Valentino Rossi failed to come to grips with the Ducati Desmosedici during his ill-fated two-year stint on Borgo Panigale because Rossi couldn't adapt to the bike's unique riding style, new Ducati boss Bernhard Gobmeier said to English media.
Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi fled back to Yamaha this season after a disastrous spell with Ducati. He scored no victories and just three podium finishes in two seasons. Retired World Champion Casey Stoner is the only rider who has produced consistent success with both the trellis- and carbon fiber-framed Ducati machines, winning 23 races and the 2007 World Championship for the team between 2007-10.
Gobmeier compared Rossi's struggles at Ducati to those of fellow Italian Marco Melandri, who came to Bologna in 2008. Melandri never stood on the podium in his only season with Ducati after producing five victories and 17 podium finishes with Gresini Honda from 2005-07.
"I believe and Ducati believes that Valentino is one of the greatest riders ever," Gobmeier said. "But I think he is also a victim of the genes of the Ducati. They didn't change too much from 2007 to 2012. The bike got better, but riders like Melandri or Valentino, who are very sensitive, they expected a certain reaction of what the bike should do. So when they didn't get that reaction, they get confused.
"The way they interacted with the bike simply didn't match. I believe that Valentino, from a riding and feel standpoint coming from a very good Yamaha, he had some problems because the bike reacted totally different to what he was used to.
"These guys learned how to ride when they were kids. They don't ride with their brain, but it is a natural feeling. They rely on reflexes, and if you give them some input that is strange, their natural feeling is not used to it, and they have to think about what to do. And once they have to think about it, they are already slow because it is not coming naturally."
That was evident from Rossi's first test on the Ducati in November 2010 at Valencia.
The Doctor reportedly told friends at Laguna during the summer of 2011 that he knew he made a mistake to leave his technical comfort zone at Yamaha within his first five laps on the Desmosedici. "This is the biggest mistake of my life," he said then.