Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore attracted over 38,000 fans this past Friday in the biggest pre-season Ducati party ever organized by the Italian motorcycle manufacturer.
The "Ducati MotoGP Night" event came at the end of an action-packed day that included an emotional visit to the Ducati factory in Borgo Panigale, Bologna during which Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden toured the production lines and met the workers.
The day was an incredibly spectacular send-off for the Ducati MotoGP Team and its factory riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team MotoGP) says: "It’s great to be here. I’d like to say thank you to everyone. We all look to do well in our work and the bikes you make are really beautiful. Carry on doing a great job here and we’ll try to do a great job for you on the track!"
Rossi’s Ducati teammate Hayden was equally impressed.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati MotoGP) says: "It’s really very special to be here. I’ve worked for other manufacturers, but Ducati is really unique. The bikes are special; the people that work here are special and now let’s hope that we can give them the special results that they deserve."
Later in the day the riders also attended a packed press conference where Hayden continued to talk about being part of the Ducati MotoGP Team.
Nicky Hayden says: "I’m very happy to be here today, happy to ride the Desmosedici and happy to be a part of this team. I know very well how hard the season will be – MotoGP is never easy – but that’s why we love it.
"The last tests in Malaysia were difficult, but our team spirit is always positive. Today we were at Ducati, we saw the factory and the enthusiasm of all the people there and now I’m just waiting to get back on the track and give all the Italian fans the results they deserve."
The 2011 MotoGP season’s new arrival Valentino Rossi echoed Hayden’s sentiments.
Valentino Rossi says: "Our visit to Ducati today was really emotional. For many years I’ve raced for other motorcycle manufacturers and visited their factories, but for sure the atmosphere was never like this. Today was like returning home and I’m very happy to be working with an Italian team this year.
"The people we met today have a great passion in what they do and pride in who they are and now we have to be fast on the track, have some great races and give everyone motivation."
Gabriele Del Torchio (President and CEO of Ducati) says: "It has been a fantastic day and an incredible evening. What we have seen in the main Piazza here this evening speaks for itself. The city has responded incredibly and Ducati fans from all over Italy have travelled here to wish Valentino and Nicky all the best before they leave for the start of the 2011 MotoGP season."
During the press conference, Mr. Del Torchio also took the opportunity to announce that an agreement had been signed to start work on a brand new factory in Borgo Panigale, Bologna.
Gabriele Del Torchio says: "The new Ducati factory will be 134,600 square meters, a 15% increase over our current site, 5,000 square meters of covered structure with 13,500 square meters of offices and supporting utilities such as museum, auditorium and canteen and 41,500 square meters of production, R&D, Ducati Corse and storage.
"An additional 11,000 meters of potential future expansion has also been accounted for. We have the possibility to be truly international, but to do so Bologna must be the central base of our operation. Borgo Panigale is the head, the heart and the hands of our company.
"The intelligence, the passion and the professionalism of Ducati will always be in Bologna. This doesn’t mean that we will not explore other opportunities internationally, but Bologna will always remain the heart. This is a piece of news that I really have great pleasure in announcing tonight of all nights."
While the press conference was drawing to a close, 38,000 fans had gathered in front of a huge stage built in Piazza Maggiore, ready to see the MotoGP team presented.
Following the introductions of Gabriele Del Torchio, Claudio Domenicali, Filippo Preziosi and the rest of the team; the massive crowd heard two MotoGP bikes start and Rossi and Hayden rode their Ducati Desmosedici GP11s onto the stage. The incredible sound of the two Ducati MotoGP bikes in the centre of Bologna signaled the start of the 2011 season for the team, who will shortly leave for the first race in Qatar held this coming March 20.