2013 MotoGP VR46 Interview/Profile
Following two sour years with the Ducati Team, Valentino Rossi returned to the Yamaha Factory Racing for the 2013 MotoGP Championship.
The nine-time World Champion has much success with Yamaha, winning four premier-class titles with the manufacturer (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009). The 2013 MotoGP Championship will also be Rossi’s eighth season piloting a Yamaha motorcycle in World Championship racing.
Immediately upon returning on the YZR-M1, Rossi showed signs of strength. During the opening preseason practices, he was on top of the time sheets with teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and the Repsol Honda duo of Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Marquez.
Yamaha Factory Racing unveiled its 2013 MotoGP livery Friday at Jerez ahead of the three-day preseason practice schedule there March 23-25. Following the launch of Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s machines, Yamaha also released interviews with the riders.
With seven premier-class titles, Rossi is one step closer to tying the all-time best record with Italian compatriot Giacomo Agostini, whose own final crown came with Yamaha in 1975.
Here are Rossi’s thoughts ahead of the 2013 MotoGP Championship, courtesy of a Yamaha Factory Racing interview with the 34-year old.
Q. Has your comeback to Yamaha been ‘just like music’?
Valentino Rossi says: Yes, my come back to Yamaha is a great story and a great bet, for me but also for Yamaha. After two seasons separate, we are back together to come back to the top.
Q. How good does it feel to be back home in the Yamaha family?
Valentino Rossi says: It’s a great feeling. I was a bit worried. More than worried, I did not know what to expect about the atmosphere in the team. At the end it was and still is great from every point of view. Yamaha is a family for me. I shared with them the best moments of my career and I always had great time, so I think it’s to be continued in the same way.
Q. When you said goodbye to your M1 in 2010, you wrote her a letter stating you were in love. Are you going to write a new letter this time?
Valentino Rossi says: That letter was very funny. I think I do not have to write another letter, as we are now starting from where we stopped in 2010. It’s like the last two years never happened…
Q. Yamaha gave you your greatest satisfaction as rider when you won the first championship with them in 2004. Do you feel like a child with candy again now?
Valentino Rossi says: A child with a candy is exactly my feeling now! Going on the M1 again was a great feeling for me and the first tests were pretty good. We are not yet ready but not so far from being ready for the first race.
Q. Has the M1 changed a lot since you left Yamaha in 2010?
Valentino Rossi says: Yes, the M1 has changed a lot in the last two seasons and it was a great surprise in the first test. The basis is very similar to the bike I left in 2010 but I feel that the bike has improved a lot in every area and in all the circuit parts. Yamaha did a great job in the last two seasons. The new bike has a better stability, better grip, easier to ride, better electronic system. Furthermore, the 4-in line 1000cc engine has more advantages compared to the 800cc with whom we struggled for some time.
Q. After some disappointments, does a champion still feel like a champion?
Valentino Rossi says: Yes, I am very lucky because in my career I have won many races, lots of great achievements and lots of World Championships so, yes, I still feel like a champion.
Q. Why is the Yamaha the best bike for you?
Valentino Rossi says: Yamaha is the best bike for me because it’s very suitable to my riding style and with the M1 I am able to give more than 100%. The bike is very precise and you need to ride it in a very clear way, which is what I like a lot. Yes, it’s a great bike for me and for my riding style.
Q. What would you say to all those who think that Valentino is getting too old? Do you feel you still have what it takes to be champion?
Valentino Rossi says: Unfortunately I am quite old, this is true… but I feel very good! I think the mental and the physical conditions are very important, and from this point of view I am in good shape. Especially the motivation is very important: the motivation to make everything possible to stay at the top and I still have this motivation.
Q. Jorge Lorenzo welcomed you back to Yamaha. Have you changed your perception of him?
Valentino Rossi says: I changed my perception of Jorge especially in the last two years. I had a lot of troubles but Jorge was always very friendly with me and also when he noticed I was coming back to Yamaha he was very happy, so I think that we can be a good team in the next two seasons.
Q. The ice has been broken. The answers you were waiting for have finally arrived. Are you satisfied with your pre-season work?
Valentino Rossi says: At this point I am very much satisfied. In Sepang the bike worked very well and we were already quite fast. Of course I know that the pre-season test is very different than the real races, so we’ll have to wait until 7th April to have the answer.
Q. In your opinion what’s the current YZR-M1 missing to be the perfect bike?
Valentino Rossi says: The M1 is a great bike because it has a perfect balance, is very friendly with the rider, easy to be brought to the limit. For sure we have to work a lot in different areas to be on top, because our competitors improve all the time. I think we need to improve the speed and the stability in acceleration, to exit faster from the corners.
Q. What kind of season do you expect to have after these early tests?
Valentino Rossi says: I hope to enjoy. I hope I can fight again for the podium and to win some races. After that, we’ll see where we are in the Championship ranking.
Q. What would a podium in the first race mean for you?
Valentino Rossi says: It would mean a lot to me. Trying to be on the podium again and fight to win some races has been my target since I signed with Yamaha, last year.