MotoOnline.com.au takes readers behind the scenes of news in world motorcycling this week.
It’s finally been confirmed that Valentino Rossi will be turning red in 2011 as he embarks on perhaps the biggest challenge of his illustrious career – a career that has included nine world championships including titles with Aprilia, Honda and Yamaha in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP classes respectively.
This time it’s different though as The Doctor joins an Italian team in the premier class for the first ever time, the dream team that is he and Ducati finally coming to fruition.
In a revealing interview with British Motorcycle News this week after it was announced on Sunday that he will in fact be joining Ducati, Rossi spoke about his decision to switch from Yamaha for the next two seasons.
“It is a good feeling,” he explained. “Especially because I avoid all the people in Italy from the man who sells the newspaper or the people who make the coffee who say “Why you don’t go to Ducati or when are you going to Ducati?” So now this is easier.
“At the beginning of the season I spoke to Ducati. I feel Ducati is a lot more different than in the past, a lot more open to fix all the important things of the contract together. So from that moment I started to think. In general there were two or three important things.”
Despite turning Yamaha into the GP winners that they are today with the help of Aussie crew chief Jeremy Burgess, Rossi commented that his work is now complete with Yamaha as Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo looks to be the company’s latest world champion.
“I have the feeling that my work here in Yamaha is finished,” he said. “So the situation changed a lot. We did a great job, a fantastic job with great emotion, but we modified the situation from 2004 in a positive way because now the bike is fantastic and maybe it is the best one.
“Yamaha have great riders, especially Lorenzo but also [Ben] Spies is fast. So it looks like for me here, the time is finished. I need a new adventure and some new experience. But especially a new motivation, so I decided for Ducati,” Rossi added.
One of the most interesting points of the MCN news story that you can read in its entirety by click here was that money wasn’t a factor in his decision to switch – rumoured to be up around the $20-million mark.
“I heard somewhere that it is a money choice, but I want to say that it is not true because the money I will take from Ducati is exactly the same money that Yamaha offered. There is zero difference.”
As for whether or not Rossi will be joined in red by his largely Aussie crew, spearheaded by Burgess, he says that’s yet to be decided and a decision that’s up to the crew themselves.
“For me it’s important but it is a crew choice because everybody have a different age, different ideas for the future, so they have to decide,” he said. “I hope yes, but I don’t know. The potential of the Ducati now is quite good and similar to Yamaha. Maybe the M1 is a bit better. I change from a better bike to a little bit worse bike, but not a big difference. I have to try, but I think it is not impossible.”
Let’s hope that it all turns out in the fairytale that we are so used to seeing with Rossi and that he can adapt to the Ducati with ease and be competitive off the bat, however there’s no doubt that its going to be tough with Lorenzo at his best, Spies gaining steam and set to replace him at Yamaha, while Aussie Casey Stoner has what it takes to win with Honda.
In interesting news coming out of the Brno test on Monday, Rossi has expressed his disappointment in Yamaha not allowing him to test the 2011 model Ohlins forks that were made available to the majority of the Ohlins-equipped teams on hand.
While Lorenzo and Spies spent the day on Yamaha’s 2011 model YZR-M1, Rossi remained on the current version, albeit miffed that he didn’t have access to the latest Ohlins forks that most were testing on their 2010 bikes.
With eight races remaining in the season until Rossi defects to Ducati we as fans have to hope that they continue to give him 100 percent of the support, but you just never do know what’s happening behind the scenes in the current day and age.
It’s been an all-Rossi affair in this week’s MotoGP section, however the biggest news in world motorcycle racing has pretty much stolen all the headlines this week.
This weekend will see the return of the Australian Superbike Championship to Queensland Raceway for the second round in succession, over two months after the series last held a round at the start of June.
The big question has to be the fitness of Team Suzuki’s defending champion Josh Waters – will he or won’t he be on track come the opening practice session of the weekend on Friday morning?
The reality is that not even Josh is certain at this point from what he told us earlier in the week, still fighting to regain fitness after he was injured in a testing crash at Willow Springs in California on 7 July, helicoptered out of the circuit and placed in an induced Coma due to a collapsed lung and concussion.
Waters will undergo a final medical examination on Thursday in Queensland after undergoing a CT scan in Victoria last Friday, so we’ll know then if he’ll be ready to race this weekend.
If he does return to fitness in time, Waters still has the opportunity to contest the Barber Motorsports Park round of AMA Superbike in Alabama next month with the Yoshimura-run team.
I’m actually super excited to see the ASBK boys back in action this weekend, with Bryan Staring coming off a superb doule win last time out, although he’ll have Wayne Maxwell and also Waters if he is fit to race hot on his tail on Sunday.
Also keep an eye out for Jamie Stauffer on the Ducati this time around after some improvements in testing, while Glenn Allerton has been working hard off the track and also said he was feeling confident after a recent test at the Paperclip.
Staring won on Dunlop’s 190 profile tyre last time out while his opposition all used the latest 200 profile control tyre, so it will be interesting to see who selects what tyre for this weekend.
Since Staring won on the lower profile tyre last time out it seems that would be the ideal choice on paper over a race distance, however the fact is that the guys on the 200 size rubber qualified faster and took the fastest laps in both races.
In speaking to Dunlop’s Ken Wieden last week, he confirmed that there will be enough of both sizes to provide the entire field should they lean one way or the other – sticking by the theory that the 200 is the better tyre and should be the preferred option now that teams have had more time to set their bikes up on the newer tyre.
As usual, MotoOnline will be live on hand all weekend to take in the action and provide the latest race reports, videos and images direct from the circuit throughout the weekend.
Also, don’t forget to submit your ASBK tips in our Tipping Competition on the site, which close on Saturday evening.
Who would have ever thought that a European wildcard would steal James Stewart’s thunder in his return last weekend at Unadilla’s round of the AMA Motocross Championship?
That’s exactly what happened as Suzuki’s World Motocross regular Clement Desalle stormed to second behind AMA dominator Ryan Dungey, challenging for the overall during moto two.
Meanwhile, as we all are aware by now, Stewart rode to third in moto one before pulling off following a bad start in moto two, coming as a huge disappointment to many who had anticipated a big battle between he and Dungey.
While it is James Stewart we are talking about, you do have to cut him some slack since he’s coming back from a broken wrist after sitting out the majority of the motocross season and hasn’t actually raced the outdoors in well over 12 months.
There have been rumours mounting in the U.S. that Stewart and the San Manuel team are highly considering a switch to KTM for 2011, with other speculation having Stewart in talks with Joe Gibbs Racing. Wherever he goes, Supercross 2011 is going to be on like Donkey Kong between Stewart and Dungey.
Australian MX Nationals promoter Kevin Williams was on hand at Unadilla in a recent trip to the States that also saw him visit Loretta Lynns, and in speaking with him late yesterday afternoon he said he’s got some ideas to continue building the profile of Aussie motocross after meeting with the likes of Davey Coombs over there.
After Jay Marmont’s disappointing news that he’s only been selected as a reserve for Team Australia in the Motocross of Nations due to Chad Reed returning from Epstein Barr for the event, whispers have him looking to do more than one national to round out the AMA season if he can gather support from a Yamaha team for the events.
The Australian Motocross Championship is set to have an even greater international flavour in 2011 when New Zealand’s long time World Motocross contender Josh Coppins joins the series after contemplating the idea for the last couple of years.
It’s believed that Coppins will return to Yamaha and may line up alongside defending triple champion Jay Marmont in the CDR Rockstar Energy team, also contesting the Kiwi championship to complete his season.
The addition of Coppins to the series will make a great series event better next year, and if he does indeed join Marmont at CDR you can bet that Jay’s motivation to take a record-breaking fourth straight crown will increase that much more in an all-star line-up for the boys in blue.
We’ll have to wait and see for that one, but it should trigger a number of changes throughout the pits for the new season.
Victorian-based privateer team SP Racing closed its doors after the Coolum round of the MX Nationals due to budget constraints, leaving the talented Kade Mosig without a seat for Super X in 2010 and searching for a seat while teammate Brent Landman slipped into retirement under the radar.
The good news for Mosig is that it looks as though he’ll be joining Cougar Bourbon Honda Racing for Super X in the Pro Lites class, replacing outdoor-only rider Michael Phillips on the team’s 250F. We’ll confirm it when we can, but all indications are that the deal is done, placing Mosig back into a factory role alongside Open youngster Todd Waters.
That’s all for this week, be sure to make it out to the ASBK round in Queensland if you’re from the Sunshine State, putting your support behind the sport on a domestic level and cheering on Australia’s next potential world champions.
Thanks for reading!