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GP Week : Issue 149
Michele Pirro tests the Aprilia CRT at Jerez The days after the Qatar GP were rife with rumours that Rossi was looking for a way out of his Ducati team, sparked by the rider himself in an interview with Italian TV where he spoke out against the lack of progress and prospects with the factory squad. For the first time since he joined the all-Italian Marlboro-backed team last year, Rossi was directly critical of the factory’s progress with the bike, and the lack of response to his complaints. Always highly media-savvy, Rossi carefully selected the Mediaset interview to fire his warning shot, saying nothing of this to other Italian pressmen after the race. Rossi slammed the fact that in spite of massive design changes to the chassis, he was still having the same difficulties with understeer and lack of feeling. “The problems with the bike haven’t changed, and neither have my requests. It’s unrideable, and it doesn’t make much different what track we’re on. I cannot brake hard into the corners, and these are problems you cannot solve by set-up alone.” “I can't ride this bike, I can't make the difference,” he continued bitterly. “I can't even keep up with Hayden, and I used to be faster than him. Probably we are going worse than last year. “This Ducati has problems. I have given indications over where to intervene, but Ducati did not follow the direction that I indicated and we didn't solve our problems. I’m not an engineer and can’t do anything about it. At least the positive is that with this frame I don’t crash. And that’s something.” The tone and content of his remark sparked feverish speculation, that he was on the verge of pulling out of the team and sitting out the rest of the season. One Spanish report suggested he would go back to Yamaha next year, leasing a bike on his own account, and that he had approached Coca Cola for sponsorship. On Friday, however, Rossi poured oil on the water with another TV inter view from Monza, where he was taking part in a car race: “We will keep trying at every race; I will stay with Ducati. We will do everything we can to make our pairing successful,” he said. Ducati CEO Gabriele del Torchio also tried to defuse the situation. “It is too early to talk of divorce. Valentino was just letting off steam,” he told Italian media. ROSSI DENIES IMMINENT DUCATI SPLIT 11 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS