Valentino Rossi’s Ducati gamble is over. After two seasons with the Italian marque he will return to Yamaha next season.
When the seven-time MotoGP king and Ducati got together at the end of 2010, it was greeted as MotoGP’s marriage of the century. The dream team has since failed to produce results, however. Rossi has been unable to come to terms with the Desmosedici V4, despite Ducati abandoning traditional chassis concepts in a bid to please its star rider. He has scored just two podium finishes from 30 race starts.
Ducati — recently acquired by Audi — was desperate to retain Rossi’s services, telling him that Audi’s technical department would be available to its engineers and offering a salary several times what Yamaha can pay. Rossi’s priority, however, is making sure he’s on board a competitive motorcycle. At 33 years old he can’t be far from the end of
his MotoGP career and he is keen to spend his remaining time racing at the front, rather than working as a development rider for a factory that has been strangely unable to get on top of its problems.
“I made my choice because I have tried to understand what will be the most competitive bike for the next few years, which might be the last of my career,” said Rossi. “At this stage I have to enjoy my racing, to fight and to be in a happy frame of mind when I get to the circuits.”
For the next two years Rossi — who has won four MotoGP crowns with Yamaha — will partner the 2010 MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. The pair were Yamaha team-mates in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before Rossi defected, complaining that the team wasn’t big enough for both of them. This time their roles will be reversed, with Rossi the junior team-mate.