It wasn't that long ago that you'd see a familiar curly-haired man standing among the photographers on Sunday at any of the Italian World Superbike races.
Valentino Rossi has always been a big fan of World Superbike. When MotoGP and WSBK were rivals he made legs shake in fear seemingly every year by saying that one day he hoped to race a season of WSBK.
The possibility of seeing Rossi race an R1 with 46 on the side seems to be reducing as the years pass.
For whatever reason Rossi no longer views WSBK as a fun championship that would be an attractive alternative to play-riding at his ranch or playing a game console.
It's, of course, not a popular opinion in Bologna, but one of the casualties of "the great failure" (Rossi joining Ducati's MotoGP team) was Ducati's WSBK team and perhaps WSBK itself.
At about the same time as Rossi joined Ducati, they began to cannibalize their factory WSBK for engineers and support staff, and in due time the factory Ducati team was shut down--even though they had existing sponsorship deals (with major sponsors) with still a season left on the contracts.
When Ducati's factory team left WSBK so they could concentrate on Rossi joining the factory MotoGP team, some feel that move ripped away part of the foundation from under WSBK.
Rossi isn't alone in feeling that modern day WSBK is slightly unappealing, even though the series boasts some of the best racing you'll see on world championship level tracks.
The last, few remaining WSBK militants (you know who you are) never wanted Rossi to join the Superbike championship and some only wanted to see him race there because they wanted to see him get his butt handed to him on production-based bikes.
Whatever the case and whatever your opinion of the background behind the demise of Ducati WSBK effort, you won't be seeing Rossi on a Superbike any time soon.