Valentino Rossi remains motivated and determined to transform Ducati’s fortunes in MotoGP, despite conceding he’s little chance to start the new 1000cc era in Qatar on Sunday night with a rostrum.
Ducati boss Vittoriano Guareschi says Rossi’s motivation remains high, despite a tough pre-season testing campaign for the nine-times world champion.
A radical new GP12 with twin spar aluminium frame aimed at curing a persistent understeer issue has not yet delivered the vast improvement the 33-year-old had hoped.
And he finished the last pre-season test in Jerez in sixth position, but he was still almost a second adrift of the fastest pace set by reigning world champion Casey Stoner.
But Guareschi said Rossi’s motivation remains strong. “He is not young like when arrived in Yamaha in 2004 but the motivation is very high and I think Valentino with good support can fight for victories. It is important to have a good start and stay close to the top,“ said Guareschi.
Despite a disastrous 2011 that saw Rossi score just one podium finish all year and lose his record of winning at least one race each year in his Grand Prix career, the Italian never publicly blasted Ducati.
Previously at Honda and Yamaha, Rossi wasn’t afraid to voice concerns about the performance of his machinery.
But in public at least so far, he has refused to condemn Ducati for a lack of results.
Guareschi added: “Valentino understood immediately that we worked to improve the bike and not stay in the same situation. We understand what he wanted and we started immediately to change the bike.
"It was not possible to immediately change the bike and we needed time to develop. But we knew we had to make a completely different bike. I think because of this Valentino stayed very calm.”
Rossi’s former factory Yamaha boss Davide Brivio agrees and he told MCN: “I think because he can see just how hard they are working it is very difficult to criticise or complain.
"The engineers really want to make this bike a success. They built three bikes last year and it is very hard to say bad things.”
Brivio also has no doubts about Rossi’s motivation heading to the first race in Doha on Sunday night. But he said it was imperative that the GP12 improves in the early part of the season to keep Rossi's motivation up.
Brivio added: “I still see Valentino strongly motivated but honestly I don’t know how long he can keep his motivation without seeing some results. He needs to see some encouragement to keep his motivation.
"I’m not sure how long it can last at this level if the results don’t come. He really wants to get back to the top and to taste again the enjoyment of being at the front.”