Rossi: “Have to Understand If I’m Still a Top Rider”

08/16/2012 @ 9:22 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Rossi: Have to Understand If Im Still a Top Rider Indianapolis GP Thursday Jules Cisek 03 635x423

Talking to journalists for the first time since the announcements that he would be leaving Ducati and joining Yamaha, Valentino Rossi provided some interesting insights today at the Indianapolis GP pre-even press conference, which showed his reasoning for the switch in teams, as well as how Rossi views his future in MotoGP. Perhaps the most interesting remark from The Doctor was his own questioning of his alien status, saying that he no longer knew whether he was a top rider in the sport.

Beyond the opportunity to question Rossi over his decision to move back to Yamaha, there was ample build-up, by both fans and journalists. The build-up of course pertained to seeing Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi in the same room with each other, as highly critical statements by Stoner were made this week in the media over Rossi’s tenure at Ducati. Putting the kibosh on the expected fight between the two riders, Stoner made it clear that the article in question was a composite of statements he has said in the press over the pass one and a half years, and that he made none of those statements in the past week.

Another interesting point included Rossi conceding that rival Jorge Lorenzo would be the #1 rider in the factory Yamaha team, though Lorenzo admitted later in the press conference that the distinction carried little weight when it came to parts and development, as Yamaha supplied riders equally within the team. Unwilling to talk money figures with his contract, Rossi would also not speculate on whether he and Lorenzo would share the same livery, i.e. sponsors, for next season.

With the atmosphere in the room palpable, Rossi fans will be interested in hearing The Doctor talk about his career with new uncertainty, and dwell on the possibility that the best of his motorcycle racing years might be behind him. A selected portion of the press conference transcript is after the jump.

MODERATOR: …Valentino, you kept your promise. You said at Laguna you would tell us what was going to happen. We’ve read all the announcements, and you will be joining a new team next season.

VALENTINO ROSSI: Yes. After Laguna and the summer break, I have enough time for to think more deeply to my future. You know, this is a great pity for me and Ducati and for all of our fans, but especially for all the guys that work with me at this project because I want to try to be competitive. Italian rider with Italian bike, but unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. These two seasons are very difficult, and we struggling very much. Unfortunately, we were not able to improve our speed, our performance, and to fight for the good position, for the front position.

So I decide for this that it is enough and my choice is because I try to understand which is the best bike, the more competitive bike for the next two years that maybe at the end of my career or, you know, but anyway, the last part, and this is the choice. It’s a great pity. I’m very sad, also, because I in Ducati find a lot of good people. We had great times together. We try the maximum, but unfortunately we were not able to achieve the result. So this is what makes the difference.

MODERATOR: Eight races to go with Ducati, and I’m sure, as always, you will be there with it.

ROSSI: Yes, are very important because unfortunately we have to speak about the next year very early in the season. But we still have eight races. And now is an important moment because first, this track for me, is always — I was able to win in 2008, but it is a difficult track for me. Last year was very bad. So we have to keep the concentration of me with my team and try to make the maximum.

And after is an important period because Brno is a good track, and after Brno we will have some important tests in Misano, and we have to try to improve the bike to improve our pace for the rest of the races because, anyway, eight races is a long way.

MODERATOR: And you rejoined Jorge next year, which will be interesting, I would imagine.

ROSSI: Yeah, will be interesting. Now the situation change a lot compared to the past, compared to 2008 when Jorge arrive to Yamaha. Now he’s the No. 1 in the team, and our relationship are good. I have respect for him, and he have respect for me. So I think we can stay together. I am sure that together we can form a great team for Yamaha, for try to achieve good result in the next seasons.

Q: Vale, you said you would put everything in a balance and you would make a decision. Which has been the reasons have made you decide for Yamaha?

ROSSI: I had some different options, and I tried to choose the best bike for me for the next two seasons and just this for the rest — the rest of the contract is not a problem. I’m happy about the contract for the next two seasons. I know that I can be stronger with the M1 and especially can enjoy because, you know, the next two seasons for me will be hard, especially try to stay with Jorge, also to beat Jorge, because now he’s very, very fast. But I need a bike for enjoy. At this moment of my career I have to enjoy, I have to try to fight and to arrive happy at the racetrack.

ROSSI: So I think my crew come with me. More or less the same guys that come with me from Yamaha to Ducati. But is still not decided 100 percent. I think we have to fix some of the ties.

And about my future will depends a lot from the result of the next two seasons. Because I want to remain more than two seasons in MotoGP but depends how much I’m strong and I’m fast with the M1. And to have the opportunity for the future for Superbike, yeah, I always say. But it’s very early to say, because I hope to be faster, to be competitive, to enjoy and remain in MotoGP more than two season.

Q: Do you still believe that you could get a world title or will you be happy to just win some races next year?

ROSSI: For sure, the world title is a dream. But in my condition now, especially you have to understand if I’m still a top rider, if I’m still fast, and if I can fight for the front row, if I can still fight for the podium. I don’t know, because after two seasons like this, nobody knows. So before I speak about the championship, I have to understand if I can fight from the front row, I can fight for the podium. And after, we will see.

Q: Did you ask to keep a wall between you –

ROSSI: No, no, nothing. We will be very close with Jorge if he agrees. (Laughter) For me, no problem.

LORENZO: No problem, no problem.

Q: Valentino, Casey has said this week, described a humbling experience for you. Has this been humbling, this a disappointing time –

STONER: I want to clarify that. That was a lot of context taken out. It was the whole last year and a half. I never did interview and never said anything like that last week. I still stand by what I said, but it’s been over the last year and a half that it was put together.

Q: OK. So has this been a humbling experience for you?

ROSSI: I don’t know what’s been humbling? (Confusion over the translation of the word) Oh, I cannot say no. I mean, you can use which word you prefer. I mean it was very, very difficult, is very difficult. It’s not true that we don’t try, we try the maximum. But we were never able to be — I was never able to be fast with the Ducati, and this is a great, great pity, a very bad thing, especially for me and for my team.

Q: Jorge, you said that you have no possibility to choose your teammate. But do you have any priority in the technical development of the bike for the future or you will — you have to fight on track to get this leadership?

LORENZO: To be honest, I really think if I negotiate in the contract, if I say not to sign some rider, I will have him. But anyway, I never cared about my teammate, I will not care in the future. For me it is a pleasure to be again with Valentino, two more years with the same bike. So for me, everything is positive.

Q: Also, for the technical point of view?

LORENZO: Yamaha never have No. 1 rider given the best performance bike or the best pieces, no. So it will never be different, I think.

Q: Casey, are you surprised that Valentino decided to go back to Yamaha?

STONER: No. I think, you know, after two years like this it must be difficult, must be a little bit embarrassing. He needs to understand if he’s competitive again. So going with a bike that he knows he was last fast with and maybe the only opportunity for a different manufacturer on a factory bike. So I think, you know, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next year. But, no, not — it’s not a strange decision after two seasons like this; it’s got to be difficult. So it’s better to try and be competitive again on something which you know he’s competitive.

Q: Vale, you tell us before that now Jorge is the main Yamaha rider and do you think you are going to be able, do you hope you are going to be at his level now? After these two years yourself, do you think watching them on the track that the Yamaha could give you what you missed on the Ducati and to be faster just from the right moment?

ROSSI: This is a good question. So looking in the track now is not enough, the Yamaha, because the difference is so big. No, apart from the joke, I mean in the last seasons, Jorge has become more strong than when I was with him in Yamaha — oh, in 2010 he was very strong. And he ride the M1 at an incredible level without do any mistake. So for me it’s a question mark for me, I don’t know.

And also because, you know, in the last seasons I think mainly three riders make the difference, him and Dani and Stoner. I was with them until 2010, so I consider — I was considering a top rider.

But after these two seasons, no, I don’t know. So I have to try another time the bike. After the last race, but after I have to work very much on me and together with my team for go at the maximum and try to understand my level now with the M1.

Q: Valentino, again talking about money. The rumor says that you will carry a lot of money to Yamaha. Can you confirm or not? And then you also someone says could be two different, separate teams with different color. Also this could be an option?

ROSSI: These are just bullshit. I don’t know why I have to bring money to race with Yamaha. I am happy about my contract, and my contract is fixed. So I hope that Yamaha can find a good sponsor for next year. I think speak with some other guys and — yes, it’s true speak with Monster but already before I arrive. And the team will not be separate, for sure.

I don’t know if maybe have one bike one sponsor, the other bike a little bit different, but I think no. I think will be all the same.

Q: Jorge, has another energetic drink?

ROSSI: Yeah, yeah, this is possible. But seriously, I don’t know because my contract is closed. It’s no difference for me if arrive with sponsor or I have to bring some sponsor. This is not true.

MODERATOR: OK, just one more and that’s it. This will be the last one. Thank you.

Q: Once again for you, Valentino. Over these two years, how have they changed yourself, not as a rider but as a man?

ROSSI: I don’t know. A lot of people say that in the difficult moment, in the bad moment people become stronger, so I hope. Because I, for sure, was very difficult from the beginning. So is long time that I am here to fight, unfortunately not to win, but I enjoy to ride, and unfortunately we are not able to create the perfect match between me and Ducati. And this has become very, very difficult. Also because for sure all the other guys are very strong.

But for about me, myself, for me it doesn’t change a lot.

Source: IMS; Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. dc4go says:

    I hope Rossi gets it together but man what a waste of $$$$ he turned out to be for Ducati… bitched and complained about everything and in the end the results sucked and he jumped ship… Erasing his signature of my D16RR for good…. Can Ducati get a refund for his services??

  2. John says:

    Yamaha supplies riders with parts equally? At the risk of sounding like a USA homer, you expect me to believe that Spies, which a collapsing swing arm, broken subframe, etc., is getting the same sort of parts as Lorenzo (who has zero mechanical failures on the season)? I’m not even suggesting Spies is on Lorenzo’s level speed-wise, but to think Lorenzo is not the SOLE focus of Yamaha’s factory efforts is not only naive, but downright laughable.

  3. Bryan says:

    He is not going to have any trouble I predict getting back on terms with the Yamaha. Remembering that after his last Valencia ride on the Ducati, Stoner got on the Honda in the test and blitzed everyone. Settled right in.
    The only barrier for Rossi I reckon (and hard to say it) is his age. Have the last 2 years taken its toll on confidence, commitment, and stolen the last good years he possibly had. Will soon find out.

  4. Beary says:

    To paraphrase MotoGP terminology, “For Sure” Rossi is wondering whether he still has it after the disaster that was Ducati, Stoner sticking the boot in was warranted I think, especially after the bullshit that Burgess and Rossi sent his direction, and the equal amount of BS and treachery Ducati management put Stoner through, when Stoner put his arse on the line to win on Duacti, as that was the only way to win on it, and Ducati paid him back by offerring other riders more money, going behind his back.

    For sure, Ducati deserved Rossi, a failure of an ex-champion refusing to ride the bike how it needs to be ridden, but instead wanting endless development and changes, that come to nothing anyway, cause Rossi was in fact, never up to the challenge. showing once and for all that Rossi needs a friendly bike to win, Stoner, not so much, a winner on anything, willing to ride with his heart in his mouth. But Rossi did not deserve Ducati, no one does, all you can seem to hope for riding for them is to be mid pack, on a bike that is stunted by egos in the factory, in the dev team, it’s Italian-ness is it’s own undoing. Ducati does not deserve to be a factory team in MotoGP any more, How I miss Aprilia, Kawasaki, Suzuki.

  5. Westward says:

    Ducati does not deserve to be a factory team in MotoGP any more..?

    How dramatic… Kawasaki left Melandri and Hopkins twisting in the wind. Melandri thought he had a factory ride, and ended up on a satellite Kawasaki. As for Suzuki, they could not even expend the resources to help Haslam in WSBK. They wasted Capirossi and Bautista’s time…

    Preziosi’s attempt to enlist Furusawa’s help, and accept a demotion as lead engineer, was a huge humbling gesture. Even though Rossi failed to win on their bike, they still offered the world to try and keep him. Obviously, they don’t think Rossi was a waste of money, and they still believed in him ability. Guerschi himself said they had no plan B if Rossi left…

    The fact that Ducati are still in MotoGP and even strategizing to field a junior team to further development, proves they have more heart for racing than Kawasaki in MotoGP (WSBK is another story). Suzuki has zero presence in MotoGP (at least Kawasaki has a CRT bike) and their effort in WSBK might as well be described as a CRT of that series…

    Rossi inability to get along with the Ducati was more humbling for Ducati than it was for Rossi… Their treatment of Stoner in hindsight was not the best, but at the time they had no real reference as to how to handle the situation. Their design and development direction was so radical, plus they never dealt with the so called mystery illness issue before (no racing effort ever had)…

  6. RT @Asphalt_Rubber Rossi: "Have to Understand If I'm Still a Top Rider" – http://t.co/WH2yonfh #motorcycle

  7. ai1 says:

    In an interview for an italian TV the journalist asked Rossi why he went to Ducati and Rossi said that they told him they need someone to help them make a better bike, a bike that every rider could ride an win with, they promised him they would listen to everything he says and will do anything to make that bike, but as soon as he wore the Ducati colors they wanted him to win with the bike they had and weren’t really listening to him. The journalist than asked Rossi if he has any advice for Dovizioso or Ducati and he said that he would like to give an advice to Ducati, to listen to what the riders says and not trust the numbers their computer gives them.

  8. Adam says:

    Wow so many people slagging on some one they have never meet. it is easy being an armchair athlete and I find it amazing how much insider information you athletes have on the inner workings of this race series. not just on this forum but else were as well. but it goes to show you for the most part this site and MM is good for providing correct information and not making false statements of recent interviews and piecing it together with quotes over the past year and a half…. eh MCN… eh. lol.

  9. Beary says:

    Dramatic…. not really…your view. But forgive me as I flog a dead horse….the ‘mystery illness’ was to me, a mental breakdown from Stoner. I don’t buy the lactose intolerance story. Lactose intolerance is not something you ‘suddenly discover’ it’s something you would have had to deal with all your life, you don’t develop it suddenly. Stoner would have had to deal with the dizzy spells, chronic fatigue etc from his youth, and he didn’t ever have these issues until Ducati started treating him like a meat puppet. To my view, Stoner acts and says things, like a person suffering from depression does, or at least a form of mental illness does. In my view, Stoner’s absence was caused by Ducati’s treatment of him, plus of course, Stoner’s inability to deal with it, or mentally process it. I certainly don’t think that Ducati treated him badly *because* of the time off he took, quite the inverse is true.

    I think it’s interesting you’re willing to put the boot into Kawasaki and Suzuki, while holding up Ducati as some sort of saviour for juniors (hmmm….lets see how many fast juniors and rooks low-side week after week riding that bike), when Ducati have consistantly produced a career-destroying bike that only one very special rider was able to tame and make Ducati look better than it deserved.

    Offerring Rossi ‘the world’ as Ducati did, the $$, Furusawa (who’s fierce Japanese loyalty morally forbade him from accepting what would have also been, a huge $$ offer) was not just because of a belief in Rossi’s ability! that is being short-sighted. it was *also* to try and stop the enormous damage that one of the best Italian riders has now done to Ducati’s rep, in turning his back on the #1 Italian brand, he is saying he has no faith in Preziosi, Ducati factory, Audi $$ and the promised future development, he is saying to the world that although he is Rossi, a man who many (not me) believe is the GOAT, the Ducati is a piece of crap that he doesn’t ever want to ride again.

    Has Rossi been humbled ? it doesn’t appear so, no. He says it ‘hasn’t changed him as a man’ so clearly he still has enormous faith in his own ability, even though it has been clearly demonstrated to him that his own ability has come up short, in fact being beaten by people like Hectic Hector on lesser machinery must surely show you something, not Rossi though. Interesting the egos of Superstars, what they will permit themselves.

  10. David says:

    I like the honesty from Rossi questioning whether he still has what it takes to ride at the top.

    I just can’t help but like the guy.

    Wouldn’t it be something if he somehow won Indy on the Duc?

  11. The universe would explode if that happened.

  12. Doug says:

    regardless of your perspective next year, the pressure is on…

    Ducati fans:

    Audi’s development of the TDI R10 diesels and their DEBUT win at one of the toughest races means their bar is very high. That level of excellence seems like the only change that would improve synergy between engineers and the race team. Rossi leaving Audi (Ducati) is huge incentive for their engineers.

    Rossi fans:

    Imagine losing to the Ducati next year or if Ducati wins one race. The masses will not be able to factor into that scenario the anticipated massive changes brought about by Audi. Rossi’s words in this interview were smart. Get that message out early even if there is some validity to it.

  13. Westward says:

    Again, I don’t think there is too much wrong with the Ducati, however, they don’t have control over the chassis, since they don’t make it. I suspect that will be their main focus for next year, and since Rossi is leaving, they could start now, and have something ready for Dovizioso by Valencia as a starting point of development…

    @ Beary

    “I think it’s interesting you’re willing to put the boot into Kawasaki and Suzuki, while holding up Ducati as some sort of saviour for juniors?”

    Ducati has a factory presence and planning to expand it. Where is Kawasaki’s or Suzuki’s for that matter? Your ability to spin the story in a negative fashion says more about you than the actual narrative…

    We get it, you don’t like Rossi or Ducati

    @ Doug

    Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see Rossi and Lorenzo battling for podiums against Dovizioso on his Ducati.

    I have a feeling after Rossi’s two years return to Yamaha, he might revisit a spin on the Ducati. I think he is just tired of being the guinea pig, and would rather them sort a few things out, and prove they can handle the development pace first. Between Rossi and Burgess, Ducati has enough data to work with…

    I want Ducati to develop their own chassis or give Kalex a go…

  14. JohnnieD says:

    “I like the honesty from Rossi questioning whether he still has what it takes to ride at the top.”

    – Rossi knows how to play mental games as well as work the media. That’s always been one of his strong points. I think he’s just setting himself up to be an underdog next year which he wants.

    “Where is Kawasaki’s or Suzuki’s for that matter?”

    – Yeah they were only around for what, a few decades. Then dropped out due to the cost and continual changes to the capacity/rules. Dorna helps yet hinders the sport in such a big way.

    “I think he is just tired of being the guinea pig, and would rather them sort a few things out, and prove they can handle the development pace first. Between Rossi and Burgess, Ducati has enough data to work with…”

    – Isn’t this what Rossi and Burgess said they would do? I thought Stoner and Hayden were the guinea pigs.

  15. MikeD says:

    Jensen Beeler says:
    August 17, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    The universe would explode if that happened
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ROTFLMAO. I swear, sometimes i just come for the comments.

    On another note, i think Rossi got a slight reality check…altough after reading Beary’s comments i could think like Beary did about it too.

  16. @John: “you expect me to believe that Spies, which a collapsing swing arm, broken subframe, etc., is getting the same sort of parts as Lorenzo”

    Yes. Mechanical failures happen and sometimes they happen on one side of the garage for no discernible reason. I cite Nico Rosberg’s successful campaign this year compared to the dismal results that Schumacher has experienced. And Schumi is the #1 driver for Mercedes. So, take off the tinfoil hat and put away your DVD of Conspiracy Theory. ;-)

    @Beary: “But forgive me as I flog a dead horse….the ‘mystery illness’ was to me, a mental breakdown from Stoner. I don’t buy the lactose intolerance story. Lactose intolerance is not something you ‘suddenly discover’ it’s something you would have had to deal with all your life, you don’t develop it suddenly.”

    Forgive me, but you’re flat-out wrong. Google “acquired lactose intolerance” and/or “adult lactose intolerance” and read up on it from a trusted source. The small intestine can stop making lactase at any time, but ALI is most often seen beginning the teen or adult years. From onset, it typically lasts for life.

    ~~~~~

    As for the rest of it, I think both Ducati and Rossi suffered over the last couple of years. The marriage didn’t work and it is what it is. That said, the biggest obligation Rossi has is to himself. I don’t care who you are or how much money you make, life is too short to stick with something you don’t enjoy. If Rossi wasn’t enjoying going to “work” with Ducati anymore, he owed it to both to move on. (I believe that holds true for anybody in any job, BTW.)