Ducati: Rossi deal brings icons together
|By Simon Strang and David Emmett||Sunday, August 15th 2010, 20:32 GMT|
Valentino Rossi was motivated to make his historic switch to Ducati after seven years racing for Yamaha because of the strong relationship he struck up with the Italian manufacturer's general manager Filippo Preziosi - that is the view of the company's president Gabriele del Torchio.
Speaking at a press conference in the Brno paddock, Preziosi described the long-expected two-year deal as the combination of two Italian racing 'icons'.
" I believe that the main reason is down to the relationship he has established with Filippo Preziosi," said del Torchio. "I believe this was the key factor. It is not a question of money.
"Obviously it is my opinion that Valentino will be proud to ride and race with an Italian bike but in the meantime the relationship with Filippo played a very important role."
It remains unclear when Rossi will be cleared to ride a Ducati MotoGP bike for the first time as a factory rider, though del Torchio is hopeful that he will be able to participate in the post-season test immediately after the Valencia finale in November.
"This decision is not in our hands but we expect Yamaha to release him at the end of the year," said del Torchio. "It is their decision not ours. The only thing that I can say is that we have released Casey Stoner. He will be released to ride the Honda bike after the final race at Valencia.
"So I am expecting that they revert something to us. We are still talking but there is no final decision."
Del Torchio added that Ducati and Rossi had been in discussion for months, but a final agreement was only reached recently: "It is quite a long history. Obviously we have had contact since a few months ago.
"Basically we decided to work together in July but the contract was finally only a few days ago," he added. "It was a very recent decision and this is the reason why we announced it in Brno."
Del Torchio also refused to be drawn on whether Rossi intends to bring Jerry Burgess, the crew chief who has overseen his entire MotoGP career, to Ducati with him, but added 'it is mainly a decision that we will leave to Valentino.'
He did however reveal that Ducati intended to invest extra funding to ensure that the MotoGP team had the budget to develop the programme.
"We will put all the money that is necessary for it to be successful," he said. "We don't disclose this number, but obviously we are aware that the challenge is so important that we will be in a condition to invest more money than in the past."
Del Torchio also said that Nicky Hayden is expected to be Rossi's team-mate in 2011: "There will be a second rider and we are in conversation with Nicky Hayden and I am confident we will achieve an agreement with him even if we have not yet signed anything."