MotoGP fans would definitely be upset or angry about the Rossi-Ducati team-up since the 2010 Post Season testing. I can understand being a Rossi fan that Rossi has been unable to cope with Ducati, even after nine rounds into the 2011 MotoGP season with enough testing time (according to my opinion).
Valentino Rossi has only managed one podium so far at Le Mans; which some believe was achieved due to misfortunes of others, and have the best qualifying place of 7th at Catalunya, and we are already into round nine; Sachsenring of the world championship 2011. This is not acceptable to most of his fans, and gives the green-flag to fans of other riders about his ability to ride (almost any bike). We understand that his shoulder had been the worry point in the post and pre season testing, so his performance in the early stages of the season was acceptable.
Since Casey Stoner is doing so well at the Honda, and with Rossi struggling on Ducati, which Stoner rode for 4 years and had 24/25 victories, it has probably cleared some doubts. One that Stoner is the only one who had mastered the Ducati, and could actually win on it consistently. Secondly, Rossi cannot work around the problems he’s facing with the Ducati bike and ride the bike as he would like, at present, so he is no God (as some forums say).
I would say, “If Rossi cannot master the Ducati (this season), so what?” Give Rossi a break, the Duke has been known as a career breaker. Nicky Hayden has been on the Factory Ducati Team for the third year running, and he has not been able to win on it yet, after all, he is a World Champion you know! He has achieved like 3 or 4 podiums during his Ducati Career, right? Rossi has only been riding it for nine races, and with pre-season testing and first couple of races hampered due to his shoulder problems, he definitely needs more track time. I believe, he is struggling with the tyre issues more than anything else. He has been quoting to be not able to transfer enough heat in the front tyre to get it up-to the mark, ultimately not giving him the confidence or feel to push, and I agree with him. We have been seeing a lot more crashes lately, and more often because of a cold tyre. Interesting debate is going on at MCN, regarding Rider power forces Bridgestone action to provide a wide range of tyre selection.
I have always praised Casey Stoner, and had always said that I had never seen anyone ride a bike as he does, and that he is the only one who had mastered the Duke (to present). However, Rossi surely does not belong where he is now, and he knows it too. He does not want to be the back of the grid (qualified 16th of a circuit where he has nine wins, more than anyone else has), so he surely is trying his best. He does not want to be running in mid pack, trying to get a top-six finish, he wants to challenge for the victories, but for one reason or the other, he can’t! Call it a tyre factor or the Duke failure itself or Rossi’s ability to ride (that is out of question).
MCN posters are the most active in the Stoner-Rossi debates, some of them quoting that Rossi’s five of the nine World Titles should not be counted, as he won against the weaker opponents. I would say, “why?” Didn’t Rossi took the title back after 2 years by beating Casey Stoner in 2008? Didn’t he win again in 2009, when Lorenzo; his then teammate on Yamaha pushed him right till the end? Are you suggesting Rossi did not beat Casey, Dani and Lorenzo fair and square to his 6th and 7th MotoGP World Titles? Were they weaker opponents back then? He beat Casey Stoner (who won in 2008, and was then the reigning world champion), and made a record tally of 373 points in 18 races. He stood on podium on 16 occasions, and won nine times in 2008. He took six wins in 2009, and defeated Lorenzo. A win is a win, a championship won is a championship won. Rossi had been dominating the whole post-season 2009 testing and pre-season 2010 testing until the Practice sessions at Qatar, where Casey beat him. But Rossi still won that race, didn’t he?
Jorge Lorenzo was lucky in the 2010 MotoGP season (in my opinion, but he remained consistent throughout the seasons, and I give him credit for that), since Rossi in the first half and Dani in the second half, both got injured in separate incidents while challenging for the title hunt. But we would never know what would have happened if Rossi hadn’t gotten injured, but we could have guessed that it would have been like the 2009 season and a two-way title hunt between Rossi and Lorenzo.
Rossi could have won straight 6 MotoGP World Championships had he not blew it at Valencia. He was on pole with an 8-point lead over Nicky Hayden, and crashed on the first turn in the race. But that is racing, and things can happen.
So what if Rossi qualified 16th and recorded his worst result (so far) on the Ducati Team. I will still cheer for Rossi, and all other MotoGP riders. I watch all three races 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP, and I have favorite riders in each category, maybe not in 125cc any more (I would feel sorry for Terol though, if he could not manage to win the championship this year; he has lost my support anyway). I like Marquez, and if Stephen Bradl made one mistake in the second half of the championship, he will be all over him, and even win the championship.
It would be good to see Rossi and Nicky challenging for the win or at least for podiums on regular basis. It would be good for MotoGP fans as well.