The pairing of Valentino Rossi to Ducati was a match made in marketing heaven. The combined selling power of the two Italian legends was beyond question, and the very definition of the word "synergy". However, the match also involved huge risk: the only rider so far able to win on the capricious Desmosedici was Casey Stoner, and if nine-time World Champion and prime candidate for the title of greatest motorcycle racer of all time Rossi also failed, then questions would be asked both of Ducati's design direction and Rossi's ability to adapt to a bike that Stoner had clearly mastered.
The results speak for themselves: Despite having put the Desmosedici GP11 on the podium at Le Mans, and currently sitting in 4th in the MotoGP championship, it is clear that Rossi is a long way from being competitive on the Ducati in its current form. Despite multiple changes having been introduced - a new subframe/airbox, a new engine with a heavier crankshaft - the Ducati is still no match for either the peerless Honda, or even the underpowered Yamaha, the bike still incredibly difficult to turn. If Rossi is to be competitive on the Ducati, clearly a radically new approach is necessary.