Photo by James Wirth
After much speculation and the “confirmed/not-comfirmed” recent interview with Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio on cycleworld.com, Ducati has officially announced its formal relationship with MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi “from 2011.”
Said Del Torchio, “We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011. He is a paragon of excellence in the world of motorcycling, coherent with our Italian company which is a standard-bearer for ‘made in Italy’ excellence. These are key values for success in technology, design and sportsmanship. In addition to the strong and passionate intent of both parties, this agreement has been made possible by the committed support of our shareholder Investindustrial and all the sponsors associated with the Ducati Marlboro Team, sponsors which have believed in this opportunity and share and support our choices.”
Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse General Director, added: “Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions. Until the Valencia GP he will remain a competitor, one so great that he has always given a special value to our victories, but as soon as he rides the Ducati for the first time, we will work together on every single detail that will develop a bike capable of showing his huge talent. Working with Valentino is one of the most exciting things for every engineer and it’s good to know we will have this great opportunity next season.”
Rossi is expected to be joined by crew chief Jeremy Burgess. Ducati’s 2007 world champion Casey Stoner, meanwhile, will join Honda next season, while current Ducati factory rider Nicky Hayden is highly likely to remain with the team for 2011.
Rossi’s effusive quote and “parting kiss” to Yamaha for all the success they enjoyed together:
“It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years.
“Many things have changed since that far-off time in 2004, but especially ‘she,’ my M1, has changed. At that time she was a poor middle-grid position MotoGP bike, derided by most of the riders and the MotoGP workers. Now, after having helped her to grow and improve, you can see her smiling in her garage, courted and admired, treated as the ‘top of the class.’
“The list of the people that made this transformation possible is very long, but I would like to thank anyway Masao Furusawa, Masahiko Nakajima and ‘my’ Hiroya Atsumi, as representatives of all the engineers that worked hard to change the face of our M1. Then Jeremy Burgess and all my guys in the garage, who took care of her with love on all the tracks of the world and also all the men and women that have worked in the Yamaha team during these years.
“Now the moment has come to look for new challenges; my work here at Yamaha is finished. Unfortunately even the most beautiful love stories finish, but they leave a lot of wonderful memories, like when my M1 and I kissed for the first time on the grass at Welkom, when she looked straight in my eyes and told me ‘I love you!’”