Holding a press conference this morning at the Wrooom media event in the Dolomite Mountains, Valentino Rossi finally got a chance to officially talk to the press about his experience testing the Ducati at Valencia late last year, and his general impressions on riding with Ducati Corse. Commenting that “the Ducati is different from all the other bikes, it’s a proper prototype, the concept is different from the Japanese factories,” Rossi went on to explain that “you need a bit of a ‘dirtier’ style to ride the Desmosedici.”
In addition to his thoughts, official photos of Rossi’s leathers (Nicky Hayden’s as well, but to less fanfare) have been released by Ducati Corse, which see Rossi’s neon yellow color scheme mixed in with the red and white of Ducati Corse. The clashing colors might not please the aesthetically critical, but we have a feeling people will get used to the arrangement. Photos of the GP11’s race livery are expected tomorrow (Wednesday).
Talking on his shoulder, Rossi admitted that he still has pain, and likely won’t be 100% at the March 20th MotoGP season opener in Qatar. Rossi hopes to be fully-healed by April, which could mean the second (Jerez) or third (Motegi) race of the season. “Honestly, I had hoped to be a little better by this time,” said Rossi. “But instead, it’s going to be quite a race to have decent fitness in time for the first test. My recovery is exactly on schedule, but it’s long: we’re working hard to at least recover mobility in my shoulder, which I’ll need to ride the bike well and to be able to fit behind the windscreen. I won’t be able to be in top form for the first test in Malaysia, because it will be impossible to regain full strength, but I hope to be able to have a good seating position. The doctors assured me that the shoulder will return to 100% in a few months.
“Obviously, it would’ve been better to be in shape now, because we’ve got a lot of work to do and not much time to do it: three tests before the championship to make the Desmosedici not only very fast—it already is—but also a little easier to ride,” explained the nine-time World Champion. “We’ll have to meet each other halfway: make the bike like I like, and as for me, adapt my riding style a little to try and make the most of the bike. It will be an emotional challenge; it will be difficult, but I’m happy because there’s a lot of extra motivation. They’re very excited at Ducati; they believe in me, and we’ll do our best!”
As expected, Nicky Hayden has officially jumped ship from Alpinestars to Dainese for the 2011 season, and accordingly will ride in Dainese leathers, boots, and gloves. Hayden however has stayed with Arai for the upcoming season, and will not be joining Rossi as an AGV helmet wearer (Rossi holds a minor interest in AGV helmets). Following the trend with Dainese riders, Hayden has opted for the leathers-over-boots look, which we know will delight at least one unnamed A&R WSBK correspondent, while the rest of us notice this for the first time.
“This my third year with Ducati,” said Hayden. “The start was a little bit difficult, but it’s gotten better and better since I’ve been on this team and on this bike. We’ve grown a lot, the bike has improved, and my relationship with the team has improved. We made a big step from the first year to the second, and I’d like to do the same this year. We know we have a good bike. We’ve made a couple of little tweaks for next year by adding some staff and a few engineers to help me.
“I have a strong team around me. I know being teammates with Rossi won’t be easy, but I really don’t get too caught up in that,” continued Hayden. “I focus on my job, and that’s why I think it’ll work with us. I’m looking forward to having Valentino’s information and feedback. He’s been around a long time and has a lot of experience. I think it’ll be fun. I know our team; the motivation is really high, and the excitement with the fans in Italy is high as well. I can’t imagine what the atmosphere will be like when get to Mugello.”
Photos of Valentino Rossi in Ducati Corse Leathers:
Photos of Nicky Hayden in Ducati Corse Leathers:
Source: Ducati Corse