Ducati MotoGP: Rossi Gets Gold Mine, Hayden Gets The Shaft
by staff
Monday, July 09, 2012

The Italian motorcycle media, which practices more hagiography than journalism with its reports about Valentino Rossi, has depicted Rossi as possibly the most tortured, aggrieved soul in the MotoGP paddock this season.

Rossi supposedly has flipped back and forth between wanting to stay and continue to develop the recalcitrant Ducati GP12 into a possible race-winning GP13 or desiring an escape from Ducati Corse because of a lack of an action plan to fix the bike and perceived ignorance of his advice by Bologna bosses.

The portrayal of Rossi as a lost soul is a crock of bullsh*t. Regardless of performance, he still will get a factory bike, earn an eight-figure salary and attract sponsors like sex-deprived photographers to umbrella girls, regardless of which machine he straddles in 2013.

Here's the truth: No MotoGP rider is feeling the impalement of an ungreased shaft more than Rossi's teammate, Nick Hayden.

Ducati quietly let the contract option for 2006 World Champion Hayden expire at the end of last month, turning him into a free agent. Hayden should be an attractive fit for any factory or elite satellite team in MotoGP, yet his name isn't being tossed about as a key carrot for hungry teams in many media reports about the Silly Season.

Hayden turns 31 on July 30, not ancient by MotoGP standards. He is a premier-class race winner. He is a World Champion. He is the top-ranking and arguably most popular American rider in the World Championship, vital for any manufacturer interested in selling bikes in the U.S. He is a tireless test rider, either leading or near the top of the lap charts at every test. He has said and done all the right things at Ducati, which never has put a competitive dry-weather bike under him during his three seasons with the team.

But more importantly, Hayden has been better than Rossi this season on the GP12.

Hayden has out-qualified Rossi in six of eight races in 2012 and finished ahead of him in four. It's widely known that a flustered Rossi started to use Hayden's setups earlier this season at some races, even if Rossi's ego wouldn't let him completely admit it.

So again, why is Nick Hayden on the outside looking in while stories circulate everywhere about Ducati's two-year offer to Cal Crutchlow and possible interest in British rider Scott Redding, who has won a whopping one race in five seasons in 125cc and Moto2?

It makes no sense. Better yet, it's nonsense.

The recent fall from grace at Ducati MotoGP is nothing short of stunning. This is a team that vied for wins at their first MotoGP race, won races their first season in the class and dominated to win the title in 2007. Since that point they have, if anything, become less competitive as the seasons pass and almost delusional about their lack of progress. Very early on in his tenure as Rossi's Ducati crewchief, Jeremy Burgess surmised that Ducati's problem pre-2011 was that they never analyzed their failures, only their successes. Has that changed at all? It is absolutely remarkable--and so telling--that they apparently feel that what ails the 2012 Ducati MotoGP bike is not any kind of flawed engineering but that they just don't have the right rider on it, other than Rossi, who has been largely trounced by soon to be off the team Hayden. This is alternative reality, bizarro-world level stuff.

In the business world, there are firms that specialize in turning around failing companies. Many times the very first change that these firms make in trying to turn a failing business into a successful one is to fire the entire upper and middle management structure of the failing business. Why? Because they know that it's nearly impossible for managers to come up with creative ways of getting out of problems that their bad ideas created in the first place. If they could have fixed it, they would have fixed it. Now it's time for new engineers and new managers.

Fire Hayden. The delusions continue.


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