For many MotoGP fans, Valentino Rossi’s move back to Yamaha is a welcomed escape from the career-ruining Ducati Desmosedici. The perception, of course, is that the 1,000cc Yamaha is not terribly different from the 800cc-era machine, and therefore Rossi’s return to the tuning-fork brand should mean an instant return to his success and his alien status alike.
When we have these thoughts, we forget that in 2009 Rossi struggled to keep teammate Jorge Lorenzo at bay on the same machine, and that in 2010, right before his leg injury, Rossi was behind Lorenzo in the Championship points (despite a wall being erected in the Yamaha garage). Add in two long years at Ducati Corse, the death of Marco Simoncelli, and a new-generation of GP racers who are just now discovering their full potential, and there is ample reason to believe why Rossi’s return to Yamaha in 2013 will not look like his first venture with the Japanese company, nine years ago.
I suspect the move to Yamaha will be a culture shock for the legion of Rossi’s fans, who during Rossi’s switch to Ducati thought The Doctor’s skills on two-wheels, both on and off the track, could shape the Italian machine into a more tolerable form. The reality of course is that motorcycles are not developed overnight, and for Rossi to be competitive in 2004, changes in Yamaha had to occur far earlier than the signing of the pen to Rossi’s contract.
Big thanks to Jim Race from MotoPOD for tipping us off to these photos!