MotoGP: Rossi Set for First Ducati Test

Valencia Post-Season MotoGP Tests

For the final time this past Sunday, Valentino Rossi and the Factory Yamaha M1 were a pair, the Italian signing off with a podium finish at Valencia, the concluding round of the 2010 MotoGP Championship.

And now that Rossi has said farewell to Yamaha, the nine-time World Champion has much work in store while preparing the Ducati Team GP11 for the 2011 MotoGP season.

Rossi’s first taste of the Ducati Desmosedici will be this Tuesday and Wednesday for the traditional post-Valencia MotoGP tests when riders plunge into work for their respective 2011 teams.

Initially, it was unknown if Yamaha would allow Rossi to test on the Ducati since his contract isn’t officially up until the end of the 2010 year, but Yamaha allowed the tests to proceed, confirming this (quite late) during the week of the Australian Grand Prix in October.

Although Yamaha gave the go-ahead, Rossi was under order to not discuss the post-Valencia tests with Ducati. But Rossi’s antics speak more than words, and his farewell kiss to the Yamaha M1 display that Rossi is more than set to say goodbye and begin a new moto-affair with Ducati.

This relationship will start this week; he and his teammate Nicky Hayden will get some track time at Valencia using three different Ducati engine configurations: the big-bang GP10 (used in the 2010 season by Hayden and former teammate Casey Stoner), the big-bang GP11 and the screamer GP11.

Both Rossi and Hayden will have to decide which engine to use in the GP11 for the 2011 MotoGP season, either the big bang or the screamer.

When this decision arrived last year for Hayden and Stoner, Hayden initially wanted to go with the Screamer, but the team and riders decided on the more-tame big-bang motor due to the Ducati’s chassis not being able to handle the raw power of the screamer; there was just no grip with the screamer engine.

These traction issues became apparent when Ducati originally moved to the stiff, carbon chassis on the GP09 two seasons ago. Before the GP09, the Ducatis featured the signature trellis chassis, which provided more flex, therefore more feedback to the rider.

Throughout 09 and this year’s MotoGP seasons, the Ducati team had grip issues, although they have progressively improved, but only slightly. It appeared Stoner and Hayden weren’t getting much feedback from the stiff chassis, especially when the tires began to wear.

And this same, stiff chassis will be carried over to the GP11 Ducati, the bike that Rossi will compete on.

Rossi, though, has much success in forwarding the progress of not-so-capable machines, such as his genius work with Yamaha that progressed from the time he joined in 2004 up until Sunday’s race at Valencia. And four MotoGP titles within seven years attest to that.

But will Rossi have as much luck with Ducati, helping his native manufacturer beat the amazingly well-suited Yamaha M1 of the 2010 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo, or the very capable three Repsol Honda machines piloted by Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso?

The insights will start arriving this Tuesday, as Rossi gets his first experience on the Ducati at Valencia.

Stay tuned to for full MotoGP updates.