Madonna di Campiglio - Motorcycling's seven-time world champion, Valentino Rossi is realistic about the 2012 Ducati closing the gap on its Honda and Yamaha competitors in the MotoGP championship.
Speaking at a Ducati launch at Madonna di Campiglio in Italy, Rossi said: "We’re starting with a different spirit."
“When I came to (Ducati), I was still healing from my shoulder operation, and after that, the season didn’t go at all like we’d hoped. For this year, Filippo (Preziosi) designed a different bike, and they’ve made a big effort at Ducati to have it in time for the start of the winter tests. I visited the factory and saw it on a computer, and it’s beautiful. We’re not expecting it to be immediately perfect at Sepang, but rather to understand if we’ve worked in the proper direction.
"We’re very realistic, and our goal is to reduce the gap to our competition, step by step, working in a logical way, and from there to be able to refine the details in order to be competitive and to try and win. One of the most important things for going fast is to make the tyres work as they're able to, so together with Filippo, we’ve tried to come up with a bike that will let them perform as well as possible. We’ll see if we’ve managed it. I like working with Ducati. I feel good here because there’s a nice atmosphere and we all have faith.”
30-year-old American Nicky Hayden is recovering from a scapula fracture suffered at the end of last month but is still confident of playing a role in the first MotoGP test at Sepang at the end of January.
“I’m much better,” said Hayden, “so I’ve been able to remove the sling right on schedule. Here at Madonna di Campiglio, I’m starting to do a little training on a stationary bicycle under the supervision of the team physiotherapist, with the goal of being ready for the Sepang test as strong as possible. I can’t wait to ride the GP12, because it will be my first time ever. I wasn’t able to try it in the post-race test at Valencia, and I definitely won’t miss the next chance. I never made any secret that I prefer the new displacement to the 800s, although I think things will be much different than in 2006, beginning with the tyres, and the electronics have also come a long way. We’ll have more power, and we’ll have to find the right balance between controlling it while still taking as much advantage of it as we can. I’ve stayed in contact with Filippo (Preziosi) and the guys in the Ducati Corse department over the winter, and I know they’ve worked really hard. We’ll have a lot of things to try at Sepang. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m also confident that we can start to reduce the gap between now and the first race at Qatar. I believe in Ducati, this project and Filippo, and I want to get back on my Ducati as soon as possible.”