MotoGP pre-season testing for year 2011 has ended, with the latest being test at Qatar, on 13-14th March. Repsol Honda has finished the test in a strong one-two position, with Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa filling the top two positions. Valentino Rossi only managed to finished 13th overall, and had a fall on both testing days.
Valentino Rossi made a multi-million dollar deal with Ducati and switched from Yamaha last year, since the tension and professional rivalry between Yamaha Duo; Jorge Lorenzo and him was growing each day. Rossi had been riding with damaged shoulder (the injury that he took due to motocross training accident before Jerez GP last year) the complete 2010 season, he also broke his right leg at Mugello and missed four races. Rossi eventually finished 3rd overall, whereas Lorenzo took the championship, so I would say it was time that either Rossi or Jorge had to leave Yamaha. Since Jorge had every chance of winning the championship, and which he actually did, so it was evident that Rossi would make the switch.
In the post season testing, the Rossi could only finish 15th overall but that was understandable, as he did not want to crash on his right shoulder. In addition, Casey Stoner had been losing the front of the Ducati on numerous occasions last year, so Rossi would not want to take risks. Now that he had the shoulder operation, and had successfully recuperated in 3 months period, there is no excuse now.
I, being a fan of Rossi, am worried about him, as he has been unable to cope with the Ducati. He has not been able to make an impression yet that he can ride the Duke as he wanted. Not finishing in the top-ten and not having enough strength in the right shoulder is not a good sign at all for Rossi. If it is the problem with the bike, then we should acknowledge the talent of Stoner, as he had been riding the Ducati around the problems for the past few years. Some people say that the rider is the one that makes the difference, but how far have Honda gone to show it to Rossi that the rider is not everything, the bike also plays an important part in winning races! Honda have entered 2011 season with 4 factory riders, with the intension of winning the last 800cc MotoGP World Championship, and from off-season testing results, it will probably be the case.
Casey Stoner has coped with Honda very quickly, and has finished off-season testing on a high. Dani Pedrosa is also performing very well. My eyes would be on Rossi though, and hope that Rossi gets some more strength in his shoulder and finds something in the bike to lower his lap times in order to challenge for higher positions on the race day of Qatar, which is scheduled for 20 March.