Even before the number 46 GP11 has seen race action, Ducati is leveraging Valentino Rossi's star power in a way that Yamaha never managed. Ducati's pre-season MotoGP night at Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore was packed with 38,000 fans, giving us a taste of the Ducati/Rossi combo’s draw. To put that number in context, only 51,436 people attended Laguna Seca MotoGP on race day last year.
The idea of a company capitalizing an athlete's celebrity status is nothing new, but the pairing of a rider of Rossi's celebrity and the Ducati lifestyle brand, flush with fans of its own, is a rare anomaly in the motorcycle world. These photos and video show a scene more reminiscent of a stadium rock concert than they do a pre-season motorcycle party.