Valentino Rossi was unable to master Ducati’s fearsome Desmosedici machine because the bike behaved in a way that was totally alien to the riding style the nine-times world champion honed for almost two decades MotoGP paddock.
That’s the view of new Ducati boss Bernhard Gobmeier, who has been charged with spearheading Ducati’s recovery after the Bologna factory endured a miserable lack of success with Rossi on board in 2011 and 2012.
Rossi scored just three podium finishes in 35 appearances for Ducati and after failing to turn the Desmosedici into a consistent podium contender, the Italian has moved back to Yamaha for 2013.
Retired Aussie Casey Stoner remains the only rider to enjoy major success while riding for Ducati when he dominated the 2007 world championship with 10 wins.
Stoner, who won 23 races in a four-year stint with Ducati, has often criticised Rossi and other top talent for not being more adaptable to get the best out of the Desmosedici, which hasn’t come close to winning a race since Stoner departed for Repsol Honda at the end of 2010.
But Gobmeier believes the likes of Rossi and compatriot Marco Melandri, who had a torrid time as Stoner’s teammate at Ducati in 2008, struggled because the Ducati reacted completely differently to the Japanese bikes they had previously raced for Honda and Yamaha.
Gobmeier told MCN: “I believe and Ducati believes that Valentino is one of the greatest rider’s ever. But I think he is also a victim of the genes of the Ducati. They didn't change too much from 2007 to 2012. The bike got better but riders like Melandri or Valentino, who are very sensitive, they expected a certain reaction of what the bike should do. So when they didn't get that reaction they get confused.
The way they interacted with the bike simply didn’t match. I believe that Valentino, from a riding and feel standpoint coming from a very good Yamaha, he had some problems because the bike reacted totally different to what he was used to.”
Rossi was 32 when he completed his first race for Ducati at the beginning of 2011 and Gobmeier believes it was too difficult for Rossi to alter a style he had developed and fine-tuned since racing as a small child.
He added: “These guys learnt how to ride when they were kids. They don’t ride with their brain but it is a natural feeling. They rely on reflexes and if you give them some input that is strange, their natural feeling is not used to it and they have to think about what to do. And once they have to think about it they are already slow because it is not coming naturally.”