Trackside Tuesday: Scisma

08/07/2012 @ 11:20 pm, by Daniel Lo11 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi had just come off a relative high from Mugello having finished fifth at the Italian GP and less than twelve seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo. Toss in the [admittedly somewhat cryptic] “let’s stick together” theme of his helmet and the seemingly positive talks with Audi, it appeared that the Italian legend just might be happy with where he was at Ducati Corse.

Fast-forward to the Thursday at Laguna Seca, where the pre-race press conference had just ended, the riders had all scattered about the room to answer additional questions. The small band of journalists crowded around Valentino were mostly speaking in Italian so I wasn’t able to understand much of what was being talked about but the number 46 was indeed mostly smiles, which I attempted to capture in my press room photos.

As chance would have it none of his smiling photos turned out, leaving me with this image that perhaps contained more tension than what was actually in the room that day. Ominously enough though, by Sunday afternoon what I had initially considered a throw-away shot had become an increasingly more accurate portrait of the rocky marriage that is Valentino Rossi and Ducati, after the nine-time World Champion once again struggled to tame the fickle red bike before crashing out of the race with just three laps to go.

Ending on such a sour note at Laguna Seca did not help Ducati’s bid at retaining the Italian superstar for 2013, especially with Rossi’s final decision expected to be made during the summer break. The old saying is “time will tell” but in this case the writing may already be on the wall.

Dan Lo is a motorsport photographer who covers AMA Superbike, World Superbike, and MotoGP. His online portfolio is at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

Photo: © 2012 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved

  • I am sure the writing is on the wall… just who can interpret it correctly is the answer. Where is Joseph? He can read our dreams…

  • Aj

    The writing was on the wall when Marco Melandri went from race winner on a Honda to last place on a Ducati. Although Stoner managed to win on those beastly iterations, even his ridiculously fantastic ability couldn’t truly tame the Ducati. A different tech team is in order and ASAP!

  • HDAfro

    Do ya’ll think Rossi secretly rode a Yamaha M1 recently and that made up his mind. Rossi, will be like, “Dam, this bike is good, I can take it to the maximum” This must have stirred up some good memories.
    Question is did he made this decision with or without testing the Yamaha bike. I’m assuming he has to, but Ducati contract might prevent this.

  • HDAfro

    BTW, HD is not for Harley D. I ride a Duc, and a Fan of MotoGP since I first saw a race, and it happened to be at Laguna in 2008, the battle between Stoner and Rossi.

  • Westward

    In the press interviews at Laguna before the race, it sounded like Rossi and Ducati were very close to signing a contract. It wasn’t until he crashed, that the atmosphere changed.

  • gsp75

    I think the biggest loser is going to be Honda, losing Stoner and putting all there cards on Marquez and Pedrosa to fight against Lorenzo & Rossi… its going to be a while till Honda see’s another title (imo)

  • Soul_reaver

    @ HDAfro : of course without testing the Yamaha. If he tested a M1, pictures would’ve already been leaked to the press, Ducati ( or Phillip Morris to be precise ) would’ve gone batsh*t crazy and they probably would’ve sued VR because of a contract breach.
    It’s like when he signed for Ducati, he didn’t know what to expect until he swung a leg over it. Only thing that he can do is take a trip down memory lane to know how the M1 rode when he was still at Yamaha

  • According to my source (close friend of Rossi) his mind was made up a week before Laguna… just waiting to finalize his contract…Only thing left to figure out will be Hayden teamate…

  • JW

    Rossi this Rossi that, I have way more respect for Stoner in that he was able to master the beast and do the best in the circumstances he was faced with.

    Rossi didnt do jack with it.

    Stoner can leave with head UP a little higher now and a smile

  • SBPilot

    I give full credit to Stoner, but the Ducati was a different bike back then. Ducati had a decent bike, hell, Bayliss (a non GP regular) and Capirossi won races with it. Times have changed big time, and the bike Stoner rode is totally different than that of Rossi’s. From frame to engine to..everything. The bike is dismal simple as that, the privateers can’t even touch the private Honda and Yamahas either and nor can the factory riders.

    Anyway, I just hope Rossi can remember how to ride that M1, and I wonder if the 1000cc is better for him. Now Rossi is sure to go to Yamaha, let’s stop “reporting” every little thing about it…..

    So yea..about that WSBK Race…..just about the most crazy race ever and not a single write up on it from A&R? pretty unbelievable. How many times do people crash across the finish line onto a podium finish?

  • Spektre76

    I was hoping for the GOAT to get back in bed with Honda so he can push Jorge’s face in the mud while he takes a victory spot from him and gives him the bird from the podium.