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?