Just one more week, and the biggest open piece of MotoGP’s puzzle should be slotted into place. On Saturday night, Valentino Rossi met with Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio, to discuss the details of the offer Ducati have for Rossi, and on Sunday morning, Del Torchio told French journalist Michel Turco that he expected to know Rossi’s answer within the next seven days. The money from Ducati is generous, some 17 million euros a season (this figure has since been denied by Rossi — Ed.), if the rumors are to be believed, but the money will not be the important part of the deal.

The biggest item will be what help Ducati will get from Audi, and whether the rate of progress at Borgo Panigale can be ramped up to start rolling out updates faster, and start to change some of the things which Rossi and Burgess believe are vital before the bike can even begin to become competitive. Ducati is not Rossi’s only option, of course.

The second seat at the Factory Yamaha team awaits, though that ride is not so richly rewarded, financially at least. The offer from Yamaha is rumored to be around the 3-4 million euro mark, a pay cut Rossi may be willing to take if it leaves him capable of winning and challenging for championships again. But here, too, conditions will be key: Rossi will return as the #2 rider, Lorenzo already having clinched a two-year deal with the factory, and Yamaha having made it clear to Rossi that they saw Lorenzo as the future back in 2010, which caused Rossi to pick-up sticks and go to Ducati.

Even worse, though, Rossi may have to return alone; his crew will not automatically be rehired by Yamaha, the cost of flying them around the world being a major cost factor in the equation. What’s more, Rossi will have to bring sponsorship to the table, much more than just the amount needed to cover his salary.

Rossi has to weigh the prospect of winning immediately against the hope of turning around the situation at Ducati and cementing his status as a bike developer in history. Walking away from Ducati would be the first time he ever backed down from a challenge, but his experience of Ducati has been mostly of waiting in vain for updates that haven’t come, and receiving updates that have not answered his most basic demands.

Financial backing from Audi should allow Ducati Corse to expand its engineering department to ramp up production, but the question remains of whether the problem is purely financial or more an ingrained part of the culture inside Ducati Corse. Rossi’s choice is clear: is it better to serve in heaven or to reign in hell?

Once Rossi’s decision is made, the next pieces can start to drop into place. If Rossi stays at Ducati, the question will be whether Cal Crutchlow or Andrea Dovizioso gets the second seat at Yamaha – or whether Yamaha chooses to draft in a young rider from Moto2, to learn alongside Jorge Lorenzo.

If Rossi goes to Yamaha, Crutchlow and Dovizioso will vie for the second seat at Ducati, alongside Nicky Hayden. With Ducati set to run a junior team in MotoGP in 2013 – though which team will run it, is yet to be determined – the chances of a young rider taking a seat in the factory team look fairly slim. Instead, the junior team will consist of prospects such as Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Iannone or Scott Redding, all of whom are set to test a Ducati at Mugello next week.

The uncertainty over the future of Valentino Rossi – and many others in MotoGP – is nearly at an end. Another week or so, and the waiting is over.

~~~ Updated ~~~

When asked by reporters if it was true that he had been offered 17 million euros to stay with Ducati last year, Rossi denied it. “This is important to say, this is completely not true. My offer for next year is less money than the offer for the past two years. I think this is right, because the economic situation of the world is difficult, and I arrive from a bad season with worse results. So it’s normal that I take less money than this year.”

He also weighed up the different options, saying that he has to consider the chance of winning again quickly with the greater and more interesting challenge of winning with the Ducati is greater, but it would take more time. Winning with three different brands was something special, he told reporters. He had to decide between these two options, he said, rejecting the third option, a factory bike in a satellite team with Honda.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • “If Rossi goes to Yamaha, Crutchlow and Dovizioso will vie for the second seat at Ducati.”

    I know Crutchlow & Dovi have been giving Ben a run all year, but how after this past weekend, it’s hard to not wonder how bad Ben’s bike has been all year. That also affects a racer’s confidence. — bad combo.

    So, what about Spies and Hayden at Ducati?

  • Ben is going back to WSBK along with his crew chief cause MotoGp takes all the fun out of racing with it’s politics and b.s. Last Tuesday i had a very good converstion with a friend of mine who happens to be in “ROSSI” inner circle and he made it clear to me that Vale is going back to Yam… Ducati has been to slow to make changes and can’t wait any longer so he gave up.. Sad but true…..

  • Daniel

    @dc4go: slow to make changes? They basically built so many different Desmosedici that they can start to sell D16 in showrooms. Look, i think that when you change basically everything (carbon frame, alluminium frame, different swingarms etc.) and your bike simply continues to take 1 second at lap, maybe the problem is the rider…

  • NizZauck

    I find it very hard to believe he would go back to yamaha with his tail between his legs… theres still some bad blood there for one.. and you’re telling me the Italian messiah, the chosen son, will abandon all of those in his home country dying for some light.. that he well let it go down in history that hes a quitter and Casey Stoner is just that much better than him… or stay and bring Ducati out of the dark ages and be the savior everyone in Italy is looking for. I guarantee you Audi (VW) has no shortage of money lying around, and they are pretty big on winning.. look at their motorsport record. better days are most definitely ahead. and if he just cops out and leaves, Bradl will be their guy.. not dovi or crutchlow

  • Michael

    Spies is going back to WSB because he can dominate it, it sucks running 5th or worse and he knows the front 3 are better than he will ever be, he crashes because he’s pushing to the max he’s got. It’s lot more fun being champion than an also ran like Hayden. Hayden never deserved that championship.

  • No, he deserved the Championship before it.

  • Andrey

    Good article Jensen and I think the net result of everything will be that he will stay at Ducati. If he moves to Yamaha his position will not be the No 1 rider and, the bike may also have changed while he has been away… leaving him in no better position than he is now. If Audi are motivated and keen to help then he will probably have more energy expended on him at Ducati, than with Yamaha. Money is not the issue and I even think winning is not the main issue… it will come down to where he feels he will have the most support and be in the best position.

  • DareN

    I f there is one guy who “deserves” (what does that mean,anyway?) championship it is certainly Nicky.Hard working,always positive, never badmouths his fellow riders,totally dedicated. IMO he should be given more credit, because his not blessed with ungodly, alien – like amount of talent like Rossi or Stoner…

  • New Zealand Dan

    A previous post mentions Vale would look a quitter if he went back to Yamaha, in my eyes this isn’t so. He’s a racer and in the business of winning championships. Ducati despite all their efforts have not been able to provide the tool to do this.

    Casey was aware that the mindset of the Factory Ducati was stuck on not changing the bike and there was only so much he could do with it. So he left it after one WC and three failed attempts to race at Honda again albeit with factory backing this time.

    Circumstances are different, but there are similarities.

  • JohnMc

    @ Daniel,

    To my knowledge Ducati has gone through the following iterations in Rossi’s stead:

    -switched from a carbon fiber to alloy frame (engine as stressed member)
    -switched from a carbon fiber to alloy swing arm
    -introduced alloy beam frame
    -new motor
    -new electronics to dampen power delivery

    I really don’t think that is above beyond anything that Honda or Yamaha has in the same time frame. How many iterations of RC213V have there been tried to cure Casey’s chatter this season alone? How many versions of 1000cc motors were tried in preseason testing?

    I think with some research one would find that the rate at which upgrades are released is comparable among manufactures. However, when you are languishing mid pack, new parts can never come fast enough.

    Perhaps a comparison across Yamaha, Honda and Ducati can be made. It would make for an interesting read.

    Maybe Jensen Beeler or David Emmett could tackle this subject during the summer break…maybe?

  • JohnMc

    I would love to see Vale and Jerry sort out the Ducati. But… seeing Rossi and Lorenzo scrap it out on equal equipment would be pretty damn entertaining.

    Cal Joins Nicky at Ducati, and every race weekend we are rewarded with color commentary regarding the Ducati that would make Colin blush.

  • I’m not so certain that watching Rossi and Lorenzo on the same equipment would be as entertaining as people think it would be…at least, not for Rossi fans.

  • @Michael – the front 3 are better than he’ll (Spies) ever be? Ben has set poles and finished higher than everyone of them at least once. I’m not saying he’ll surpass Lorenzo or Stoner’s careers, but his talent should not be down played to that degree. Spies’ career at the GP-level is too young to go anywhere yet, especially considering this year.

    Anyone know of any good articles on why the Ducati does well in the rain but not in dry conditions? You would think front-end and power delivery problems would be compounded in the wet.

  • fanclub

    @Jensen If only every race was like that nice Catalunya Sunday afternoon back in 2009…. oh the memories!

  • Cpt.Slow

    Rossi going back to Yamaha or staying with Ducati and not succeed…

    “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

    -Michael Jordan

    My $.02

  • @ Michael… Even Rossi told the press he honestly felt Nicky deserved that championship. Pretty trolling statement there….

  • l’m pretty sure Rossi and Burgess expected to be successful with in a years time but I honestly think they have gone backwards.. Rossi and the Ducati just don’t gel and after two years I don’t see it happening. @ Daniel … the GP12 has had several changes but not what Rossi and Burgess want. Ducati refuses to narrow the V angle, build an I4, drop the high power output, and limited the amount of electronics they currently use. The Ducati is a wild beast and Rossi just can’t get to terms with it so he will leave to Yamaha… My source said it’s 98 percent done, only way I see Rossi staying is if he can’t secure enough $$ to take his crew to Yamaha…

  • Daniel

    @dc4go: inline 4? Delta box frame.. So, Rossi doesn’t want to win on a Ducati, he want a jap!
    Ducati team should go in the Yamaha box in night-time and stole a M1, they paint it red. So the Chosen one will return to podium..

  • Minibull

    Well, people seem to say that it will look like Rossi will have failed to turn a bike around, and that reputation would then be tarnished. He can provide all the feedback needed, but if the factory won’t “use” that information, then the problems will never be fixed.

    We also saw the statements that Ducati seem to do the majority of the development work at the start of each season. See how long it took to get his riding position sorted out…I mean…that’s just insane in my opinion…

    Why spend the final years of your career dieing a slow death at the back of the pack. Why not take the best chance you have, on a bike that would still be very similar to what you used to know.

    Opinions are great, right? XD

  • Neil


    Nicky didn’t win many races the year he won his championship, but he was consistently on the podium throughout. Had to do deal with his “teammate” Pedrosa taking him out also…and forced Rossi to make a mistake trying to catch him in the last race of the year to win the Championship, so…I would say… Nicky deserved HIS title….I even remember Yamaha running a magazine ad congratulating Nicky for winning the title on his Honda…

    Anyway…I would like to see Rossi stick it out with Ducati, not just because he is Italian but because he signed a contract and he has a huge fan base there, I don’t think he will be well liked turning his back on Ducati to possibly win again with someone else…..just goes to show you what kind of guy Hayden is for wanting to be with Ducati….

    @dc4go…Can we hold you to that info????? lol…

    I would still love to see Bayliss come out of retirement and team up with Hayden, just to see what if….?
    If Rossi does leave I think Crutchlow would be a good teammate to Hayden….

    Peace out…

  • Daniel said it best Rossi wants to win but at the same time the GP12 will never be a Japanese bike so i think it’s time to go.. I’d like to see him stay and win but u can hold me on this Rossi is gone especially after Laguna this weekend. Only way he will stay is if his sponsors bail on him……….

  • DareN

    Does anyone consider that, maybe, just maybe, Rossi is simply on decline of his carieer (Michael Phelps, anyone?) and is not capable to elevate himself to the level of Stoners and Lorenzos. After all, he has been consistantly crappy on the Duke last 2 years…Just a thought..

  • Westward

    @Racetrack Style

    Im with you, give the Ducati some Elbowz…

    @ NizZauck

    I would agree, Bradl doesn’t look to be getting a factory Honda any time soon, besides, he is not spanish enough and nationalism has it’s privileges in MotoGP. I could see him at Ducati too…

    @ Andrey

    Spot on comment in my opinion. If Rossi can’t guarantee his crew as part of the deal, I don’t see him abandoning them. If he does, then that would be bad karma…

    @ DareN

    Isn’t that what 2006 was all about. Rossi won three times the races on a less stable machine than Hayden that year, and Capirossi never really recovered from the Catalunya incident. By default, the most consistent pilot on the most reliable machine won at the end of the year.

    @ JohnMc

    The difference between Honda and Ducati is, Honda can churn out multiple updates for multiple projects in less than a week, whereas Ducati takes a few months to do any one specific part. Also, Honda makes their chassis, and Ducati currently relies on FTR, and they don’t work any faster…

    @ Cpt.Slow

    Nice Jordan quote, but I think it is safe to say the last two seasons qualifies as trying. However, the Audi influence is the X-Factor…

    @ Halfie30

    That’s what Rossi in PR mode would say… Anyone who is honestly familiar (and dare I say objective) with 2006, knows the truth, and I think Hayden is one of them…

    @ Neil

    Did Hayden deserve his title and earn it? Yes… But it is also a bitter sweet one as well.

    Schwantz, Lorenzo, and Bradl are all in the same boat. Schwantz benefitted from the Rainy tragedy. Lorenzo from the Rossi shoulder than leg injuries, as did Bradl from a two race absence of Marquez due to injury too…

    They all know how they won and why, cause in each of those seasons there was someone they knew was better, and they were the beneficiaries of circumstance…

    But it does not diminish their talents either, it only puts them in perspective…

    @ DareN

    Phelps is Phelps, Rossi is Rossi, so NO, Rossi’s issue is the bike, that is clear. Phelps cannot lay blame on his speedo’s…

  • Actually, Phelps can blame his Speedo’s…they banned the polyurethane suits this Games.


  • Westward

    Audi should meet with Honda and Yamaha, and as a group approach Dorna and say, you can limit the cc’s and the bore size, but testing and development is unlimited, let the best technology and pilot win… Or you can go race scooters…

    I am hoping the Audi factor, Rossi’s crew guaranteed, and the shear affection shown for his ability and talent keeps him at Ducati.

    Smoothness and agility seems to work better than horsepower and raw speed. The bike with the highest top speed almost is never the winning bike at any given circuit. I set blame on Preziosi’s shoulder’s rather then Rossi and Burgess’s, they have repeated success in MotoGP…

  • Neil

    @ Westward

    How long does it take the “Audi Factor” to make a difference??? Months? Seasons?
    If Rossi leaves (as suggested by dc4go) what happens? Does Audi still put the work in?

    I would like to see Rossi stay and try….but if he leaves who knows???
    No guarantee to do any better at Yamaha….

  • Greg

    Audi should fire Preziosi’s lazy stalling donkey’s tail and bring in one of their Le Mans bosses to whip Ducati Corse into the shape Rossi & Burgess need to win!!!

  • Westward

    @ Niel

    Of Course they do… Only they would not have the input of Rossi or Burgess. Both men have proven their qualities, and their experience is second to none. What better Pilot and Crew Chief tandem in the world are better to develop your technology…?

    That is what is so frustrating about Preziosi. All he has to do is engineer the bike to achieve the needs of the suggestions of those two men. I have a feeling, their are things he is not doing , cause he feels he knows better.

    Maybe now with the help of Audi, they can run two projects, the one Preziosi wants, and the one Rossi and Crew desires…

  • I’ve commented in other posts about the motor configuration not needing changed because the raging success Checa had on the L-twin last year. Maybe 4 cylinders in this configuration is a nightmare, especially at this performance level?

    Ducati abandoned significant traditions in the chassis, so why not examine the engine, especially in a prototype class?

    If the engine is up for reconfiguration, the question remains….is Ducati going to have a cohesive focus from factory-to-track the way Yamaha demonstrated?

    The effort on the teams is evident.

  • Keet

    if Rossi leaves Ducati, does that make Hayden the lead rider and finally gets a bike built for him?

  • Crobar

    I don’t understand the whole Bradl in MotoGP thing. He has shown well, but it should have been Marquez first. He outperformed Bradl, is much more aggressive on the track, he rides much less conservatively than Bradl, and has the spirit of a MotoGP pilot. Now we hear that Iannone or Redding might ride next year. What about Pol Espargaro? Iannone would be a good choice, but Redding? He rarely finishes what he starts. Nothing against him, but he would be my 3rd choice, not my 2nd.

  • A.C

    @ Racetrack Style

    It’s not the engine, it’s not the chassis… it’s not the swing-arm, it’s not Rossi, and it’s not the tires.

    It’s the combined effect of the engine being too long and too far back to put enough weight forwards to work the front tire properly, the fact that the length of the engine does not provide adequate space for a lengthy swing-arm (which is one of the M1’s key design parameters) which takes most of the blame for corner exit traction… and lastly, yes, Ducati Corse are not experts in twin spar frame design.

    It all adds up to a bike that is not really competitive. Preziosi knows this, he knows that the problem is the 90° V angle. But Ducati has two options:

    1. They go for it, throw their heritage out the window and pursue success. There are two critical outcomes to this.
    -a. They are mildly successful and the public comes to terms with the new cylinder bank angle.
    -b. They are completely unsuccessful and not only did they sell their soul to the devil for a victory, but they also did it for nothing. Ducatistas wouldn’t take that well at all.

    2. They keep doing what they are doing, but with better funding. This has three critical outcomes:
    -a. They strike a magical combination and Ducati emerges from the ashes and reclaims it’s lost honor.
    -b. They fail and have to withdraw from the pinnacle of two-wheeled racing. Which would have horrible repercussions in a number of different fields.
    -c. They fail, but linger in the sport for some years before eventually having to take one of the routes previously cited. What Audi would have to say about this is a different debate altogether.

    This is all speculation, everyone here is speculating. But the key to it is to approach it from as many different point of view as possible.