Ducati’s new regime wish they worked with Rossi: “Ahead of his years…”

Would Valentino Rossi’s nightmare spell at Ducati have panned out better if the team had their current management in place?
Valentino Rossi, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP 16 April
Valentino Rossi, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP 16 April

It is a potentially dream link-up - the legendary Italian rider at the peak of his powers joining the iconic Italian brand whose bike and brains were a step ahead of their rivals’.

Davide Tardozzi, Ducati team manager, has admitted his regret that they never crossed paths.

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Asked who he wishes he could have worked with, he told GPOne: “I don’t want to offend my guys because they have all given me satisfaction but, if I have to name one, then Valentino Rossi.

“He is one of those riders who gives you something extra. 

“He’s a guy who has always been ahead of his years and who has taught everyone who worked with him something. 

“He enriches you… in every sense!”

Rossi was already a seven-time premier class champion when he left Yamaha, the team still synonymous with his heyday, for Ducati in 2011.

What followed were two years much worse than anyone could have predicted. He wasn’t close to a championship challenge in either year and, in 2013, cut short the partnership to return to Yamaha.

Valentino Rossi , Doha MotoGP, 3 April
Valentino Rossi , Doha MotoGP, 3 April

But Rossi never won another MotoGP title. The final 12 seasons of his career came and went without glory.

His time at Ducati was supposed to end their barren spell. They hadn’t had a MotoGP champion since Casey Stoner in 2007 - at the time, it was only four years, but their time in the doldrums was set to last longer than they feared.

Tardozzi arrived in 2014 as team manager - he had previously worked in the World Superbikes championship.

Gigi Dall’Igna came in at the same time as general manager and led the Desmosedici project which would eventually restore Ducati to the top of MotoGP.

Rossi’s fingerprints were all over Francesco Bagnaia’s title victory last year. Bagnaia, a VR46 graduate, was Ducati’s first champion since 2007 and the first Italian since 2009. He was the first Italian on an Italian bike in 50 years, a piece of history that Rossi missed for himself.

How things might have been different if Ducati paired the star rider with a star management team…

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