Even though Valentino Rossi has not yet heard whether he will be allowed to test the Ducati after the final MotoGP round at Valencia - a fact Rossi once again made a point of mentioning in the pre-event press conference at Phillip Island - preparations are already underway at the Bologna factory for the Italian's arrival. According to the Italian magazine Motosprint, Ducati are once again evaluating whether to use a screamer or big-bang firing order in the Ducati, and will be bringing a bike with one of each engine type to Valencia should Rossi be given the all-clear to test by Yamaha. Ducati team boss and former test rider Vito Guareschi has been seen studying Rossi's riding style very closely at a number of tracks to evaluate which bike to give Rossi first.
The key to all this will be Yamaha, of course. Rossi's current employers have still not given the Italian any word on whether he will be allowed to test at Valencia, with Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis repeatedly telling reporters it is too early to make a decision just yet. Yamaha has a careful balancing act to perform, though: On the one hand, depriving Rossi of two days of testing from an already severely curtailed winter testing program will hinder both Rossi's adaptation to the Ducati and the development of the Desmosedici GP11. The downside is that it will generate an outcry and a huge amount of negative publicity among fans, and not just those who follow Rossi.
Ducati have already set an example by releasing Casey Stoner from his contract early to allow the Australian to test the Honda at Valencia, partly in the hope that Yamaha will reciprocate. Yamaha, however, are still keeping quiet about the decision, and given that it is their last hold over Rossi, they will be unlikely to announce their decision until the very last moment. That is likely to be after the Estoril MotoGP round a week before Valencia, but it could even be as late as the Valencia weekend itself.