt Stoner, who won on Ducati in 2007, win another title in his three more years on a Ducati?.

    The problem is Ducati, Once that is sorted, you get many other Topics for the articles I suppose. Start with ‘Arm Pump’. Chattering(“Yamaha”)

  2. james kontol says:

    I think Rossi is being a whinger.

    He got Ducati bike developed to his liking even changing the frame, yet still lose.

    Look at where the other Ducatis are… in front of him.

    • Norm G. says:

      one of the best articles ever out of soup. kenny finally confirms what i’ve been saying going on 10 years.

      here’s something even MORE interesting over at RRW… http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/article/?article=47924

      further proof of the “devaluing consumer mentality” infecting motorcyclists. there’s no reason this same can’t be occuring with the japanese brands. oh wait, there IS a reason… it’s the devaluing consumer mentality…!!!

  3. vato_loco_frisco says:

    The latest from Rossi is that he’s staying put at Ducati…

  4. Tim says:

    Speaking of age: the only rider older than Rossi is Colin Edwards, 38. The other contenders for the title, Pedrosa and Stoner, are 26, and Lorenzo is 24.

    Michael Schumacher won his last championship at age of 35 in 2004. Downhill from there. Maybe age does have something to do with performance.

  5. zunkus says:

    Never underestimate people, especially champions. He made Yamaha what it is today, remember that? Before he joined Yamaha it was an also ran. Honda were all dominant. Even if you watched this Qatar race, how many of you started to think that Stoner was unreachable? Then almost at the end, the lollypop kid passed him and that was it. It’s easy to judge.

    • JMess says:

      Well said; there’s too many barstool prophets and couch-bound critics. He WAS and IS a great rider who will hit his stride again when he gets the right mix. He is definitely not too old.

    • Tim says:

      One shouldn’t OVERestimate the champions either. Success can and does go to people’s heads, causing them to grossly overestimate themselves.
      Do you remember Michael Jordan’s first retirement? How about his 2nd? 3 rd? Do you even remember the team he played for during his Nth comeback? That is the legacy we DON’T wish for Valentino Rossi.

  6. Simon says:

    I have one thing to say, when you think you have something figured out Dirck like what you wrote about Valentino just ask yourself this simple question. Would you bet against Rossi getting a podium or even “winning” if he was on a Repsol Honda? Yes Rossi is shit so far on the Duc but he still is something special. I doubt Stoner or Lorenzo will ever win 9 world championships.
    When a rider has done as much as Rossi has done for the sport I think he deserves some respect. One of the reasons people love him is because as great as he is he gives the other riders credit and he is humble.
    Dirck can you answer this question do you think Rossi could win on the Honda?

  7. pete Rasmussen says:

    Racing is the only way to develope a racebike, it will take time. Rossi is still great no doubt about it. He is obviously down about the results and the difficulties with the duc but given time they will improve it. With the restrictions on developement time makes very difficult for a new bike to get up to speed.

    • Gary says:

      It does take a long time to develop a racebike, but Ducati is not exactly new to the party. Even their world superbike team is using a model several years old. Something is wrong.

    • CB77 says:

      Yeah, I know he is good…great even. Actually, I don’t dislike him (although I liked him a lot better when he was riding a Honda).

      What I am saying is that he could have taken the easy route, by staying with Honda and winning probably 6 or 7 or 9 consecutive world championships, and collected that fat Honda check for all those years.

      But he took the more difficult route, by switching to other makers to help develop their bikes and teams, thereby passing up the glory of all those championships he could have won…and missing that fat Honda paycheck.

      But maybe he was not driven by just the money from Honda. He wanted to challenge himself, which he has done effectively and successfully. And maybe (and I hope) he is pleased with the path he has chosen. I wish him all the best. I know it is really hard for these guys, when the end of their riding career is approaching. It may be time for a switch to 4 wheels.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “What I am saying is that he could have taken the easy route, by staying with Honda and winning probably 6 or 7 or 9 consecutive world championships, and collected that fat Honda check for all those years.”

        but instead he, furasawa, burgess, and yamaha together changed the landscape of motorcycling forever by commercializing an engine configuration that heretofore never existed… ie. the crossplane. the devaluing nature of pundits and consumers blocks them from seeing this. but that’s okay, you can bet your ass honda sees it.

  8. Kim says:

    Have to disagree Dirck and some of the commentators on other websites disagree with you as well. Rossi probably would have been up near Nicky if not for being forced off track. The season is too young to make call on Rossi (the greatest motorcycle racer ever) and Ducati’s demise. I love your website Dirck keep up the great stuff but I disagree with you on this one. :)

    • Gary says:

      Nice post. Good to see someone who can politely disagree … a lost art in America, it seems. I’d love to see Rossi make a comeback. I am a huge fan.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The season is too young to make call on Rossi”

      funny, this parallels how he’s too young (age 33) to call curtains on career.

    • Kevin says:

      The problem about being pushed off the track is Rossi doesn’t get pushed of the track. Especially by the likes of Barbera. I don’t think Rossi has lost it. But he will NEVER win on that Ducati. Stoner is the only one who has gotten anywhere on it. The fact that he won championships on it is incredible. Nicky deserves tons of credit for simply not coming in last on it. That bike has been the demise of more than one MotoGP rider and it is working on Rossi now.

      • Dave says:

        *cough* Troy Bayliss *cough*..

        • Kevin says:

          Yeah:( love Bayliss. Probably my favorite rider. Was pumped when he won at Valencia in 2006. He and Loris 1, 2 on Ducati’s. Fabulous!

      • Paul says:

        He actually only won 1 Championship on the Ducati and it should have an asterisk as it was the year that he rode Bridgestone, while most everyone else used Michelins. The next year almost everyone else used Bridgestone because of the obvious advantage they had over the michelins and the year after it became the only tire manufacture as motogp went to the spec tire rule.

        • Pete says:

          You’re dreaming. The year after Stoner won the title, Michelin was actually winning until Pedrosa fell of and broke his wrist.

          PS: Stoner wasn’t the only one on bridgestones the year he won the title. His team mate was too, as was a certain RC211V rider.

  9. DaveA says:

    Dirck, look at the bright side here…at least people are talking about your post :)

  10. CB77 says:

    (In a recent interview, Rossi tells Ducati what is wrong with Ducati. Here are his comments)

    “Our problems are very clear: what doesn’t work at the rear, under acceleration, in my opinion comes from the front, and the cause is understeering.

    “At turn-entry, because of something we don’t know, the front doesn’t allow you to tighten the turn. This understeering is the biggest problem.

    “The incredible thing is that this characteristic is similar to all the Ducatis I’ve ridden since 2010: whether it’s the version with no chassis, or the one with the carbon-fibre front, of the one with the aluminium front, or the one with the full chassis… it doesn’t ever change, that’s incredible.

    “The engine is another very important problem. We need a more manageable engine: ours is very aggressive, more than Honda’s and a lot more than Yamaha’s.

    “By looking for top performance you might end up neglecting rideability a bit. That’s a mistake. What do you need all that power for if you can’t take advantage of it?”

    • CB77 says:

      I think Nicky’s performance last weekend (vs Rossi’s) may show that Ducati’s problem IS Rossi.

      • DaveA says:

        Rossi was run off the track during the race, and yet finished only 5 seconds behind Nicky. If you pay attention to lap times and the end result, it can be argues that Nicky didn’t do materially better than Rossi did. I mean, Rossi was 5 seconds behind Nick at the end and turning faster times, after having been pushed off the track. it’s not like Nicky was keeping up with any of the fast guys.

        Hey, I love both guys…want badly for Nicky to crush souls in motogp. It isn’t happening on that bike for him, and it isnt’ happening for Rossi. I am pretty confident that both riders are very sad right now.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “the front doesn’t allow you to tighten the turn. This understeering is the biggest problem.”

      a critique i’d like to point out that has never been said about the combination of a long engine wrapped in a full trellis in the past 2 decades. never seen it, never read it, never experienced it.

  11. Dusty Bin says:

    Very good article just didnt feel the need to point out that is was rossi’s and edwards bikes that struck simoncelli yet again im sure they both still feel bad enough without having it pointed out again

  12. John says:

    Thanks for the article, Dirck. It’s nice to see a journalist who isn’t afraid to question Valentino Rossi’s performance. Please do your best to ignore all the negative comments from his fan-boys, hopefully the door won’t hit them on their way out.

    • Dave says:

      This is a blog post, not journalism. Dirk does not have first hand knowledge of what’s going on in Ducati’s garage. He should stick with bike reviews where he has first-hand experience to draw from. We all saw the race, Rossi had a hard time. It happens, more so for Ducati riders. Lorenzo won on the same bike that Spies struggled on for race distance.

      Speculation like the above article only serves to drag MCdaily down from a credible moto-industry outlet to a blog with pictures. The only authority with any right to question Rossi’s performance are his employers. Stop pretending to know the answers..

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Thanks for the article, Dirck. It’s nice to see a journalist who isn’t afraid to question Valentino Rossi’s performance.”

      ummmn, why are you falsely presenting dirck’s piece like it’s an “exception” to the rule…? and not the rule…?

  13. TomS says:

    I have always been a fan of Rossi’s and I hate to see him not running at the front of the pack. I can’t speculate as to why he’s not competing for the podium any more – could be age, or the cumulative effects of injuries, or psychological, or a combination of all of the above. Also I’ve never thought of him as being a whiner, or being quick to offer excuses (certainly not like Max Biaggi was when he was past his prime).

    I did get a sinking feeling when Rossi made the move to Ducati. Seems like the Ducs of late can be ridden well by – well, one person, Stoner – and everyone else struggles. Previous to his move to Ducati I always thought of Rossi as a rider that could wring every last bit of performance out of damned near any bike, if that’s what it took to win. I’m not seeing that now.

    It’s a shame.

  14. AFW says:

    Rossi has a major confidence problem, plus too many years riding flawless bikes then jumping on a twitchy Ducati only Stoner had the cojones to push at the limit. Either
    he rides around the problems and waits for GP12 updates later in the season or
    he decays from his depression.

  15. Lee says:

    This article is probably one of the most unbalanced, badly thought out articles I have ever had the displeasure to read.

    “All this after a full year of development (a year that, in itself, was full of excuses). Valentino Rossi is out of excuses”. I’ll hazard an excuse or two myself:
    Excuse 1 – Stoner had 4 years development time on the Ducati and won the championship in his first year with Ducati. After that his results and final position decreased every year until years 3 and 4 (4th overall). If you’re saying Rossi is a shit rider after a year’s development then you must be saying that Stoner is a really shit rider after 4 years?
    Excuse 2 – They just changed the frame, which I am led to believe is a fairly major component within a motorcycle.
    Excuse 3 – Nicky Hayden has had 3 years development on the Ducati with a best final position of 7th in the championship. Same applies as in point 1.
    note: I think Hayden and Stoner are great riders and mean no disrespect.
    Your opinion of Rossi being out of excuses is easily argued.

    “Teammate Nicky Hayden fought hard to finish in sixth place, and was full of optimism after the Qatar race. He had a bad start. The bike will only get better. These were Hayden’s thoughts, and comments. Rossi is complaining profusely to the Italian media, by contrast. He is quoted as saying his Ducati is unrideable, and his performance at Qatar this year is actually worse than his performance at Qatar last year… his first time on the older Ducati, a bike he had virtually no input on designing”. So your point is that Hayden is eternally optimistic, while riding a motorcycle that continues to provide him with middle standing results through seasons, and that Rossi is complaining about a bike that doesn’t suit his riding style, using an honest comparison based on empirical data? Actually, what is your point? I think you are trying to say that Rossi should be more positive but I think that is unrealistic given the character and ego involved. I suspect Rossi’s feedback will become more negative and less subtle if Ducati cannot turn the bike around more quickly.

    “Sure, things could’ve gone better during the race. At one point, Rossi was essentially pushed off the track, and lost several seconds. His starting position was poor (given his abysmal performance in qualifying), and the machine he is riding is still in the very early stages of its development”. Well which approach are you taking? Are you sticking with “After a full year of development” or are you going with “the machine he is riding is still in the very early stages of its development”? Do make your mind up old chap.

    “There are at least two massive problems, however. First, Rossi is beginning to consistently lose pace to other Ducati riders”. You mean consistently losing time in this very early part of the season, after this one race? I think your use of “consistently” is inconsistent with the facts.

    “Of course, the bikes ridden by Hayden and Barbera have no more development behind them than Rossi’s bike, and Rossi has more support than either of them in terms of staffing and factory attention”. Of course, I have to disagree. A bike is developed to suit a rider individually, otherwise they’d just have one technical team and be using the same settings and data between them. So, as mentioned above, Hayden’s bike has had many more years of development.

    “The other major problem is that Rossi appears to be embarking on another season where he will “hope and pray” for a podium, or two”. Where did you get this insight? I take it that you have access to the man himself and have indulged in deep and meaningful, philosophical debates on his current approach to racing? I suggest that this is just your own speculation. My own view is that he is either trying as hard as he can with what he has to work with or he is not trying his hardest (either because he knows he can’t be competitive and maybe a thinly disguised protest for more change). But uinlike you, I will caveat that with the fact that I simply do not know.

    “It can be argued quite forcefully that Rossi is the greatest premier class rider in history, and he is undoubtedly being paid a king’s ransom by Ducati and its sponsors. Rossi was not hired to “hope and pray” for a podium, he was hired to win races and win championships. After a full year in which his team (including his legendary crew chief Jeremy Burgess) had every opportunity to direct development of the bike, his performance at the opening race is worse than last year”. He is not the greatest; Agostini is, if you are going by stats. I see we’re back to the ‘a whole year to develop’ approach, ignoring the massive changes to the bike.

    “Does anybody really think Rossi will be beating Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, or Dani Pedrosa anytime soon?”. Not in the short term and maybe not ever if things cannot be changed fast enough so that Rossi is riding a bike that suits his style.

    “The third problem is that Rossi joined a team that already had a bike that was winning races from time to time under Casey Stoner. A bike that didn’t suit Rossi’s style, apparently, but the fact remains that Stoner could win races, and grab pole positions, with the old bike”. Your opinion of the stats again, I guess. Yes Stoner could win races from time to time on the old bike. He could also fall off it quite a lot too. Not to mention Stoner being stricken with illness, which, if I was a drivel writing columnist, who favours my own ‘speculation without bounds’ style of opinionated writing, I might suggest was as a result of Stoner being in the same situation as Rossi now: results getting worse – can’t seem to sort bike.

    “It is my opinion that Rossi will never be the dominant rider he once was. Age eventually robs us all of our youthful skills and fortitude, but the death of close friend Marco Simoncelli cannot be discounted as a factor. It would be bad enough that Rossi lost his good friend on the same racetrack, but video indicates Rossi’s bike struck Simoncelli’s body during the accident (along with the bike ridden by Colin Edwards), and although everyone knows it was an unavoidable accident, this could clearly be robbing Rossi of concentration on the track”. Your thinly disguised suggestion that Rossi is accountable for Simoncelli’s death is deplorable. I think you need to revisit how low you are stooping to provide an impressionable story. I think possibly age has robbed you of your youthful skill and conscience. I can’t deny you your opinion but hope that you are wrong.

    I really didn’t enjoy reading your piece. It comes across to me as Rossi hating propaganda and appears to be making the most of kicking a man while he’s down. The article contradicts itself frequently, most often to further the negativity with which the whole piece is written. It is based far too much on your own thoughts, opinions and speculation, rather than facts. And, where you do use facts, there is no balance; just a one sided view.

    Regards,
    Lee.

    • Fangit says:

      Dam, I hope you didn’t explode and bust into flames after throwing such a vitriolic tantrum. Your comments are the definition of unbalanced and badly thought out. After 4 years with Ducati Stoner may not have been winning the Moto GP title but he was highly competitive, winning lots of races and would have done even better without his health issues. Even Rossi’s crew chief, Jeremy Burgess seems to agree with Dirck. He was interviewed during the Quatar race coverage and he all but said Rossi’s own performance was not good enough any more. It’s sad to say, and he may prove us all wrong and come back but how long do you hold your tongue before you finally admit the Emperor really is not wearing any clothes???

      • Lee says:

        Apologies if my post offended you as much as the original offended me. That wasn’t my intention. I was seeking to highlight, in my own view, just how speculative, unbalanced and downright dirty this article is in places. Re your ending question: I hope Rossi is still competitive and only time will tell but I’ll base my thoughts and predictions on more than just one season with a bike that plainly is not yet in a competitive state for Rossi and a host of other variables that make it nigh on impossible to understand what is truly happening in both Rossi’s head and the Ducati camp.

    • HalfBaked says:

      Your reply is longer than the article.

  16. falcodoug says:

    Ouch!

  17. Gary says:

    In my view, all great champions, like skimmed milk, has a certain shelf life. It is sad when they go beyond that, and it is very rare when a superstar retires at the top of his/her career. Most try to milk it as long as they can, remembering the glory of their peak. That goes for Kenny Roberts, Mohammed Ali, Brett Favre and now Rossi. I don’t think Rossi will every win another championship, but I believe has a few more podiums in him, and I think he deserves to continue trying as long as he has backing. I will remember his speed and style. But more than that, I’ll never forget the love he had for racing. He is one-of-a-kind.

  18. Nomadak says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with DAVE. I’ve been here reading and contributing for years but A couple more of these and I’ll go back to the regular forums where I can read this kind of drivel all day long. No, I’m not a blind Rossi fanboy….I like the racing. Focus on that, not piling on a legendary rider who is in a down turn spell. Put Rossi back on a Yamaha or Honda and I predict a rapid return to Alien status.

  19. Trpldog says:

    Watching Rossi now mid pack is like watching a three-legged dog watch his friends chase a rabbit the he himself has no chance of catching. I feel for him. I hope Ducati gets their one-legged Duc running. Or just pull the pin and jump fully into World Superbike and duke it out with Max.
    Cheers

  20. Stratkat says:

    28 seconds is an eternity???? 5 seconds is almost impossible to make up!
    28 seconds may as well just stay home its that bad. Nicky may have had beter feel
    but his pace was way off the leaders. there is something really wrong with that bike!

  21. DaveA says:

    I added the ‘A’ to avoid confusion (I’m the guy who always complains about eCurmudgeons :) ). Ok, so about this piece…

    Dirck, what is your point here? I’ve read the piece three times and I still have no idea what you’re on about here. Rossi is out of excuses? That implies that he is riding a bike that should be winning, but he’s making excuses, and now it’s been revealed somehow that really this is all Rossi’s fault. If that’s not what you intended, then please let us know what you are referring to when you say that Rossi is “out of excuses.”

    Rossi finished 5 seconds behind Nicky, and he started multiple rows back plus was pushed off the track at some point. There is nothing to be learned from the pair’s results relative to each other in this race.

    Also, the statements about how Rossi is “beginning to consistently lose pace to other Ducati riders” don’t hold water either. There has been one race this year, and all of the Ducati riders in question are on a brand-new, clean-sheet bike that nobody has any experience with. How is one race of that translating to “beginning to consistently lose pace?” Nobody is consistently doing anything one race into the season. Consider the possibility that these guys are all premier, top 1% racers, and it’s likely that the Ducatis that finsh highest are being ridden as fast as they can be ridden.

    Then we move on to the “other problem” involving hoping and praying for a podium or two. Is this in contrast to all of the other Ducati riders who will be fighting for wins every weekend?

    The fact is that the bike is junk, and it’s been junk for three+ generations now. Casey Stoner (who could ride a broom to a top 5…he will be in best-ever discussions in 10 years…believe it) is the only person who has been able to ride any iteration of the Ducati prototype with anything approaching consistency and speed since 2006.

    Rossi isn’t out of excuses. He is out of patience.

    • David says:

      Dirck, DaveA said it very well.
      We all know that these riders can squeeze every drop of speed from whatever bike they are riding. Lorenzo had a slightly better set up than Stoner and he won. Or all of a sadden Stoner is slower than Lorenzo? Same thing can be said for Spies, clearly it was the bike. If Rossi on a Ducati can’t even dream of winning, what is the conclusion?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I know that Hector Barbera was quickest Ducati at the Sepang test in early March on a satellite bike. Of course, Rossi was outpaced by Karel Abraham during qualifying more than once last year on a satellite Ducati … Abraham being a rider who got into MotoGP on his father’s money and connections, not skill. So the fact that 3 Ducatis (including 2 satellite bikes) out-qualified Rossi at Qatar this year isn’t necessarily shocking, but this sort of thing never happened earlier in his career. I sometimes think that Rossi has lost his motivation to fight, because he doesn’t care about sixth place versus tenth. If he can’t run with Lorenzo and Stoner, he doesn’t care about the rest of it.

      • DaveA says:

        I understand that other Ducati’s have at times gone faster than Rossi (sometimes ecven for more than a lap at a time). That doesn’t answer the question of what you talking about re: Rossi being out of excuses. You’re saying I guess that he has been making excuses for what are actually just his own poor performances? If this is the case, where are all of the other Ducatis running up front, ridden by the guys who are now illustrating to us that Rossi has just been making excuses all this time?

        Karel Abraham (who has shown pretty impressive gains imo) beat Rossi exactly zero times last year in races where they were both running at the end. As for qualifying, what exactly would be the point of riding the 11/10ths needed in qualifying for a front-running Q spot when you know for a fact that you can’t run race times within a second of the top 5 guys? What is gained by the additional risk to achieve starting in 7th instead of 11th or whatever?

        Consider this: if Louisville Slugger signed Albert Pujols to a contract to use their new tech UltraBat, and it turned out that this bat could only hit a ball 70% as hard as other bats, how long would he go on flying out to shallow center before he said something about it?

        I’m not even a Rossi fan, but no rider has done anything at all of consequence in several iterations of the Ducati MotoGP prototype. It is a little silly I think, to single out Rossi as the excuse maker in the situation, just because he’s sick of risking his life and his legacy every weekend on that POS bike and after the entire disaster that was 2011, finally cracked and told the truth?

        Is there any validity at all to the Rossi eHassling going on? Maybe. I think that if someone wanted to point out that he signed with Ducati knowing that the bike was a POS, so he’s made his bed and now should lie in it, then I might be willing to listen to that. But the vitriol around his poor performances and now his comments to the Italian press is, in my opinion, ridiculous.

  22. paso100 says:

    It’s called racing. The distance between the start and finish line is exactly the same for every rider and manufacturer and it never changes. The only changes are created by the rider and manufacturer. The finish line never says “but” or “if only” or “what about” and couldn’t care less about people complaining or talking about issues that THEY create. The truth speaks for itself at the finish line no matter who does the talking.

  23. W1LLPARKER says:

    Sure Rossi might be in the twilight of his career, bur does any impartial critc believe he would’nt have won races and contend for the title on the honda or Yamaha?

    • Scotty says:

      Yeah he might of, and does any critic who is impartial doubt that Stoner would not have won a couple more titles if he had been on a Honda?? I have been following GPs since the early 80s but I have the long veiw of history and in the end if champions are not invalided out (Doohan or Rainey) they eventually decline. We are witnessing the decline of Rossi. It happens. Often champions are unbeatable until they are beaten….. Its actually quite rare they retire on top.

  24. Dave says:

    Maybe Rossi’s time has passed. He will go down as one of the greatest riders of all time. Mike Hailwood was the best though.

  25. Johnne Lee says:

    I think VR was hired primarily to help develop the new Ducati for the future, There is, of course, the marketing potential. VR may have had other plans, but who can say. Not to mention it is only the first race of the season.

    If VR never makes the podium again history will remain unchanged for the distant foreseeable future.

    VR is the second best Moto GP racer of all time. Giacomo is the best Moto GP racer of all time.

    Joey Dunlop is the GOAT.

    There may be one Aussie in the conversation and his name isn’t Casey.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Not to mention it is only the first race of the season.”

      not to mention the off performances of both stoner and spies and the complaints of chatter across all 3 of the top manufacturers that occured THROUGHOUT winter testing. where’s everybody been…? what’s occuring is the teams are trying to simultaneously “digest” a change in tyre compound, at the same time they are sorting a 1000cc engine.

      in ducati land, they have all that PLUS the burden of sorting a frame material they have NEVER worked with. for them that’s 2 variables too many. as evidenced by the problems occuring in BOTH the mighty honda AND yamaha camps, tyres were not expected to be a “moving target” by A-N-Y-B-O-D-Y. putting “softer”, “faster warming tyres” on a chassis with 200 extra cc’s that was deliberately designed for something other, will get you the EXACT problems that are occuring.

      this is not a problem unique to prototypes or anything. this same thing occurs in WSBK, domestic, and club level racing and has been for YEARS. guys like mccallister, thede, albin, and stanboli are all scratching their heads wondering how many at the grandprix level did not see this coming…?

    • Dale says:

      Joey Dunlap is Ricky Carmichael???

  26. Agent55 says:

    I’ve read a few anti-Rossi articles on MD since visiting the first time a couple years back, it’s shoddy journalism especially when it ignores the facts. What facts? How about the fact that Hayden finished a second further back of the winner than in 2011, a full 28 seconds back I might add. Sure he looked like he was having a good ‘ol time on the GP12, but he nor any of the Ducati’s is anywhere near competitive right now. It’s a completely unsorted bike, and even someone of Rossi’s caliber can’t simply transform Ducati’s backasswards race department into something on par with Honda or Yamaha’s squads.

    Btw, Hayden always praises his team and never complains about Ducati, that’s nice and all, but I’m not sure that approach is going to help develop a winning bike. Ducati needs to make massive changes or look back to WSBK.

    • Pat Walker says:

      Btw, Hayden always praises his team and never complains about Ducati, that’s nice and all, but I’m not sure that approach is going to help develop a winning bike.

      Hayden is smart enough not to bad mouth Duc in public. I am sure
      nik has told duc how bad he thinks the bike is in private.
      Call it smart , class or holding the company line.

    • Jack says:

      It’s shoddy because you don’t agree with him.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “It’s shoddy because you don’t agree with him.”

        no, it’s SHODDY because normally we get our tabloid journalism from the sun or the daily mirror. the fact that many disagree is a secondary issue.

  27. Bud says:

    How about you start your own blog and only write things you like. This was a well thought out and well written article.

    • Bud says:

      ^^ was supposed to be in reply to Dave

    • Dave says:

      No, it isn’t. If it were, it would not be so full of “verbal coffin nails”. Rossi is one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time and one of the biggest sports celebrities in the world. If Americans can accept Tiger Woods and Michael Vick after their antics then Rossi deserves much better than this. It’s an opinion piece that’s clearly bitter about Rossi’s failure to meet expectations (currently). Ironically, it’s place is on a private blog as you suggest.

  28. grumpy8521 says:

    or maybe it’s just the first race of the season on a newly developed bike and Rossi hasn’t gotten it dialed in to his liking. It is a different bike than last year. I’d love to see him come back and run circles around the young pups (not gonna happen with the speed of Lorenzo, Stoner and Pedrosa, but one can hope). No matter what happens, he’s had a storied career and is still young enough to engage in something else and excel at that too.

  29. Chris says:

    Rossi knows what a bike feels like when it works well. My ’96 VFR felt amazing and it was not even a race bike. It just did everything well. Having ridden some great MotoGP bikes, he, like Colin Edwards and many others, just cannot ride a poor bike beyond it’s feel on the track. Look at Checa. Wins WSBK but did not win much in MotoGP. Kenny Roberts said after riding the current MotoGP bike, that there is no room for error. Cannot get off line. Either ride it exactly at a certain speed on a certain line, or move backwards fast. Rossi is just feeling thru the tires that the Duc is not a top three bike. If I give any of us a sport bike set up too hard to too soft for what we are used to, then we will hate it as our friends ride away from us. Stoner crashed a lot on the Ducati. Rossi knows how to ride a bike. Come on people. It’s not him. Casey left!

  30. Pat Walker says:

    I am/was a big rossi fan. One race, back when vr was on the yamaha and we knew he was heading to duc. He was behind stoner (on the duc) for a few corners before getting ahead of him. After the race vr said the duc does not look too bad but stoner was not riding it hard enough to get good results. When you are a 9x world champion you don’t need to spew that kind of bs out of your mouth. Last year I laughed all season long at how bad vr was doing.
    I guess he was not riding hard enough.

    • Norm G. says:

      wait, let me see if i have this straight…

      because rossi (a 9x champ) made a comment back in like 1947, it is ok to continue sighting THIS as grounds to justify (what is basically) an individual/personal desire to engage in “mass character assination”… and this we should do in TOTAL IGNORANCE with TOTAL DISREGARD to the blowback and unintended consequences of our collective behavior.

      would this be about right…?

      • Pat Walker says:

        Sorry I live in a little world where you would think a
        9x world champ wouldn’t stoop to this level. What did
        he gain by slamming stoner?
        Nothing
        He sure did look like a fool for doing it.

        • Pete McDonald says:

          So true Pat! Rossi slagging Stoner on the Ducati = massive egg on face. All them chickens are coming home to roost big time now!!!

        • Norm G. says:

          guys, the fact that you’re holding on to a comment said (not yesterday, not recently), but a good while ago is evidence that your just “riding the bandwagon” and your motivations aren’t sincere. lemme guess, pat and pete are names of the 2 individuals still seen wearing home made “pedrosa sucks” t-shirts to the US gp’s…!?

  31. MGNorge says:

    The hard truth. While reading it I wondered what Dirck was thinking in his mind other than what came from his keyboard. I mean here he is writing a very critical piece about Rossi, a god in some people’s eyes, and you have to wonder if it saddened him to write it? But I’d say he’s right. The evidence that what once were excuses about the equipment are now pointing toward Rossi. Good tough piece Dirck.

  32. proheli says:

    It seems like there are two different issues. 1) is the bike good enough to win and/or even win a championship, and 2) is Rossi still good enough to beat Jorge and Casey. Well, Starting with 2), Jorge and Casey are very very fast right now. Veeery fast, so maybe he’s not fast enough right now, but probably still faster than everybody else. I feel for Simoncelli, but Rossi is an adult in an adult world and I don’t mean to sound casual, but he can handle the fact of death in life. In all of his photos he looks focused, like he is all there. Not distraught and mourning, so he’s good to go. And 1) the bike is definitely not fast enough. Rossi and Burgess spend their time and energy developing, because they know unless the bike gets to a point where IT can win, then no body can win a championship on it. If the bike was capable of winning, then Rossi and everyone would be happy and getting on with the business of winning a championship. The bike is difficult, too difficult to ride. Is there any rider who has never said this?

  33. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I don’t doubt that it is simply a case of the bike not giving Rossi the feel he wants.
    Weekend riders, both street and dirt, talk amongst each other looking for the hot setup of their own machines, complaining if things don’t feel right to them.

    Wouldn’t it be something if things continued as they are up until mid-season, both Rossi and Ducati are tired of the situation, Rossi leaves the Ducati team, hops on a Satellite bike for the remainder of the year, and seems more like his old self, again.
    Don’t know if the rules allow such a thing, but it would be interesting.

    • craigj says:

      In fact Ducati’s already done that in the past, moving Ben Bostrom off the factory WSB team to a satellite team where he had better results.

  34. Fizzy the Squidward says:

    It’s the first race of the season. Let the cards play a while longer before making assumptions.

  35. Razzle Dazzle says:

    One thing’s for sure, he always did know how to capture the attention of the press, and he’s certainly captured yours.

  36. CowboyTutt says:

    I’ve been suspecting the same thing for quite a while as Stoner’s performance on the earlier Ducati really called into question Rossi’s peformance. But Rossi claimed the newer bikes from Honda and Yamaha had improved to such an extent that Stoner’s old Ducati would not have been competative either. OK, sounded feasable. So many Ducati chasis adjustments later and even a whole new frame and all at once Nicky Hayden blows Rossi into the weeds like never before. As an educational psychologist I can totally understand how the trauma of Rossi’s crashes, surgeries, and most of all, the death of Simoncelli virtually at his hands could be almost insurmountable psychological barriers to overcome. I know I wouldn’t be the same either and having crashed once real bad on a 99 Hayabusa due to a diesel oil spill, I was never as fast on that same bike because of associations of trauma. I had to change bikes and it took years to get my “game” back. Unfortunately, Rossi is one of the most renowned racers in history with a known expertise in psychological warfare with his racing peers. Now it seems Rossi has met his psychological match, the one foe he cannot best so easy, and it is himself. I wish him well but a voluntary exit strategy may be in order rather than it be forced upon him ungracefully.

    -Tutt

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “As an educational psychologist I can totally understand how the trauma of Rossi’s crashes, surgeries, and most of all, the death of Simoncelli virtually at his hands could be almost insurmountable psychological barriers to overcome.”

      and what are the prospects for those who AREN’T limited to viewing these things in the narrow sense of being only “problems”…? but can see them as “opportunities”…?

      could his desire not be as great as ever for the very reason that he DID lose his friend, and the frustration simply stems from this motivation contrasting with the bike not being sorted yet…?

      curious, why is THIS scenario not an option for him…? while i have been able to use the loss of my grandmother (for the past 8 years) as a motivating force for me…?

  37. joe b says:

    i thought when he left Honda, they wanted to point out, it was the motorcycle and not the rider that was winning. few remember that I guess.

  38. Tim says:

    I’ve been a strong defender of Rossi, and a huge fan of his, but I have to agree that age appears to be catching up with him. I’ve read research suggesting that a person’s tolerance of fear grows less with age, and I suspect that may be what’s at play here with Rossi. He rides like someone who is riding scared. It may be time for him to make that move to Formula 1.

    I would love nothing more than for Rossi to step up and prove me wrong. I long for the days when he would hang back in second place, and pass on the last lap or two of the race for the win. Lorenzo did that Sunday. I really believe Lorenzo has taken over as the most talented rider, with an ever so slight edge over Stoner, but I still think Stoner will win another championship this year. Honda still has the best bike and the most resources.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’ve read research suggesting that a person’s tolerance of fear grows less with age”

      it’s a good job then neither checa, nor biaggi, nor hizzy ever read that research. :)

      re: “It may be time for him to make that move to Formula 1.”

      and the wrecks in open-wheel are somehow LESS scary…?

      • Dave says:

        “and the wrecks in open-wheel are somehow LESS scary…?”

        Absolutely less scary, and less dangerous.

        A harness holding the driver in carbon fiber capsule engineered for crash forces greater than they will experience vs. a leather suit with elbow, back and knee pads?

  39. soi cowboy says:

    gotta suspect that Italy’s financial issues are a factor

    • Gary says:

      Not really. Hayden is doing okay.

      • kando says:

        Nor really Nicky has been struggling for a long time now and even worse with Ducati. I love him and root for him every year at Red Bull GP, but unless he can turn it around this year, I’m nor sure how long Ducati can pay him.

  40. marko says:

    Well written and covers many things I’ve been wondering about since yesterday. I was excited to see how Rossi and the Ducatis would do this season and was stunned when I saw how badly he qualified. I don’t know how much development can fix this motorcycle but then again is it the motorcycle or is Rossi slower. Hayden posted a solid result and that has to be taken into consideration.

    • Andrew Mai says:

      If Rossi had not been pushed off of the track by Barbera, he would have finished along side of Hayden. Neither finish would qualify as “solid” — 28 seconds is an eternity in MotoGP.

  41. Dave says:

    Worst thing I have ever seen on motorcycledaily.com

    It reads like it was written by a guy who lost money betting on Rossi. How about you cover the racing and the equipment like a journalist instead of writing filler like this negative piece of garbage.

    • Gutterslob says:

      A tiny part of it sounds like it was written by a Stoner fan, but overall I wouldn’t call it a bad article. Most journos are saying almost the same thing on almost all the other motorsport sites/publications. Yeah sure, you can say they’re journos and not GP riders, but then again neither are we.

      I’m starting to wonder about Rossi. I always knew he was beatable, especially by the current young bunch who refused to let him get under their skin (psychologically) like he did with Biaggi and Gibernau, but not beaten to this extent. Starting to feel a bit sorry for him, truth be told. Yes, I agree that age and whatnot can play a part in slowing you down, but most “veterans” slow down gradually. Rossi almost immediately seemed out of sorts when he rode the Duc last year (even before Marco Simoncelli’s unfortunate accident), and it seems to be getting worse.

      I must confess. I was gutted when he left Yamaha. I’m a strong supporter of Jap manufacturers, since I’m Asian myself and grew up with them (though I currently ride a Speed Triple) and personally hoped Rossi never won a title on a Ducati. But this is just too much and I’m feeling a bit guilty. Still, he’s got a ton of money and has achieved quite a bit already, so maybe he should call it quits and find another series. Screw world Superbike, he should go do road racing at the Isle of Man. Now that’d be a site to behold. Maybe even do some rallying on the site.

      P.S
      One thing they forgot to mention is Jeremy Burgess’ own recent struggles, with his wife being diagnosed with cancer. I’m sure Ducati has an abundance of talented engineers, but Jeremy’s input definitely plays a big part.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Worst thing I have ever seen on motorcycledaily.com”

      dirck, i’m with dave. there’s plenty of this “dogpile on the rabbit”, “cut off your nose to spite your face”, mob mentality occuring over in europe. what us yanks have is a golden opportunity to distinguish ourselves by NOT adding to it.

      if you think it through (problem is nobody thinks anymore), there’s absolutely NOTHING to be gained by “cannibalizing” rossi. NOTHING AT ALL. in contrast, there is however ALOT that can be lost. a “FUKK-TON” actually when you consider the 100’S OF MILLIONS on the line for the construction of circuit of the americas alone. dean adams paraphrasing comments from gil campbell (ceo of laguna) said rossi is a “one man ticket generator”. this mind you, all in reference to one man… not an american… AN ITALIAN…!!! it is what it is.

      Q: with fellow italians capirossi RETIRED, and simoncelli (rossi’s hier apparent) DEAD and buried, how can hastening a premature retirement announcement out of MotoGP’s remaining italian star possibly help the series or the industry…?

      A: IT WON’T.

      • Tim says:

        Q: How is a man’s decline from a legend to an also-ran going to help the sport?
        A: it won’t

        the whole thing begins to look like a bad “reality” show.
        every athlete, no matter how great, HAS TO retire. That is the inevitable truth, and there is nothing wrong with that. The trick is to realize that you’re past your prime. Rossi could become a “face” of MotoGP, a commentator, promoter, whatever. That would be much better than turning into MotoGP’s equivalent of Evander Holyfield – a stubborn, old, sad parody of his former greatness

        • Norm G. says:

          (whatchu talkin’ bout willis)

          you do realize he’s only 33 years old right…?

          Q1: how old was biaggi in 2010 when he and aprilia won WSBK…?

          Q2: wait, how old was checa 2 weekends ago when he did the double in italy…? :)

    • Chris says:

      Everyone is entitled to their point of view, Dave. Capirossi did not ride the bike very well, though he did win races on it. Nicky has not ridden it well. – Casey used the extra speed in 2007 to his advantage. He blew people away on the straight. Rossi was out three races as was Pedrosa. – THIS Ducati is not the one Casey rode. – Dirck just wrote what he thought and felt about this. Why garbage? The article may prove true or not. It has us thinking and talking about it. The young guns are outpacing Rossi, regardless of who is riding what. Rossi SHOULD be more humble about the bike. He KNEW the Honda and Yamaha were faster. Ago won his last title at age 33. Hailwood won his titles in his 20s. Rossi is clearly frustrated riding mid pack. I cannot blame him. It is his truth. I do not think it is excuses. It is fact. Nowhere near Honda and Yamaha. He is being paid but he is also human which I think we got used to forgetting.

  42. x-planer says:

    Harsh but hard to argue with.

  43. Olivier says:

    This is a very well written and well balanced article.It is probably time for Ducati to work more closely with the satellite teams.

    • Norm G. says:

      FROM DICTIONARY.COM…

      bal·anced [bal-uhnst]

      adjective

      1. being in harmonious or proper arrangement or adjustment, proportion, etc.

      Synomyms

      1. fair, equitable, just, impartial, evenhanded.