After what seems like an eternity, Valentino Rossi has made his first official public appearance as a rider for Ducati.
Because Rossi was under contract with Yamaha until January 1st, he was allowed to participate in the post-season test at Valencia, but prohibited from appearing in Ducati livery or speaking publicly on the subject until 2011.
The maiden appearance was part of Wrooom 2011, the 21st annual press event put on by Philip Morris International to showcase their sponsored riders and F1 drivers.
At the press conference, Rossi spoke about the upcoming season and his shoulder injury. He stated that he wouldn’t be completely recovered from surgery until sometime in April, which means it will affect all preseason testing and at least one round.
When asked about his progress, he replied, “[The] shoulder is not as good as I had hoped. We need more time.” Later, he added, “It’s a race against time to be ready for the first race, mainly physically for me.”
Speaking about his new mount, he referred to his new team’s approach by saying, “The Ducati is different from all the other bikes. It’s a proper prototype. The concept is different from the Japanese factories.” He also said the Ducati needed a ‘dirtier’ style than the Japanese bikes he’s ridden in the past.
When asked about his rivals for 2011, he named Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner as the favourites for the championship. Dani Pedrosa could not be reached for comment.