After a marriage of two years Ducati and Valentino Rossi have filed for divorce. A press release issued by the Bologna manufacturer showed marked similarities to a Hollywood couple’s statement of “irreconcilable differences” between both parties.
For Rossi the differences that were impossible to overcome was a distinct lack of front end feel that made it impossible for the nine times world champion to have any confidence under braking. For Ducati it was Rossi’s inability to adapt to the Ducati.
In addition to these differences both parties had already started to see other people with Rossi looking to win back an old flame in the form of Yamaha and Ducati seemingly talking to anyone willing to ride their bike.
Only Casey Stoner has been able to achieve sustained success at Ducati in recent years and with even Rossi having struggled it is hard to see the factory rebounding quickly. Nicky Hayden has been a solid rider throughout his tenure with Ducati and it seems inevitable that he will be partnered by one of the Tech3 Yamaha riders next season.
Cal Crutchlow had seemed to be the most likely rider to replace Rossi but at the 11th hour Andrea Dovizioso has come into the frame and with the Italian having stood on the rostrum consistently in 2012 he seems to be the favourite to take the seat.
Today’s press release was a pre-emptive move from Ducati and an attempt to save face by ending the marriage before Rossi had the chance to walk away but it was clear that the Italian manufacturer is already looking to woo a replacement with the statement finishing:
“Racing has always been in Ducati’s DNA, and now more than ever, it is integral to the Borgo Panigale company’s product development and image. AUDI shares Ducati’s strategic approach and agrees with its growing commitment to competition.”
Audi’s knowledge and finances will be key in turning around the fortunes of the team but given the recent performances of so many riders it will be a big challenge for whomever fills Rossi’s shoes.