Ducati's decision to issue a press release strongly claiming that quotes regarding the signing of Valentino Rossi - attributed to its CEO Gabriele Del Torchio - were "misreported" was something of a surprise.

During an exclusive interview with Cycle World, Del Torchio is quoted as saying: "...Nicky is a wonderful person and a great rider. This year, he greatly contributed to improving our Desmosedici racer. Next year, he and Valentino will hone the bike to its ultimate winning potential."

Ducati responded by stating: "...The recent news which has appeared on the US website Cycle World and other websites has been misreported and must be attributed to the many rumours circulating lately..."

But the Del Torchio quotes still remain on the Cycle World website - although the Ducati press release saying the quotes are wrong now appears at the start of the story!

That implies that Cycle World has checked its own recordings or notes from the interview and feels no need to edit or retract its story. But, by running the Ducati release, they can at least appease Ducati by casting an element of doubt on the Rossi deal.

Given that 99% of the MotoGP paddock believes Rossi will be confirmed at Ducati after next weekend's Brno race, the story is hardly a surprise, but the Cycle World quotes were significant as they seemed to be the first on-the-record confirmation of Rossi's Ducati switch.

But why did Ducati feel they had to react in such detail, rather than the usual "no final decision yet" type response?

The reason could well be that Ducati doesn't want to upset Yamaha by reversing the established sequence of a high-profile rider-team divorce, which sees the existing team announce that the rider is leaving, complete with thanks and words of appreciation from both sides, followed shortly by confirmation from the new team of the rider's impending arrival.

This format was followed when Rossi left Honda for Yamaha at the end of 2003 (albeit with a lengthy period between the Honda exit and Yamaha arrival) and more recently with Nicky Hayden (Honda to Ducati) and Casey Stoner (Ducati to Honda).

Assuming a deal has effectively been done - and Ducati, of course, insists is hasn't - why should Ducati care about ruining Yamaha's Rossi farewell?

There are several reasons. The first is that Ducati will want Yamaha to let Rossi test a Desmosedici straight after the Valencia season finale. Most contracts run to the end of the calendar year and if Yamaha feel Ducati has robbed them of a face-saving farewell, they could - just as Honda did in 2003 - refuse to let Rossi ride until 2011.

With winter testing so heavily restricted, that would be a much bigger penalty than in the past.

But this will be hard for Yamaha to do because Ducati is understood to be allowing Stoner to ride the Honda at the Valencia test - if Yamaha were to prevent Rossi doing likewise they would look unsporting and risk turning Rossi's army of fans instantly against them.

Other possible reasons for such sensitively by Ducati are that Rossi cannot actually sign (under the terms of his existing contract) for a rival team until a certain date has passed, presumably Brno, while decisions over the future of Rossi's crew chief Jerry Burgess and mechanics might also not yet be finalised.

All will be cleared up next weekend at the Czech Republic, when not only will Rossi confirm his future plans, but Yamaha intends to announce its full 2011 factory line-up, which is expected to see Ben Spies taking Rossi's place alongside Jorge Lorenzo.


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