Yes, Valentino Rossi is back at Yamaha! Most MOTOGP fans are delighted; some (including yours truly) are groaning, others are confused... All the hype of Ducati and Vale being a match made in heaven, expectations on Rossi to turn Ducati’s fortunes around and world championships have fizzled. Rossi is back to the only mainstream team which will listen to him.
Rossi has now been with Ducati since 2 seasons, right? The Doctor hasn’t won a single race, while Stoner won 23 in his stint at Ducati. Meanwhile, Stoner has won a world championship on Honda, Lorenzo looks set to win it this year, while Italians are baying for Rossi’s blood. They feel cheated. Ducati spent a fortune to lure Rossi; they even backed out of World Superbike Championship. Italians were sure Rossi would lead this all Italian partnership to a comprehensive win. Stoner had done it... Rossi is considered far better than him, isn’t he?
What went wrong? For one, everyone (including Rossi himself) expected Lé Doctor to turn the team’s fortunes around. He was awesome on the Honda. Yamaha’s success was attributed mainly to him and Jeremy Burgess (JB). But Yamaha listened to Rossi; Ducati & Honda didn’t. Even before Rossi had moved to Yamaha, Ducati were courting him. But, JB warned, they didn’t seem keen to listen to him. That year, while the world watched Loris Capirossi struggle onboard the Duke, JB’s eyes told Rossi “I told you!” Ducati have always expected the rider to adapt; Capirossi did it, and so did Stoner. That’s why they were so successful. Rossi, Melandri, Hayden, Elias and others, however, wanted a bike custom made to their needs. That’s why, while Stoner would lead the pack, Melandri would languish somewhere in 18th place. Rossi expected to change that culture, took JB with him and the move backfired.
|Lorenzo v/s Rossi at Yamaha again!|
So why did Rossi move from Yamaha? Well, for one, Lorenzo’s presence discomforted him. He wanted the manufacturer to reduce benefits for Lorenzo. During recession, Rossi got a € 5 million pay cut. The following year, Lorenzo performed commendably and Yamaha raised his pay by € 15 million. Obviously Yamaha would invest in Lorenzo; he’s younger blood and the future of MOTOGP. Rossi felt this fee was from what belonged to him and started getting sour. What haven’t Yamaha done for Rossi? Switched to Bridgestone tires for him while the rest of the team rode on Michelins; worked day and night to make all changes he demanded to accommodate his riding style... Rossi went on to win 4 world championship titles with Yamaha. In fact, Yamaha even allowed him to test the Duke while he was on contract with the former. When at Honda, Rossi would steal into Yamaha’s garage to check the bike out (obviously he wasn’t allowed to ride it). Still, Rossi made Yamaha look like villains when he moved to Ducati. Anyone see a hint of Max Biaggi here?
It was evident from Rossi’s behaviour that he was uncomfortable with Lorenzo’s success. He moved to a team where he expected to get royal treatment like he got at Yamaha. That didn’t happen. Instead, he severely damaged his own reputation, soured relations with many in the paddock and had to use Dorna’s intervention to buy himself out of Ducati’s contract.
Now he’s back at Yamaha; the team which made him a God from a star. Someone deserving and talented will have to make way for this twisted Machiavellist. Lorenzo looks at set to win the MOTOGP world championship this year. This is a formidable all star line up for the factory Yamaha team again. What remains to be seen is how the team will treat each rider. Who will be given more importance? Stoner retires at the end of this year, Pedrossa doesn’t seem consistent enough to win a world championship, Rossi is back with the team which patronizes him; the only thorn in his side is Lorenzo (and some other protégée, if a surprise springs up next season). You can bet he’s hoping with all his heart and soul that Yamaha helps him regain lost glory. Only time will tell.