When Valentino Rossi switched from Honda to Yamaha back in 2004, he was fast right out of the gate, setting the fastest time of the Yamaha riders in his first test on the M1, then ending up 3rd fastest in an official test with all of his main rivals for the 2004 season. So when the Italian legend made his debut on the Ducati at Valencia, there was some consternation among the fans and the media about the fact that Rossi could manage only the 15th quickest time, just over 1.7 seconds off the time set by his now former teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the Yamaha.
After the Ducati press debrief with Filippo Preziosi, MotoMatters.com asked Ducati's MotoGP Project Manager Alessandro Cicognani whether Rossi's surprisingly slow times put pressure on the company. "We have to manage the pressure," Cicognani said. "But we have managed the pressure in the last month, and so we will manage the pressure in the coming months." Cicognani acknowledged the expectations resting on both Ducati and Valentino Rossi, but emphasized that the Bologna company's main focus was to work on the 2011 machine. "We know that people expected a lot," Cicognani told MotoMatters.com, "but as Filippo said, we are going back [to Bologna], and we will continue to work." There was no cause for concern, Cicognani reiterated: "We know who the rider is, so we are not worried."
Asked whether the test result was an indication of the risk Ducati had taken, Cicognani deftly sidestepped the question. "I think that this will make the next season even more interesting, if we needed it!" Cicognani said. "In the next test, for sure, there will be even more people in front of our garage," Ducati's MotoGP Project Manager joked.