VR 46 Contract
It makes perfect sense that Valentino Rossi has signed for Ducati for 2011. Consider his position and history. In 2004 he boarded a lemon of a motorcycle (the Yamaha M1) and with the considerable skills of Jerry Burgess has since developed it into the most stable, best turning motorcycle in MotoGP.
The Rossi / Burgess partnership was also at the forefront of the development of Yamaha’s Crossplane crankshaft and Valentino chose that engine over the others because it was ‘the sweetest’.
In other words, Rossi has spent the last six years creating a MotoGP racing motorcycle that although not the fastest or most powerful, is the easiest to ride. And that’s allowed Rossi’s incredible timing and race craft to earn him the last two Championship titles.
But is the M1 really that well developed? Consider the remarkable success of Ben Spies in this his first full year. Without taking anything away from him, he’s the only rookie riding an M1… most of the others are riding Hondas-and we’ve seen the horrific gyrations that the RC212V is capable of with Pedrosa on board, and likewise we’ve heard his criticism of the harsh power delivery of the Honda’s V4 engine too.
So for Rossi to have a team mate like Lorenzo-clearly a brilliant rider in his own right-taking advantage of all Rossi’s development work (and that’s not to say Lorenzo couldn’t have done it himself, but he didn’t) Rossi finds himself with no possible mechanical advantage over his teammate and with only his experience and cunning up his sleeve to beat him.
And it’s tough to win Championships that way in a field that’s as competitive as MotoGP has now become.
So the answer has to be to ride a different machine-and develop it to where it will give him an edge over Lorenzo. Stoner’s dominant Championship win in 2007 proved Ducati are capable of producing Championship-winning machinery, and so it’s just a matter of turning a (reputedly) difficult handling machine into a winner-presumably by using the same formula as before and making the bike easier to ride.
And Rossi has Jerry Burgess to make that happen. They may not reach the top step in 2011 (although only a fool would count them out), but in 2012 when MotoGP returns to a 1000cc formula, the Ducati/Rossi partnership will have used their learning year well and turned the Ducati into the perfect motorcycle for him.
Would YOU bet against it?