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Nov 17, 2010

Nicky Hayden, Ducati And Mercedes-AMG Are Stars Of Los Angeles Auto Show Media Day

If you didn't arrive early this was as close as you could get to the Mercedes-AMG and Ducati press conference Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Photo by David Swarts/
Chevrolet showed its new Camaro convertible, Audi had a fleet of high-performance sports cars on display and Volkswagen even brought in supermodel Heidi Klum to promote its new EOS convertible, but the true stars of Wednesday's media day at the Los Angeles Auto Show may have been Mercedes-AMG, Ducati and MotoGP racer Nicky Hayden.

At 10:20 a.m. local time in front of literally hundreds of journalists and interested observers at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles, Mercedes-AMG unveiled its new, 2012-model CLS 63 AMG, which boasts a 5.5 liter (5461cc) V8 "biturbo" engine that produces 557 horsepower while getting 32% better fuel economy than the 514-horsepower, naturally-aspirated 6.3-liter V8 used in other AMG cars.

But shortly after the applause died down for the CLS, Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, introduced Gabriele del Torchio, President and CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.. The two men then announced that Mercedes-AMG and Ducati have entered a co-marketing agreement that includes Mercedes-AMG's sponsorship of the Ducati MotoGP team.

Mercedes-AMG will not be the headline sponsor of the team. That will likely remain Marlboro, according to Ducati North America spokesman John Paolo Canton, and be announced at a later time. Mercedes-AMG, however, will have signage on the Ducati MotoGP racebikes, will be the Official Car Partner of the team and Mercedes-Benz will be the new supplier of team's trucks.

The announcement also ends speculation that Fiat will come with Rossi from Yamaha to be the new headline sponsor of the Ducati MotoGP team.

To highlight the new relationship between Mercedes-AMG and Ducati, del Torchio then cued the West Coast premiere of Ducati's new performance cruiser, the Diavel.

A Diavel Carbon, the only running pre-production model in the world, according to Canton, was then ridden on stage by Hayden, who received enthusiastic applause.

After a short scripted chat between Hayden, del Torchio and Källenius, the press conference was concluded. Photographers then spent the next 10 or 15 minutes trying to get photos of the three men, the Diavel and the CLS. And even after del Torchio and Källenius moved on to interviews, Hayden remained busy with photographers for another 15 minutes, at least.

Then as most of the media members moved on to other activities at the show, racing enthusiasts and Ducati fans adorned in business suits and wearing badges identifying them as representatives of other auto manufacturers came over one and two at a time to get an autograph or take a photo with Hayden and to check out the Diavel.

As I later left the show I saw other press conferences going on and other unveilings being prepared, but nothing I saw rivaled the amount of media attention or the level of enthusiasm shown for Mercedes-AMG, Ducati, the Diavel or Hayden.