7 Aug 2012

Rossi to Yamaha - all but confirmed

The rumour mill finally seems to be over.  Two things have happened today that have convinced the MotoGP world, and particularly the Italian press, that Valentino Rossi will ride for Yamaha.

First - Yamaha have announced to journalists that a statement will be issued on 15 August at 9am CET - 2 years to the day that that Ducati confirmed Rossi's signing.

Second - Masao Furusawa (all round genius, Godfather of the Yamaha M1 and whose retirement was one of the reasons Rossi went to Ducati) was not convinced to come out of retirement and help with the Ducati.  Rossi would probably have stayed at Ducati were Furusawa  to have joined the team.

In 2010 Furuwasa had this to say about Rossi going to Ducati -   “I know the advantages and disadvantages of the Ducati bike. The point is whether or not Valentino can point these out, and then whether Ducati can follow his recommendations." 

And now we all know.  Ducati couldn't, or wouldn't follow his recommendations.  Rossi himself has stated that he has two years left in MotoGP.  Audi's Euros and influence would take too long to filter through to make the Ducati GP13 or 14 fast enough to deliver another championship - and maybe even wins - for Rossi.

The past few days have seen intense speculation:

  • 2 August - La Gazetto dello Sport reported that Rossi has signed to Yamaha for MotoGP in 2013 and 2014 and thereafter would move to World Superbike in 2015.
  • 3 August - Niall Mackenzie apparently tweeted - "Done deal! A well known Italian will definitely be on a blue bike next year, woo hoo!"  Supposedly Niall had bumped into Rossi at Yamaha's European HQ.  
  • 4 August - We were subsequently told this was untrue and that Niall's twitter account had been hacked by a 'Frenchman'.  The subsequent denial may or may not be true.  What is true is that Niall's son, Taylor Mackenzie rides for Yamaha in the British Supersport series and that the Mackenzies may have been persuaded to stay quiet whilst Yamaha puts things in order.
  • Also on 4 August we learned that Jorge Lorenzo had been briefed by Yamaha that Rossi would be rejoining the team.  this is what Jorge had to say -  "He (Lin Jarvis) has already talked to me about this at the last race and for me it is OK....for Yamaha maybe it is a good thing for them to sign Valentino and try to come back with two bikes in first and second."
  • 7 August - Yamaha tell the press an announcement will be made on 15 August.
  • Also on 7 August one of the Ducati MotoGP team technicians said this on twitter (over 3 tweets) - "We have a huge R&D meeting here (Bologna) Thursday, to discuss the plan for the rest of the season, lay out on a calendar when upgrades should be available, and for what races etc, it will be very hard to do that without knowing who is going to be riding the bike!!"  He also clarified that Audi will immediately be able to input by making parts that currently sit on the drawing board.

The above sequence of events puts into content Ben Spies decision to leave Yamaha.  His announcement was made shortly after Lorenzo was briefed.  Therefore Spies would have wanted to announce he was leaving before Yamaha announced he was being booted out.

So we all wait for 15 August.  The likelihood of Yamaha not announcing they have signed Rossi is about as much as Ferrari announcing they have signed him to partner Alonso in Formula 1.

There then follows the decision by Ducati as to who will replace Valentino.  At the moment it seems a straight fight between Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso.

Hopefully Rossi will return to his winning ways on the Yamaha.  Lorenzo is an immensely gifted rider and strong competitor but let us not forget Valentino Rossi has won nine World Championships.  And he hopes to make it ten.