The news had been coming for a month or so, but at last it has been announced officially. Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year extension of his contract with the Movistar Yamaha team, and will race with them in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
For the past few races, Rossi had said he had been close to signing a new deal, but had a few details still to clear up. Those details had been resolved at some point between the Barcelona and Assen rounds, with Rossi’s new contract signed at Assen.
The new contract is a result of Rossi’s very strong showing this season, a major improvement over 2013. Rossi has already matched the number of podium finishes he had last season, with four 2nd places and one 3rd, though he has not yet managed to win a race, as he did in 2013.
Improved braking performance from Yamaha has helped make Rossi more competitive, as has a change in riding style. The gamble to replace Jeremy Burgess with Silvano Galbusera as crew chief has also paid off richly. Whether the improvement has come from technical improvement in setup, or a result of increased motivation from the pressure Rossi put himself under with the move remains to be seen.
With Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez now set for the two seasons, the waiting is for announcements of the second riders at both the Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha teams. Dani Pedrosa is reported to be close to renewing with Honda, with a deal likely to come either at the Sachsenring or shortly afterwards.
Negotiations with Jorge Lorenzo are taking a little longer, though it seems almost certain that he too will stay where he is. Lorenzo’s options are limited, with the only realistic alternative a seat at Ducati. That, however, is too much of a gamble for a rider chasing championships.
Source: Yamaha Racing; Photo: © 2014 Tony Goldsmith / TGF Photos – All Rights Reserved