A feature written by viewer Andy Marking. Do you agree? Leave your comments below...
Nine World Championships, 105 Grand Prix wins, a thirst for victory than shames even the keenest rookie, and a reputation as one of the greatest riders in history. So why can't Valentino Rossi win on the Ducati Desmosedici, and what's next if things don't improve?
It would appear that the Ducati has a fundamental design flaw, and that is not the carbon fibre chassis, but poor balance and incorrect weight distribution. It simply doesn't load the front tyre through the corners in the way Rossi wants. Ducati's constant upgrades throughout last season, allied to Rossi's development skills have failed to produce any tangible gains.
Ducati rolled out a revised bike with an aluminium twin spar chassis at the post season test at Valencia. Any hopes that this would provide a quick fix quickly faded as Rossi's best time at the end of the test was still over 1.5 seconds from the factory Hondas. The new bike is clearly in need of developments, and is very much a work in progress, but the bottom line is that the gap to the front is exactly the same as it was at the same test 12 months ago.
Rossi told the Ducati Corse website that new bike is an improvement on the GP11, but the same problems remain.
“This bike is nicer to ride than the 800. You can say that it's improved in some respects, while in others, it's very similar to the other bike, but that's exactly what we expected. The engine seems to be pretty good already. On the other hand, I'm a little slower in mid-corner, and we also have to try to improve rear grip because for now, we're not able to get the power to the ground and take full advantage of it. But it's not bad for a first taste, and the really important thing is that we can work more freely, changing the bike's balance, the weight distribution, the measurements.”
February's test at Sepang will be crucial. If the GP12 is on the pace then there will be cause for optimism. If Rossi continues to struggle, then he will almost certainly be considering his options.
Valentino Rossi is far from finished. He has not become a bad rider, nor forgotten how to ride a motorcycle. However, with his legacy at risk, if the GP12 doesn't allow him to regularly challenge for wins, it's inconceivable that he will sign for a third term with the Bologna outfit.
Rossi has already ruled out retirement. He told GPOne.com “If things don't get better, I still wouldn't consider retirement. I want to keep racing for a few more years at least.”
Should the required progress not be forthcoming at Ducati, a return to Yamaha looks unlikely. A rumour that surfaced at Laguna Seca suggests he could switch to a one man team running a factory Honda.
This would represent a huge climb down for Rossi, going back to the factory he left in 2003. But it would also put him on the same bike as Casey Stoner for the first time in their careers.
MotoGP needs this. As Stoner's star continues to rise and Rossi's falters, a head to head battle between the two would leave no excuses and nowhere to hide for either man. Undoubtedly, both would relish the prospect.
If Rossi claims a tenth championship, his legacy would be sealed. If he fails then his reputation will be tainted. One thing is certain. With his insatiable desire to compete, Rossi won't go without a fight.