In the background of MotoGP, a quiet battle has been raging since the Australian GP at Phillip Island. A venue always threatened with inclement weather, the Australian track always manages to muster sunshine on race Sundays, despite the fact that they have all the makings weather-wise for a good regatta, not a motorcycle race. Despite this reality, the issue of running the Australian GP earlier in the race season comes up every time MotoGP gets a whiff of rain, wind, or kangaroos that could threaten the coastal track, as the late scheduling of the GP has historically been during the country’s rainy season.
Pressure to move the Australian GP to earlier in the season seemingly found its stride this past season, as Valentino Rossi and a number of other riders openly expressed their frustration with the circuit’s weather, and the pending safety concerns it meant for the riders. Talking during last season’s race, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta seemed all but certain that the venue would find an earlier slot in the calendar for 2011, despite the scheduling conflicts with WSBK and Formula 1 in the earlier months of this new year, and the nagging problem that Phillip Island doesn’t want to move the venue date.
Fielding questions at the Ducati/Ferrari Wrooom event, Ezpeleta again was asked about the issue with Phillip Island, and his response to the track’s position that its contract with Dorna prevents a change in the calendar positioning (PI is contracted until 2016). Talking to the assembled press, Ezpeleta fired a clear warning shot across the bow of the Australian track when he said the track’s homologation could come into question if calendar changes aren’t accepted. “We are talking with them. It’s true, they have a contract, but their circuit is subject to homologation,” said Ezpeleta. “If it (the Phillip Island track) is not homologated, the contract will be void.”
If you are a Ducati owner, Valentino Rossi Fan, Italian, or have more than a passing interest in MotoGP, then today is the day you’ve had marked on your 2011 calendar (with perhaps the Valencia test being the date of 2010). Finally released from his contractual obligations with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi can officially begin his duties working for Ducati Corse this week, and Ducati has already capitalized on the moment by showing off Rossi’s new leathers to great fanfare. Now the pièce de résistance and the end to our torment, Ducati has finally debuted the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at the 2011 Wrooom media event, a joint launch event between Ferrari and Ducati held in the Dolomite Mountains.
Remember the good old days when the print saturated media that cover MotoGP would take months to show us the first photos of the new season’s race bikes? If a magazine wasn’t on its game, there used to be a good chance you’d get your first glimpse of a team’s new race livery at the season opener before you’d see it in your next issue of (insert publication name here).
Well the internet is changing all that, and now do we not only get near-live coverage of Ducati & Ferrari’s Wrooom event with press releases and media photos, but tools like Facebook and Twitter are adding a dimension to the experience that not only brings us information and media faster, but adds an element of depth to the single-perspective reports we’d normally receive.
Such is the case with Valentino Rossi’s Ducati Desmosedici GP11 race bike (first teased here), as MotoGP commentator Toby Moody snapped this camera phone photo of the bike as it was being carted around at Wrooom. Neon seems to be the name of the game, which is probably due to a combination of making the bike TV ready (there’s an interesting discussion on Wikipedia about how the standard Rosso Corsa red color scheme has changed over the years because of TV quality and saturation), and integrating Valentino Rossi’ unhealthy obsession with the color neon yellow into the Ducati Corse style. A shot of Nicky’s bike awaits you in the gallery after the jump.
Somewhere in a locked room, a select number of photographers are snapping photos of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11, the V4 MotoGP racing machine that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will ride in the upcoming GP season. Leaked ahead of its unveiling, this photo has made it onto the interwebs showing a glimpse of the GP11 with some frustrating cropping (aww…nuts!). We’ll have to wait a few more hours before we can unveil the new D16 race bike, so this photo will have to suffice until then, but is that a black and yellow tail we see? Interesting, very interesting.
Amidst all the fanfare over seeing Valentino Rossi wearing Rosso Corsa and sporting his new Dainese leathers, which surprisingly aren’t being sponsored by McDonald’s, one announcement has gotten little attention (and no, we’re not talking about Nicky Hayden). The 2011 Wrooom event signals the end of a three-year strategic plan that’s been going on internally at Ducati, which has seen the Italian company release 12 new models, increase sales across the board, and ship 36,200 motorcycles in 2010 alone.
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).
Ducati Corse’s joint launch with Ferrari kicked off today (not really, the official opener had to be postponed because of weather), and with it we get the first glimpses of Valentino Rossi in true Ducati colors, and not the yellow and black livery he had to wear during the Valencia test. Taking part in the Wrooom 2011 media event in the Dolomite Mountains, Rossi joins teammate Nicky Hayden in starting the new racing season with Ducati Corse.
Somewhere in between the skiing-filled days, and jacuzzi-soaked nights, a few things resembling a press conference will take place where Rossi will talk about his thoughts on the Desmosedici (scheduled for Tuesday), and Ducati will unveil the GP11 race bike (Q&A on the bike is scheduled for Wednesday), which may or may not feature a Big Bang motor (we think it will though).
For the week’s activities, Rossi and Hayden are joined by Ferrari’s Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who will be doing similar media maneuvers for Ferrari this week. The foursome is schedule to compete in a head-to-head skiing battle on Friday, but we don’t expect Rossi to actually take to skis this year with his recovering shoulder (good money is on Alonso as Massa has never seen snow before, and most things that pass for skiing in Kentucky involve a car, a rope, and a McDonald’s food tray).
Ducati Corse is slowly becoming the Lord of the Rings in MotoGP — bringing together some of the largest brands outside of the industry into the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Already announcing Mercedes Benz’s tuning house AMG as its official car sponsor to the Marlboro Ducati MotoGP team, Ducati announced ahead of today’s start to the Wrooom event that apparel company Diesel would be added to the team’s rostrum of sponsors.
The maker of tight skinny jeans and other fashionable items, Diesel will be adding its “Made in Italy” brand to Ducati’s Italian bikes, and will also supply the Ducati Corse team with apparel for the 2011 season, which we can also only imagine will be made available to the public as well with a modest mark up on the not so modest base prices. Still say what you will about Italians and their fashion, one thing remains impressively true: Ducati is crushing it right now when it comes to finding dollars to go race in MotoGP.