Valentino Rossi has just retired, but there’s always an occasion for him to return. We’re obviously not talking about racing, but we’d at least like him in the role of test rider, a role already held by several illustrious predecessors, from Stoner to Lorenzo, as well as Pedrosa, who is still a test rider for KTM. This year, Quartararo had been asked if he wanted the Doctor as a tester. His answer to that question was an obvious “yes”. Now it’s up to Ducati, with Claudio Domenicali heading the team who declared that he wouldn’t mind it either. But it’s Gigi Dall’Igna who gets to decide: a little over a month ago, he had clarified that “Valentino can do whatever he wants in this world.”
Actually, at that time, there was only talk of a test on the Desmosedici, just for curiosity’s sake. Something even Matteo Flamigni, Rossi’s historic telemetry operator, considered in our interview. But one thing is indulging in a whim, another is working on the development of the bike, something that Valentino never loved that much, not even when he was a rider: “Tests are one of the most boring things,” he repeated on several occassions.
Valentino on the Ducati, even one-off, would be an excellent marketing operation, but several aspects must be considered to achieve it. The first is Rossi’s future as a driver. In the beginning, there was talk of a collaboration with Ferrari while, recently, the Doctor was in Valencia to test the WRT team’s Audi. They said they’re considering racing together. If Valentino were to race for Audi, everything would be easier, because he’d be involved with Ducati’s parent company, and that would solve the problem.
However, Rossi has always been tied to Yamaha, and this is another problem that needs solving, since it’s not clear whether this collaboration will continue or not, perhaps as ambassador, like Biaggi with Aprilia. The VR46 MotoGP team is, in fact, tied to Ducati but, at the same time, it manages the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team in the Moto2.
And even if these problems are solved, there are still technical complications involved. But, all in all, easy solutions to these can be found. With the new regulations, in fact, to ride a MotoGP, you have to be registered on the list of test riders and make use of the number of tires allowed for testing. As mentioned, this is not a difficult obstacle to overcome.
If anything, the decisions that Valentino will make about his future weigh heavily, and that’s what Dall’Igna meant above. With a future as a father and a driver, it’s unlikely that the Doctor would also want to commit to being a test rider… but a ride on the Ducati cannot be ruled out.