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Could Rossi Still Switch to Honda Next Year?

When one of the senior executives with Dorna stated several weeks ago in an interview words to the effect that Rossi “would be on a competitive bike next year“, speculation ran wild.  Since then, Rossi has publicly asserted his devotion to Ducati and cozied up with the brass at Audi, Ducati’s new owner.

Now, a French web site is quoting the Honda boss (HRC head Shuhei Nakamoto) as stating “For next year, it was not possible to integrate Rossi into the official Repsol team [which will now consist of the Spaniards Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez], but I am willing to offer him an official bike in a satellite team.”  Nakamoto went on to indicate, reportedly, that there could be no bad blood between himself and Valentino, because Nakamoto was in charge of the Honda Formula 1 effort when Rossi rode for Honda.

You may recall that Rossi’s late good friend, Marco Simoncelli, rode a full factory Honda race bike while under a satellite team’s umbrella.  Apparently, the same option would be available to Rossi in 2012.


  1. mickey says:

    You know you guys keep saying how relevant and fantabulous WSBK is, but if you look back at the postings here on MCD following each race, in MotoGP it’s been Mugello 13 comments Sachenring 14, Assen 8, Britain 10, Catalunya 12, Lemans 12, Estril 18, Jerez 18

    while in WSBK, other than Donnington which had 17, and Misano which had 1, … the rest Brno, Motorland, and Miller have each had 0 comments.

    How exciting and relevant can a series be if on an international motorcycle website, basically nobody is even discussing it?

    At least MotoGP generates some interest/comments.

    Truth is, WSBK is filled with guys who basically couldn’t consistantly win in MotoGP , so it wouldn’t suprise me if Hayden,Edwards and Spies eventually ends up there. I would be suprised if Rossi, Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Divisoso, Crutchlow or Rossi ended up racing WSBK. The only way I see that happening is if MotoGP is dissolved.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “How exciting and relevant can a series be if on an international motorcycle website, basically nobody is even discussing it?”

      i’m sure dirck and the fellas are flattered regarding the esteem in which you (and many of us) hold motorcycledaily, but it’s simply NOT the best barometer for gauging the popularity or unpopularity of WSBK.

      re: “Truth is, WSBK is filled with guys who basically couldn’t consistantly win in MotoGP”

      well that, or guys who were fed up with it’s politics…? or whose teams had folded…? or who simply had an epiphany that “star-effing” ain’t really much a business model…?

      in stark contrast to football, the so-called “star players” in this sport can actually GET KILLED during the course of a “game”. death here effectively scuttles the whole franchise and the fortunes of all assoctiated. 🙁 according to forbes, this is not a concern for manchester united or real madrid.

    • Dave says:

      People who are satisfied rarely talk about it as much as those who are disappointed. Most of the Moto GP discussion has been about riders failing to live up to their billing and what’s wrong with Moto GP in general.

      • mickey says:

        Really? …. people are so happy with it they don’t want to express their pleasure, or say how exciting or close the racing was. Wow, that’s a new one for me.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “People who are satisfied rarely talk about it as much as those who are disappointed.”

        and there it is. content crowds are “silent” crowds. who knew…? well ‘cept maybe dave.

  2. kirk66 says:

    My take: Rossi has only two options with Honda- Gresini or his own team. Floating rumors are that Gresini cannot afford to lease “prototype” machines and will field two CRT bikes next year. Or he starts his own team (which he could certainly afford) and run the last Factory bike in HRC. Both are unlikely.
    More likely is that he stick with Audi/Ducati one more season and Nick get’s booted to the curb or that he take Marlboro and start a Factory backed Yamaha M1 team.
    I pick Ducai in this event. Seems highly plausible that Ducati and Audi turn loose the R&D dogs and start listening to Rossi and Nick then they would be onto something. Someone printed an article that seemed to make sense to me and to paraphrase the Ducati standpoint was “you aren’t riding our bikes right” and they refuse to believe that “their” engineering is the issue and that it’s a rider issue.
    End the end- Ducati & Rossi will team for next season

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I pick Ducai in this event. Seems highly plausible that Ducati and Audi turn loose the R&D dogs and start listening to Rossi and Nick then they would be onto something.”

      personally i’m picking option D. “none of the above”.

      i hope they prove me wrong, but given the past 2 seasons, once the accountants get hold of the numbers i don’t see audi spending DIME ONE on grandprix. the “least risk/max return” option is over in WSB (assuming they are going to bother with racing at all?). retain the services of ross and nick and shift them (and crew) over to an official 2 bike audi sponsored factory team. althea then gets 2 bikes as the official satellite team receiving factory support. that yields 4 bikes with 4 data streams as would be typical for accelerating development of a new model (all indicators are they’re gonna need it).

      just a guess, but they could do all that for a fraction of the expense in grandprix all with a better chance of success ta boot…? in the context of a manufacturer trying to broaden market share during a recession, these types of efficiencies are hard to resist. the panigale’s here, and as audi’s a company that prides themselves on engineering, there basically ain’t A SNOWBALLS CHANCE IN HELL the considerable r&d cost ALREADY sunk into the 1199 is going to get overlooked.

  3. Pedro J Diaz says:

    and BTW, for those who complain of getting tired of the Rossi era. We are experiencing Michael Jordan-like history. Truly the GOAT for a generation at least. Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, all aliens as well, but they don’t have the skill of studying their rival in front for 10 laps, testing them, then KNOWING when and were to make the pass with 2 laps to go. He is not just skilled like they are, he has the extra intangible skill of visualizing in an unconscious way where to turn his body that extra one half degree, turn the throttle an extra millimeter, and to within 5/1000 of a second in timing. THAT is why he deserves the title of GOAT.

  4. Pedro J Diaz says:

    <<>> I have not read such, but he made Yamaha what it now is, it would be fitting for him to finish his career there. As for Marlboro, the reason they have 2 races in the U.S., a hemisphere away from the other races is to a) bring in some of the US viewership, and b) bring in American sponsors.
    Many complain about the cost. Well, so is F1. We should not go backwards, but forward.

    Solution: find more sponsors. I am not sure of how many US companies throw money there other than Monster. But, if we had Coca Cola, who is about to pay $11 billion to buy Monster, (when Ducati sold for $2 bil), we can also get Coca Cola to put in $5 million, then Mountain Dew won’t be far behind.
    Therefore, I support adding the Texas raceway in the schedule. Increased US viewership can double TV moneys.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Solution: find more sponsors.”

      you have your “cart” in front of your “horse” my friend. the solution is for us to FIRST demonstrate our willingness as motorcycle consumers to COME OFF THE DIME. only once we have shown ourselves to be a demographic worth targeting…? then (AND ONLY THEN) will we find more sponsors. shooting fish in a barrel this.

      2 reason brands like visa, cheerios, geico, and M&M’s sponsor nascar and spend multi-millions on superbowl commercials is because #1, those entertainment outlets appeal to 97% of the population and #2, the “fan-sumers” of THOSE sports don’t begrudge the associated businesses a profit. compare/contrast that to what WE do representing only 3% of the population…? in our minds “ice skating up hill” is something to do. 🙁

  5. rg500gamma says:

    Gracious, the start of the downward arc. From GOAT candidate and #1 rider on bottomless pocket race team to World Champion again on team with a bit less buck but less arrogance, to #1 rider on much smaller team with much smaller budget but all that Italian flair (that sure gets you to the checkered flag, yeah) to coming full circle back with the manufacturer where you started your GP supremacy, on a SATELLITE team. Yeah, you get a works bike, but please, does your satellite team have works money, works update access, works testing schedule and track time, in house development? Ah, WSBK will be next and Vale descends yet another ring in the divine comedy that is motorcycle racing. Audi has no WRC presence, does it?

  6. team222 says:

    Maybe stepping back from MotoGP a bit would have some of us thinking

    1. The bikes and race teams are simply 2 expensive…….the fields 2 small
    2. Few of the races have close racing after a 2 laps
    3. The bikes might be just 2 fast for 99.2% of all professional road racers

    One solution for MotoGP riders that are into the 2 part of their MotoGP careers……2 old, 2 slow, 2 unable to find a ride ….would be to race World Superbike.

    I think it is possible this year that there will be a migration of MotoGP riders to World Superbike….count me in if this does happen.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I think it is possible this year that there will be a migration of MotoGP riders to World Superbike….count me in if this does happen.”

      ok you’re in.

      this already has been and IS happening. barros, biaggi, checa, melandri, aoyama, hopkins and to a lesser degree, bayliss, xaus, haga, byrne, etc. the latest rumors now involve dovi, rossi, hayden, edwards, spies…?

      see, unfortunately for grandprix a “competing series” exists called WSBK (ie. the moto equivalent of the better mousetrap) and the TALENT EXODUS has long been beating a path to IT’S door.

  7. marko says:

    Would be a bad move for him to get on a Honda. They will be giving the best equipment to their new prodigy, Marc Marquez. Yamaha seems like the best move for him.

  8. butch hooven says:


  9. yaman says:

    listen, valentino is the greatest. BUT MotoGP has become very boring. It is not just tires…the technology has become so advanced that it has taken the soul out of the sport. Also, with a three million dollar minimum to put a bike on the grid, it has removed a lot of rookies. I love all the riders…but now the outcomes are not even watching…the grid is shrinking…and so is the money

  10. Vrooom says:

    It sure as heck would be nice if Ducati had a competitive machine just to add some interest to the Lorenzo/Stoner/Pedrosa parade.

  11. LarryC says:

    Anybody else sick of the Rossi soap opera?

  12. Johnne Lee says:

    VR’s future is in an Audi R18 e-tron quattro or something similar.

    He will resign with Duc-Audi.

  13. Al says:

    Other sites are linking him with Yamaha and a return of Marlboro sponsorship. The silly season is underway.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Other sites are linking him with Yamaha and a return of Marlboro sponsorship. The silly season is underway.”

      silly season indeed. 7 years on, that’s gotta have the tobacco ban regulators splitting their sides.

    • Al says:

      Marlboro (Phillip Morris) was, and still is a Ducati sponsor. They cannot advertise on the bike but they can still sponsor.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “They cannot advertise on the bike but they can still sponsor.”

        ok then what value “stealth sponsorship”…? if this is a joke, madison avenue isn’t laughing.

  14. EZ Mark says:

    I really wanted Rossi to win one more title so he would be the undisputed greatest ever, but he’ll be 34 next year so I don’t see it happening.
    Oh well, no shame in sharing the record with Agostini.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I really wanted Rossi to win one more title so he would be the undisputed greatest ever, but he’ll be 34 next year so I don’t see it happening.”

      biaggi and checa shoot daggers at you from their eyes.

    • GuyLR says:

      Mike Hailwood won the Isle of Mann TT at 40. Rossi on the right bike can still be there. You know what they say, Old age and cunning beat youth and enthusiasm every time.

  15. MotoChris says:

    Negotiation tactics, pure and simple. He puts the word out there that he’s shopping around, Ducati/Audi will get him what he needs (and it isn’t money).

    • Gary says:

      “Get him what he needs” ???!!!

      I am pretty sure they are already DESPERATE to give him what needs to win, but so far they’ve been out-engineered by Honda/Yamaha. Not sure what additional motivation they need. They’ve already been humiliated.

  16. rapier says:

    Off topic but Moto GP is a mess. Essentially the entire thing is about tires. Setting aside the spec tire issue the tires are astounding, but only under a very specific set of circumstances for only a few miles.

    I propose to make the races twice as long. This will eliminate the damn super tires and the impossible demands they place on machine and rider. Then maybe there will be racing again.

    Intimately related is the stupid move back up in displacement which only makes the super tires more important and their job more impossible. Does anyone think that Hailwood vs Agostini was bad racing? Hold up your hand.

    Moto GP is at a dead end, racing wise. It will still go on as an event but as racing it’s a joke.

  17. americo ney says:

    valentino is a fatastic pilot everybody knows, even Hogtied.
    when Rossi was “working” for honda people, they sad for him that honda bike didn’t need a special pilot,every one coud be chanpion, so he proved the contrary with the yamahas,if “the doctor” returns to honda it will be nasty.

    • Doc says:

      Apparently there is more to the bike being a factor as opposed to it being mostly the rider as Rossi said in his dispute with Honda. If that wasn’t the case, Rossi would be leading the championship.

  18. mickey says:

    Personally if Rossi were to hop brands mid contract I would lose a lot of respect for him, and I really admire Val. however, to me a man who signs a contract, fulfills that contract before moving on. If he wasn’t interested in riding for Ducati, he shouldn’t have accepted their money. I can understand it must be hard riding on an uncompetitive bike, but he knew that was the case going in. Man up Valentino.

    • Dave says:

      There are two sides to a contract. Chances there are a long list of things he was promised (presumably resulting in a competitive machine) that were not delivered. It appears that he’s enduring more of the same. Race fans would rather see him winning or failing on a bike that we know is capable then see him fester on a team that can’t get it together.

    • Chris says:

      Mid contract? What are you talking about. Rossi signed a two year contract with Ducati. THIS is currently year two of that contract. With this contract almost done, the question becomes will he stay with Ducati or ride for someone else.

      • mickey says:

        When his current contract is up I have no problem with him going to another manufacturer, as a matter of fact would encourage him to do so. Apparently he cannot win on the Duc. I believe Ducati has worked very hard to give him what he wants in a bike. Different frames from carbon fibre to Aluminum, different motors, different electronics packages ad nauseum. Im pretty sure Duc has paid some very expensive enineers and machinists plenty of overtime trying to fulfill VRs demands for hs motorcycle. Stoner won on the Duc, Nicky has qualified well on the Duc, and has run in the top group several times before he ran out of talent. Nicky’s Duc was the fastest bike on the track last week at 216 mph, and if he hadn’t made an error in the last few turns had a chance at a podium, and another chance to finish ahead of VR. Nicky has actually been pretty impressive on the Duc this year considering his ability.

        Like I said I really admire Val, he’s an unbelievably talented motorcycle racer, one of the top three ever, but he needs to show more class than a James Stewart, to fulfill his obligation without a bunch of drama and whining, and at the end of his contract, thank his sponsors wo gave him multi millions of dollars for everything they did for him, and then if he so desires move on.

        • Chris says:

          The “drams” is probably part of being perhaps the greatest of all time. I don’t think he is whining. He wants to win. He was winning on the Yamaha before leaving for Ducati. He wants changes made so that he can go back to winning races. I am not following the “lack of class” comment/argument… Val can’t control the media anymore than any other ride.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “he needs to show more class than a James Stewart, to fulfill his obligation without a bunch of drama and whining”

          that sword cuts both ways… what of the obligation ducati and the sponsors have to fulfill…? 3 and 4 months for engine and chassis updates that only keep getting pushed back…? rest assured none of this is in the contract they BOTH signed. there’s no “at will” employment going on at this level like the rest of us schmucks are subject to.

      • Tim says:

        You assume Ducati wants him to stay. They’ve not exactly gotten their money’s worth. He’s been nothing but bad publicity for them (if the GOAT can’t even be competitive on the Ducati, how bad must the bike be? You just know a lot of fans are thinking that.)

        • Chris says:

          True. Nicky seems to be doing better than Vale on the Ducati…

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “They’ve not exactly gotten their money’s worth.”

          sales are up YTD on expensive bikes during a recession and for the first time north america has become ducati’s #1 market.

          i’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you simply missed that announcement, rather than assume you are deliberately leaving out information so as to make your point.

          • Tim says:

            With all due respect, you can’t seriously believe increased sales are primarily the result of Rossi finishing middle to back of the pack on his Ducati. I believe Ducati’s sales success has more to do with the new bikes they’ve come out with the past 2 years. The Italians do understand style. While Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki have been slow coming out with new models due to the world wide recessioon, the brands that have introduced new products have benefitted with market share gains. Triumph, BMW, Kawasaki and Ducati didn’t panic in terms of development and it has paid off. Very few people would buy ducati’s just because of who rides them. Now if Rossi was winning on Sundays…then I’d be willing to concede he’s had a large impact on Ducati sales, but he’s not even been competitiive. I’m a big Rossi fan. He’s my favorite rider. I would love to see him be successful again. My comment was not a cut at Rossi, but rather a statement indicating that Ducati has to be as disappointed with him as he’s been with Ducati.

          • mickey says:

            I tend to think it is more due to the fact of every moto mag gushing with praise every time a new Ducati model is released. My son bought one due to that and has been less than pleased. He won’t be buying another.

          • Tim says:

            You are probably right about that, Mickey. The guys at Motorcyclist, especially, all seem to get cubbies every time Ducati releases a new model. But you have to give their stylists credit. Most of them are attractive, and also I have to credit them for introducing new models when other companies pulled in their reins.

          • Dave says:

            Sales are up YTD but against what? They have been struggling terribly and just changed hands for the second time in a decade? NA being their biggest market could be a function of how tough the economy is in other markets as well, not necessarily growth in NA. For all the things us moto-purists like about Ducati they have not been a picture of business success for it.

    • chris says:

      he did it with the tyres, michelin helped him cheat with special overnight tyres just for him, giving him a unfair advantage for years….. as soon as stoners tyres were thought to be better, he dumped michelin overnight and went with bridgestone mid season… no respect

  19. Hogtied says:

    He’s Italian.. I don’t see it happening.

    • Gutterslob says:

      Actually, it’s been said* that Rossi’s mindset and methodical approach to testing/development has a lot more in common with the way the Japanese factories work.

      * was in an interview with Burgees on MCN