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GP Week : Issue 96
AT a rumoured 30-million Euros (US$38m) for two years, Rossi's move to the Marlboro Ducati team will be the biggest financial rider deal in the history of MotoGP. But the rider was quite clear ... it was not about the money. "In fact, what they offered was exactly the same as at Yamaha -- zero difference," he said. And the decision had been far from straightforward, he told reporters after the Brno test, and he had started thinking about it at the beginning of the year, when he first spoke to Ducati. He had found them "a lot more open than in the past to fix all the important things of the contract." Details such as PR duties (Marlboro generally demands a lot in this regard) and off-track requirements would be more flexible, he thought. Even so, he had wavered back and forth before reaching the decision. There were a couple of key issues. The first was the imminent compulsory retirement of Yamaha director and racing chief Masao Furusawa: "For seven years he was always the number one at Yamaha for me. Without him, I don't know what will happen." The second was the feeling "that my work here at Yamaha is finished."The development of the M1 had culminated in a couple of fast young riders on the machine, Lorenzo and Spies. "So it looks like for me here the time is finished. "I need a new adventure, some new experience, but especially a new motivation," he said. Another crucial draw had been his admiration for Ducati technical chief Filippo Preziosi: "I always speak with Filippo, and I see in him similar behaviour as in Furusawa in 2004. He wants me and he trusts in me, and he thinks that together we can improve the Ducati. So I am curious." The Ducati at present, he thought, was similar to the Yamaha, perhaps slightly inferior: "not a big difference. The potential of the Ducati is quite good." Testing famine to be eased MOTOGP teams are expecting a concession that will boost the number of pre-season tests next year by one, and introduce a greater variety -of tracks. At the same time, Dorna's curtain-raising showpiece tests at Jerez will also be reinstated. Complaints from riders and engineers have been rife over the past two seasons since the previously generous testing schedule was slashed to cut costs. In 2010, two visits to Sepang in Malaysia were followed by one night test at Qatar. Stoner is one rider who was immediately critical: "Whatever works at Sepang doesn't work anywhere else, and with the night test there's not a good chance to get the bike set up," he said earlier this year. Others to complain include Hayden, whose switch to Ducati last year was made much more difficult, and Rossi, who repeated his comments at Brno, when contemplating the task of adapting himself to the Ducati for next year, and vice versa. "Everybody understands that like this it is not enough," he said, with World Superbikes having more than twice as much testing time. Before we had too much testing: now not enough." The proposed schedule put forward at Brno returns Australia's Phillip Island and Jerez to the schedule, but cuts out Qatar. Extra pre-season sessions will help Stoner, Rossi Biggest deal in racing -- Rossi "not about the money" 16