Nancy Knapp Schilke
Valentino Rossi indicated at the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, that he might not stay with Ducati. On August 10th, Yamaha Factory Team announced that “The Doctor” had come home.
It was obvious that the seven-time champion was unhappy in his current ride with the Ducati Team even though there were signs of improvement. Rossi’s mannerisms in the MotoGP paddock, as well as in the Ducati garage, indicated that he felt they were still not on par with the Honda and Yamaha teams – their new prototype bike had simply missed the mark in 2011, and Ducati was still off the pace of their two main rivals this year.
We are both winning riders and neither wants to lose.
As the 2010 season came to a close, Rossi was excited when the Italian team wooed him away from the Yamaha Factory Team. Obviously the Japanese team did not hold a grudge after the Italian parted ways with them in favor of riding for his homeland team. Rossi left Yamaha with four championships and 46 grand prix victories.
He rejoins his teammate, who challenged him for the championship even as a rookie. Jorge Lorenzo joined the team in 2008, and in 2010, the Spaniard won his maiden championship. This year, he holds the points lead after 10 grand prix events; five of which won.
Lorenzo is pleased to have Rossi back as a teammate. His current one, American Ben Spies, announced just prior to the first of the two races on American soil that he would not renew his contract with Yamaha. In an interview during the Colin Edwards’ Boot Camp, Lorenzo said, "We are both winning riders and neither wants to lose. I think our relationship has got better, though maybe it's got better because we were in different teams.”
When on the same team, the two were like oil and water. “It's a big motivation to have him back because I always like to have the best riders in my garage,” Lorenzo smiled,
On the other side of the coin is the relationship that Rossi has had with Casey Stoner. The two rivals have exchanged words in the past, and neither he nor the Australian see eye-to-eye. That was very notable in an interview by Stoner today. Before his ride with the Repsol Honda team in 2011, Stoner was with Ducati, and earned his first of his two championships with the Italian team.
Per his official interview with the Australian MotoGP™ broadcaster Ten, the defending MotoGP champion blasted Rossi for making the switch, along with the Italian’s crew chief Jeremy (Jerry) Burgess.
"They ate their words from day one. Jerry saying that it would take him 80 seconds to fix that bike and that it was a simple issue and now they have had almost two years and have not made any inroads. Valentino obviously doesn't want to push limits and ride a bike that is not perfect; he has admitted that,” said Stoner.
The Aussie went on to remark that “Valentino has gone there and done nothing but complain about the bike for almost two years. The amount of times that guy has had to eat his words is not funny, but people still forgive him for it."
This weekend’s 11th race of the 2012 season could be even more interesting than the fans expected. It could be just as hot off the track as the action on the track in Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, USA.