Rossi set to ride Ducati MotoGP bike

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi is set to ride Ducati’s MotoGP bike, its test rider Michele Pirro has announced on social media.

Rossi’s career as a motorcycle racer ended at last weekend’s Valencia Grand Prix, but his presence will still be felt in the grand prix paddock through the VR46 Racing Team.

The seven-time premier class champion ended his career as a contracted Yamaha rider but his own team will run Ducatis when it debuts in MotoGP next year, hence the possibility of saddling up on a Desmosedici.

When that will occur has not been specified, although it could conceivably happen as early as tonight (AEDT) when the post-season test commences at Jerez.

Rossi spent most of his latter 18 seasons with Yamaha, although he had an unsuccessful period as a factory Ducati rider in 2011 and 2012, something which Pirro is well aware of.

“Sharing the track with the motorcycle G.O.A.T. was a great privilege,” wrote #51 on Instagram.

“I asked him to do a few laps on today’s Ducati Desmosedici GP, and he will do it.

“… When I got to Ducati he was still there, and I know what he’s been through. I’ve had nightmares for years … and only Casey Stoner won [the championship with Ducati], who has pure talent to sell.”

Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo won this year’s riders’ championship but Ducati took the constructors’ and teams’ titles, and finished the year with a sweep of the podium in Valencia.

Pirro cited those achievements as evidence of the progress made at the Bologna factory.

“Seeing how Sunday went in Valencia, we can say that something has changed in recent years from a technical point of view,” he added.

“Many will say that the others won the riders’ world championship, but true fans and Ducatisti can be proud of the improvements that have been made. Thanks to all the Ducati Corse guys.

“Since last year Ducati has decided to focus on young riders. Let’s give them time that the possibility of bringing the riders’ world championship back to Borgo Panigale is high.

“Thanks Vale… Thanks Ducati.”

VR46 will field Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi in the premier class next year, on a GP22 and GP21 respectively, although mystery still surrounds its Saudi Arabia partnership and the mooted title backing from state-owned petroleum company Aramco.

Neither VR46’s MotoGP team nor its own Moto2 squad have naming rights sponsors on the official entry lists which were released this week, despite the latter being identified as ‘Aramco VR46 Team’ on a provisional list issued in September.

Aramco itself denied knowledge of the deal almost as soon as it was announced in April, and the holding company of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud has missed at least three media appointments relating to the partnership.

There will be two VR46-branded outfits in Moto2 next year, with the ‘Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team’ also joining the grid.

Celestino Vietti and Niccolo Antonelli will ride for VR46’s own team, with the Yamaha-owned squad to field Manuel Gonzalez and Keminth Kubo.

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