Announced during the Phillip Island press conference, Yamaha Racing has decided to release Valentino Rossi from his contractual obligations at the end of the MotoGP season, thus allowing the Italian rider to test with Ducati Corse during the testing sessions at Valencia, which follow immediately after the Valencian GP. While many in the MotoGP paddock expected Yamaha to come to this decision, it’s taken quite some time, and a lot of lobbying and consternation from Rossi to get the Japanese factory to see things his way.
“I spoke this morning Furusawa, and he gave me the go ahead to test the Ducati in Valencia,” said Rossi. “It Seems like a nice gesture, you see that Yamaha has given value to what I’ve done in recent years.”
Likely wanting to hold onto the Rossi’s star power for as long as possible, and afraid the growing rift between Rossi and Lorenzo could turn into backlash against Yamaha, the Japanese manufacturer has delayed its response to Rossi’s request for as along as seemingly possible. Supposedly honoring it’s gentleman’s agreement with Ducati, Yamaha Racing will have it’s own star-studded cast on-hand for the Valencia test: the newly crowned Rookie of the Year Ben Spies, and FIM MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
With Yamaha Racing boss Masao Furusawa telling Valentino Rossi on Saturday night that he could test with his new team at Ducati during the test at Valencia, there is surely a riotously happy crowd in Italy right now. With very little development expected to occur for the 2011 season, Dorna and MotoGP will be their hanging high hopes on the Rossi/Ducati marriage to keep fans entertained and involved with motorcycle racing’s premiere series.
Ducati is expected to bring out both a big bang and screamer version of the Desmosedici GP11 for Rossi to test, although it’s not clear what version of the bike they will run next season. For 2012, Ducati has been very allusive, and has even suggested that they might not run the full 1000cc’s on their GP bike. We’ll have to wait and see what they bring to the table, and what they bring to Valencia. In the interim, expect to see Rossi racing at both Estoril and Valencia, and finish out the season with Yamaha.