SPEEDWAY, IN, AUG 16 – Yamaha’s 2013-14 MotoGP team said all the right things in their first appearance at the pre-race news conference for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi and Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo shared the dais with Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden, and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl in advance of the tenth race of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship. The moderator dutifully asked all the panelists questions, but it was Rossi and Lorenzo the journalists were craving for. And it was Rossi, mostly, the journalists questioned after the moderator finished his round of questions.
“Yeah, I think it's interesting to see how we can handle again Valentino and me on the same team and the same bike,” Lorenzo, Rossi’s teammate from 2008 through 2010 who will be rejoining him in the Yamaha Factory Racing team in 2013 and ‘14, said. “I'm very interested to see what is going on. And for me, it's a big pleasure to be teammate with him again.”
Much was made of the wall within the Yamaha MotoGP garage during their first year together, when they were on competing tire brands. But the wall stayed up the following year, even as Bridgestone came in as the control tire. Rossi said there would be no wall this time. “We will be very close with Jorge if he agrees,” Rossi said to laughter. And Lorenzo said, “I always say the wall is a stupid thing. It doesn't make sense for anything. No wall is OK for me and I think for Vale this time.”
As for teaming up again with Lorenzo, who Yamaha chose over Rossi leading to the nine-time world champion’s exile at the end of 2010, Rossi said, “Yeah, will be interesting. Now the situation change a lot compared to the past, compared to 2008 when Jorge arrive to Yamaha. Now he's the No. 1 in the team, and our relationship are good. I have respect for him, and he have respect for me. So I think we can stay together. I am sure that together we can form a great team for Yamaha, for try to achieve good result in the next seasons.”
Lorenzo added that he never cared about his MotoGP teammate, adding, “For me it is a pleasure to be again with Valentino, two more years with the same bike. So for me, everything is positive.
At the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix Rossi had said he had three options, Ducati and Yamaha were known, the third was the Gresini Honda team, which was an option without an offer. Clearly, moving to a MotoGP satellite team would have been a step down that Rossi wouldn’t have wanted to take. During the summer break, Rossi said he had “enough time for to think more deeply to my future. You know, this is a great pity for me and Ducati and for all of our fans, but especially for all the guys that work with me at this project because I want to try to be competitive. Italian rider with Italian bike, but unfortunately, it doesn't happen. These two seasons are very difficult, and we struggling very much. Unfortunately, we were not able to improve our speed, our performance, and to fight for the good position, for the front position.
“So I decide for this that it is enough and my choice is because I try to understand which is the best bike, the more competitive bike for the next two years that maybe at the end of my career or, you know, but anyway, the last part, and this is the choice. It's a great pity. I'm very sad, also, because I in Ducati find a lot of good people. We had great times together. We try the maximum, but unfortunately we were not able to achieve the result. So this is what makes the difference.”
He continued. “I had some different options, and I tried to choose the best bike for me for the next two seasons and just this for the rest -- the rest of the contract is not a problem. I'm happy about the contract for the next two seasons. I know that I can be stronger with the M1 and especially can enjoy because, you know, the next two seasons for me will be hard, especially try to stay with Jorge, also to beat Jorge, because now he's very, very fast. But I need a bike for enjoy. At this moment of my career I have to enjoy, I have to try to fight and to arrive happy at the racetrack.”
Whether he can win a MotoGP championship or even races on the Yamaha is something that Rossi himself isn’t sure of, he admitted.
“For sure, the world title is a dream,” he said. “ But in my condition now, especially you have to understand if I'm still a top rider, if I'm still fast, and if I can fight for the front row, if I can still fight for the podium. I don't know, because after two seasons like this, nobody knows. So before I speak about the championship, I have to understand if I can fight from the front row, I can fight for the podium. And after, we will see.”
When he arrived at Yamaha in 2004, Rossi and his team had to develop the bike into a proven MotoGP race-winner, which they did in short order. Now the motorcycle is in Lorenzo’s hands, and Rossi has no qualms with that.
“I have always great relationship with Yamaha, also, after I change bike because what's happened between me and Yamaha was something special,” he said. “But I trust them 100 percent in Yamaha for next season. So I know that Yamaha will give to me the right bike, the right material. You know, being with Jorge at this moment when he ride very strong and fantastic way, the M1 is difficult. But, you know, I have to try the bike at the end of the season, try to understand the growing up and try to understand if I can be fast like in the past. But, you know, we have to wait the result of the track, like always.”
He expects to keep the same core team which has been with him throughout his MotoGP career, a team led by crew chief Jeremy Burgess.
Whether he was also bringing a sponsor was a subject of speculation, until Rossi shut it down. The rumors that he and Lorenzo could be running in different team colors, “These are just bullshit,” Rossi said. “I don't know why I have to bring money to race with Yamaha. I am happy about my contract, and my contract is fixed. So I hope that Yamaha can find a good sponsor for next year. I think speak with some other guys and -- yes, it's true speak with Monster but already before I arrive. And the team will not be separate, for sure.” Rossi has personal sponsorship with Monster Energy, Lorenzo with competing energy drink company Rockstar.
“I don't know if maybe have one bike one sponsor, the other bike a little bit different, but I think no. I think will be all the same.”
As for his future after two more years on Yamaha's MotoGP team, and possibility of finishing his career in World Superbike, Rossi said “depends a lot from the result of the next two seasons. Because I want to remain more than two seasons in MotoGP but depends how much I'm strong and I'm fast with the M1. And to have the opportunity for the future for Superbike, yeah, I always say. But it's very early to say, because I hope to be faster, to be competitive, to enjoy and remain in MotoGP more than two season.”