Valentino Rossi to put some demons to rest with surprise Ducati MotoGP test?

Valentino Rossi is eager to ride the Ducati GP21 his VR46 Racing team will use in the 2022 MotoGP World Championship, according to Michele Pirro 

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi has reportedly promised to throw his leg over the Ducati GP21 in a private test to discover how far the machine has come ten years after a largely disastrous switch to the Italian manufacturer changed the course of his career.

Rossi brought his 25-year international grand prix racing career to an emotional conclusion in Valencia over the weekend, a tenure that yielded nine GP world titles, seven of which were achieved in the premier 500/MotoGP class.

He is also one of only four riders to win the biggest prize in motorcycle racing with two different manufacturers - Honda and Yamaha - but in the pursuit of becoming the first to achieve three, his switch to Ducati in 2011 proved to be a significant misstep.

Considered to be a ‘dream team’ combination of an Italian legend in an Italian team, Rossi replaced his Honda-bound arch rival Casey Stoner - to date Ducati’s only World Champion - at the height of their intense rivalry, raising the stakes for success even higher.

However, it was a nondescript couple of years for Rossi as he struggled to get a hold on the Ducati’s stiff nature, the Italian achieving only a trio of podiums before returning to Yamaha for the reminder of his career in 2013.

Indeed, Rossi’s troubles on the Ducati were not uncommon, his complaints echoed by the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden, Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso, even if the latter went on to enjoy substantially more success as the years passed.

However, after Ducati was forced to break with tradition to put its faith in its younger proteges for 2021 - rather than snatch a big name rider - it enjoyed arguably its strongest season since 2007, picking up seven wins between three different riders. 

Heading into the winter as favourites to come out fighting in 2022, the man credited as the brains behind Ducati’s return to form - test rider Michele Pirro - says Rossi is keen to find out how far the bike has come, not least because his own VR46 Racing team will be using GP21s in 2022 for its inaugural season in MotoGP.

“Sharing the track with the ‘GOAT’ was a great privilege,” ex-MotoGP rider Pirro said. “I asked him to do a few laps on the Ducati GP21 and he will, because when I got to Ducati he was still there, and I know what  he’s been through. I had nightmares for years that the Ducati could only win with Casey Stoner’s talent.

“Seeing how things have gone on Sunday in Valencia, we can say that something in these years from the technical point of view has changed. Many will say that others have won the Riders’ World Championship, but true fans and the Ducatisti can be proud of all the improvements that have been made.”