Talking to journalists for the first time since the announcements that he would be leaving Ducati and joining Yamaha, Valentino Rossi provided some interesting insights today at the Indianapolis GP pre-even press conference, which showed his reasoning for the switch in teams, as well as how Rossi views his future in MotoGP. Perhaps the most interesting remark from The Doctor was his own questioning of his alien status, saying that he no longer knew whether he was a top rider in the sport.
Beyond the opportunity to question Rossi over his decision to move back to Yamaha, there was ample build-up, by both fans and journalists. The build-up of course pertained to seeing Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi in the same room with each other, as highly critical statements by Stoner were made this week in the media over Rossi’s tenure at Ducati. Putting the kibosh on the expected fight between the two riders, Stoner made it clear that the article in question was a composite of statements he has said in the press over the pass one and a half years, and that he made none of those statements in the past week.
Another interesting point included Rossi conceding that rival Jorge Lorenzo would be the #1 rider in the factory Yamaha team, though Lorenzo admitted later in the press conference that the distinction carried little weight when it came to parts and development, as Yamaha supplied riders equally within the team. Unwilling to talk money figures with his contract, Rossi would also not speculate on whether he and Lorenzo would share the same livery, i.e. sponsors, for next season.
With the atmosphere in the room palpable, Rossi fans will be interested in hearing The Doctor talk about his career with new uncertainty, and dwell on the possibility that the best of his motorcycle racing years might be behind him. A selected portion of the press conference transcript is after the jump.
MODERATOR: …Valentino, you kept your promise. You said at Laguna you would tell us what was going to happen. We’ve read all the announcements, and you will be joining a new team next season.
VALENTINO ROSSI: Yes. After Laguna and the summer break, I have 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.
MODERATOR: Eight races to go with Ducati, and I’m sure, as always, you will be there with it.
ROSSI: Yes, are very important because unfortunately we have to speak about the next year very early in the season. But we still have eight races. And now is an important moment because first, this track for me, is always — I was able to win in 2008, but it is a difficult track for me. Last year was very bad. So we have to keep the concentration of me with my team and try to make the maximum.
And after is an important period because Brno is a good track, and after Brno we will have some important tests in Misano, and we have to try to improve the bike to improve our pace for the rest of the races because, anyway, eight races is a long way.
MODERATOR: And you rejoined Jorge next year, which will be interesting, I would imagine.
ROSSI: 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.
Q: Vale, you said you would put everything in a balance and you would make a decision. Which has been the reasons have made you decide for Yamaha?
ROSSI: 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.
ROSSI: So I think my crew come with me. More or less the same guys that come with me from Yamaha to Ducati. But is still not decided 100 percent. I think we have to fix some of the ties.
And about my future will 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.
Q: Do you still believe that you could get a world title or will you be happy to just win some races next year?
ROSSI: For sure, the world title is a dream. 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.
Q: Did you ask to keep a wall between you –
ROSSI: No, no, nothing. We will be very close with Jorge if he agrees. (Laughter) For me, no problem.
LORENZO: No problem, no problem.
Q: Valentino, Casey has said this week, described a humbling experience for you. Has this been humbling, this a disappointing time –
STONER: I want to clarify that. That was a lot of context taken out. It was the whole last year and a half. I never did interview and never said anything like that last week. I still stand by what I said, but it’s been over the last year and a half that it was put together.
Q: OK. So has this been a humbling experience for you?
ROSSI: I don’t know what’s been humbling? (Confusion over the translation of the word) Oh, I cannot say no. I mean, you can use which word you prefer. I mean it was very, very difficult, is very difficult. It’s not true that we don’t try, we try the maximum. But we were never able to be — I was never able to be fast with the Ducati, and this is a great, great pity, a very bad thing, especially for me and for my team.
Q: Jorge, you said that you have no possibility to choose your teammate. But do you have any priority in the technical development of the bike for the future or you will — you have to fight on track to get this leadership?
LORENZO: To be honest, I really think if I negotiate in the contract, if I say not to sign some rider, I will have him. But anyway, I never cared about my teammate, I will not care in the future. For me it is a pleasure to be again with Valentino, two more years with the same bike. So for me, everything is positive.
Q: Also, for the technical point of view?
LORENZO: Yamaha never have No. 1 rider given the best performance bike or the best pieces, no. So it will never be different, I think.
Q: Casey, are you surprised that Valentino decided to go back to Yamaha?
STONER: No. I think, you know, after two years like this it must be difficult, must be a little bit embarrassing. He needs to understand if he’s competitive again. So going with a bike that he knows he was last fast with and maybe the only opportunity for a different manufacturer on a factory bike. So I think, you know, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next year. But, no, not — it’s not a strange decision after two seasons like this; it’s got to be difficult. So it’s better to try and be competitive again on something which you know he’s competitive.
Q: Vale, you tell us before that now Jorge is the main Yamaha rider and do you think you are going to be able, do you hope you are going to be at his level now? After these two years yourself, do you think watching them on the track that the Yamaha could give you what you missed on the Ducati and to be faster just from the right moment?
ROSSI: This is a good question. So looking in the track now is not enough, the Yamaha, because the difference is so big. No, apart from the joke, I mean in the last seasons, Jorge has become more strong than when I was with him in Yamaha — oh, in 2010 he was very strong. And he ride the M1 at an incredible level without do any mistake. So for me it’s a question mark for me, I don’t know.
And also because, you know, in the last seasons I think mainly three riders make the difference, him and Dani and Stoner. I was with them until 2010, so I consider — I was considering a top rider.
But after these two seasons, no, I don’t know. So I have to try another time the bike. After the last race, but after I have to work very much on me and together with my team for go at the maximum and try to understand my level now with the M1.
Q: Valentino, again talking about money. The rumor says that you will carry a lot of money to Yamaha. Can you confirm or not? And then you also someone says could be two different, separate teams with different color. Also this could be an option?
ROSSI: These are just bullshit. 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.
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.
Q: Jorge, has another energetic drink?
ROSSI: Yeah, yeah, this is possible. But seriously, I don’t know because my contract is closed. It’s no difference for me if arrive with sponsor or I have to bring some sponsor. This is not true.
MODERATOR: OK, just one more and that’s it. This will be the last one. Thank you.
Q: Once again for you, Valentino. Over these two years, how have they changed yourself, not as a rider but as a man?
ROSSI: I don’t know. A lot of people say that in the difficult moment, in the bad moment people become stronger, so I hope. Because I, for sure, was very difficult from the beginning. So is long time that I am here to fight, unfortunately not to win, but I enjoy to ride, and unfortunately we are not able to create the perfect match between me and Ducati. And this has become very, very difficult. Also because for sure all the other guys are very strong.
But for about me, myself, for me it doesn’t change a lot.
Source: IMS; Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved