Apparently, the weather is being less than co-operative in Spain, with sprinkles of rain being reported, but that didn’t stop The Doctor from getting on-board “his” bike.
After the jump, there are 17 photos of Rossi’s maiden voyage back on the Yamaha YZR-M1 — all courtesy of photographer extraordinaire, Scott Jones.
The sense of expectation in the air at Valencia is wound so tight it hums. Tomorrow morning, some time after 10am, some of that expectation will start to dissipate as we get the first glimpses of answers that have preoccupied MotoGP fans for the past few months.
Two things we hope to see: a glimpse of the past and a glimpse of the future. After two long, hard years, the army of Valentino Rossi fans will be hoping to see something they haven’t since 2010, or maybe even 2009: a flowing, comfortable, aggressive Valentino Rossi at one with the machine underneath.
That was something he never showed while riding the Ducati, the figure in the Rossi replica helmet sitting on the Ducati always looking more like a club racer had sneaked into the back of the Ducati garage to take the bike out for a spin, terrifying himself in the process. Rossi looked stiff, awkward, uncomfortable, his back arched like a cat negotiating a dog-infested yard.
Tomorrow is like Christmas for motorcycle lovers, as Tuesday is the first official day of the EICMA show in Milan, and it is also the first day of the post-season MotoGP testing at Valencia. With more than a few riders swapping seats for next year, one of the most anticipated transitions is Andrea Dovizioso to the Ducati Corse factory team.
The third wheel at the Repsol Honda team in 2011, Dovi made the jump to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage for 2012, with the hopes of auditioning for a seat on the factory Yamaha YZR-M1 next season. A certainly Valentino Rossi ruined that plan, so Dovi did the next best thing…he took Rossi’s seat at Ducati.
With the Ducati Desmosedici labelled as a career-ending machine, the GP11/GP12 nearly did The Doctor in, making the move by Dovizioso a brave one. Apparently trusting the words of Ducati’s new owner Audi, we will get our first glimpse of Dovi on the Ducati tomorrow, but for now we get our first photos of the pair’s preliminary introduction.
AMA Pro Racing Champion Josh Hayes will get a chance to swing a leg over some MotoGP machinery later this year, as the American rider will get to ride with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad at the post-season test in Valencia. Taking place immediately after the final 2011 MotoGP round in Valencia, Hayes will ride Colin Edwards’ 800cc Yamaha YZR-M1, as the Texan Tornado will presumably be released from his Tech 3 duties so that he can begin testing his CRT bike at the first 2012 season test. The ride is joint-promotion by both Monster and Yamaha USA, and it also sees Josh Hayes’ better half, Melissa Paris, riding Bradley Smith’s Tech 3 Tech 3 Mistral 610 Moto2 race bike at the Spanish test.
UPDATE: Well looks like the party is over, as Dorna has sent us a cease and desist.
What was it like watching Valentino Rossi swing his leg over the Ducati Desmosedici for the very first time behind closed garage doors? Well thanks to someone in the Ducati pit box who had either a small camcorder or smartphone with video enabled, we can finally see what that experience was like, and what sort of atmosphere surrounded the moment.
Taking a total of six videos of the historic occasion, we can experience the first reactions of Rossi and crew as he gets ready to complete Italy’s motorcycling wet dream. Videos after the jump, and be sure to check out the first official images of Rossi riding the GP11 at Valencia, and the behind the scenes photos from Rossi’s favorite photographer Gigi Soldano.
Valentino Rossi’s personal photographer Gigi Soldano was on hand for Rossi’s debut on the Ducati Desmosedici this week during the MotoGP test at Valencia. Granted unfettered access to what goes on behind-the-scenes in the Ducati garage, Soldano combined his magic behind the lens with the events that unfolded in front of him, and lucky for us, he shared them with the world on his blog today.
Australian Casey Stoner topped the time sheets today at Valencia, in MotoGP’s second and last test at the Spanish track for week. Although clearly adapting to the Honda RC212V quickly, Stoner was still unable to touch Jorge Lorenzo’s top testing time from yesterday, with the World Champion being five hundredths of a second faster than the Aussie. While Stoner and Lorenzo were busy dazzling the at the front of the time sheet, the majority everyone’s attention was trained on Valentino Rossi, who tested over a second and half behind Stoner, putting him nearly at the bottom of the scrap heap for the day.
While many Rossi fans were expecting the Italian to light up the Spanish track on his new Ducati, Rossi battled a front-end issue (different from the one Stoner experienced) that prevented him pushing the GP11 hard in the testing sessions. Testing only the Big Bang motor, and not the Screamer, it looks like Ducati will stick in that direction for the 2011 season, as Nicky Hayden tested both motors and preferred the Big Bang configuration. Valentino Rossi and Crew Chief Jeremy Burgess will likely be talking to Ducati the rest of the week about where the team should focus its resources in developing the GP11 further. Testing results after the jump.
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.