MotoGP: Valentino Rossi to Yamaha – For Reals this Time

08/07/2012 @ 11:51 am, by David Emmett51 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Valentino Rossi to Yamaha   For Reals this Time Valentino Rossi Ducati Laguna Seca 635x423

It is a bit of a risk, announcing that Valentino Rossi will be switching to Yamaha just a couple of days after getting caught out by a hacked Twitter and email account. This time, though, confirmation is coming from multiple sourcesincluding our own. Rossi will be leaving Ducati for Yamaha at the end of this season, with an official press release expected from Yamaha on the morning of August 15th, the Italian national holiday of Ferragosto, and the day before the paddock assembles at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

According to the Italian media, the decision was taken a few days after the US GP at Laguna Seca, a race which was typical of Rossi’s experience with the Ducati: slow during practice, unable to make progress during qualifying leaving him to start from 10th, and topped off with a crash at the top of the Corkscrew. Rossi crashed on lap 30, losing the front while braking and still almost upright. Unable to get any heat into the tire, the front tire looked almost new, despite having nearly the full race distance on it.

Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio had flown especially to the US to present an offer to Rossi and convince him of the sweeping changes that Audi will help to bring about to the racing program, and at the Sachsenring and Mugello, Rossi had spoken to senior Audi executives about their plans for MotoGP. Ducati had even gone so far as to try to persuade Masao Furusawa, the former leader of Yamaha’s M1 MotoGP project, to come to Ducati to help fix the bike.

Furusawa declined, as respected Japanese journalist Akira Nishimura reported on his Twitter page this morning after interviewing the former Yamaha man. Furusawa’s reasons were deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and the strong bond between company and employee, even after the employment contract is terminated: it would not be right for a former employee to betray the company he worked for, and that was a step too far for Furusawa. The Japanese engineer revealed just how far Ducati were prepared to go to get help, telling Nishimura that Preziosi had said “I just want to make our bike better. It doesn’t matter if I lose my position.”

The Furusawa gambit was probably Ducati’s last chance at getting Rossi to stay, and when it failed, Rossi made uip his mind. The only thing that Rossi wanted was a competitive bike for the beginning of the 2013 season. When Preziosi acknowledged he could not provide that, Rossi’s decision was clear. At the age of 33, Rossi understands that he does not have many more seasons left in MotoGP. He cannot afford to wait for Ducati to build a competitive bike. If he wants to start challenging for podiums and wins again – and more importantly, start enjoying racing again, finding the pleasure in racing that gives him the energy to make it through the long slog of testing and training – then he needs to be on competitive machinery. The Yamaha is competitive now; the Ducati is clearly no such thing.

Rossi’s departure from Ducati is a defeat for both parties, as a curious retraction from the Italian magazine Motociclismo’s website makes plain. Motociclismo published quotes from Ducati PR Manager Francesco Rapisarda, acknowledging that Rossi would leave Ducati. The story with quotes was then removed from the website – though picked up by the eagle-eyed, who also saved a copy of the quotes as a screenshot – and Rapisarda denied to GPOne that he had made those statements, while editorial staff at Motociclismo told GPOne that it was ‘a misunderstanding’.

Whether a Ducati spokesperson said those words or not, the underlying truth remains. Rossi left Honda for Yamaha to demonstrate that the rider was more important than the bike. His return to Yamaha from Ducati demonstrates that this is only true up to a point. There is a basic level of performance that is needed from the bike for a rider such as Rossi to be able to perform.

But the move – indeed, the threat of a Rossi departure – has already had a massive effect on Ducati. The Corse department are scheduled to hold a major meeting this week, to discuss their R&D strategy and plan for the rest of the season. Rossi’s leaving will have a major impact on the testing schedule, and cause Ducati to rethink their R&D efforts.

Though help from Audi will not be direct, they may be able to help in speeding up redesign and production of new parts, with new parts feeding into the process more quickly. Ducati may find themselves in a quandary: having a man widely acknowledged as one of the best and most sensitive development riders under contract, but unwilling to give away too much of their future development direction.

There is still one fly in the ointment for the Rossi-to-Yamaha story: Though Rossi will be taking a massive pay cut to return to Yamaha, and leaving most of his entourage behind (only his ‘Australian’ crew are expected to follow him, the group consisting of Jeremy Burgess, Alex Briggs, Bernard Ansiau, Brent Stephens and Matteo Flamigni) the factory is still without a title sponsor for the second year running.

Rossi is expected to bring a sponsor with him, and though the appeal of the Italian is undiminished – his name is far, far bigger than the sport, a risk to the future of the series itself once he retires – the pen has not yet been put to paper. Once that hurdle has been cleared, then the deal can be announced officially.

We realize that after being tricked by a hacked Twitter and email account, our credibility has suffered when it comes to Rossi’s move to Yamaha. The Twitter and email messages about Rossi visiting Yamaha’s HQ in Amsterdam may have been faked. But as many people pointed out, Rossi does not need to fly to Amsterdam to sign a contract with Yamaha. Just because he wasn’t at Schiphol-Rijk, it doesn’t mean that Rossi hasn’t signed for Yamaha.

Photo: Ducati Corse

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.


  1. ted smart says:

    Until i see Vale in Yammy leathers I won’t believe it.

  2. I feel the same way about gravity.

  3. Ken C. says:

    The neon-yellow always looked better on blue anyway. ;)

  4. Keet says:

    Awesome, does that mean Nicky is the lead rider now?! :)

  5. Damo says:

    Hayden is going to be alot more important to Ducati pretty soon.

  6. Damo says:


    Can we talk about how awesome WSBK Race 1 was at Silverstone yet?

  7. AC says:


    Can we talk about how awesome most WSBK races are? ;)

  8. Keith says:

    @Damo, sure but let’s not mention that it was almost as big a crash fest as a certain oval based racing format.

  9. Cpt.Slow says:

    WSBK = zenith of the sport. Yea I said it and I have held both series as equals- but 2011 and on, no question, gp is 2nd string.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Oh FFS! Is motorcycle racing really so boring that this is all that anyone can write about?

    Good Grief! Pull your typing fingers out of your bottoms and craft something worth reading.

  11. John says:

    Finally! Now we can get on with racing. Rossi gave Ducati a fair shake. When I saw his crash at Laguna, however, it was clear to me that Ducati has a long, long way to go. Now, if we could just dump those stupid CRT bikes……

  12. Damn it, gotta take the #46 off my 1098. J/K.

  13. mechelaar says:

    If Ducati needs a development rider, I’m sure CE II would be happy to get off that pis that is the CRT’s… ;-)

  14. MtgR says:

    I’m not sure it’s much of a risk reporting this move. With Rossi pushing back on signing for Ducati as long as he had, while getting the results he was, it was pretty clear that marriage was over. The only question was the indentity of “the other girl.”
    Once Spies uncharacteristc preemptive f-you email came out it was a safe bet Yamaha was cleaning house to make room for the “Rossi Entourage” the same way Ductai did when he left the tuning forks a couple years ago. (and throwing out the baby with the bath water a la Spies same as Ducati did with Stoner).

    I guess it’s a sad fact of life, the girl winking at you from across the room always seems more interesting than the one you’re with.

    The only confusing part is why Yamaha was flirting with a balding middle-ager she already tuned, forked, and dumped once before anyway. Must be wearing those Rossi colored glasses while tripping down memory lane.

  15. JW says:

    I miss the days of many manufactures in Moto gp, now its a 2 manufacture race.

    You never know, Hayden with the Audi promise may get great results in 2013.

  16. David says:

    @MtgR…I LOl’ed at this……”The only confusing part is why Yamaha was flirting with a balding middle-ager she already tuned, forked, and dumped once before anyway. Must be wearing those Rossi colored glasses while tripping down memory lane.”

    I’m guessing the reason Yamaha wants a forked and dumped, balding middle-ager is because of the money he brings to the table. Rossi is buying his way into Yamaha I bet.

    OH, BTW…..I heard from a friend that his friends friend saw Rossi at Walmart in Indy. Evidently Walmart is Rossi’s new sponsor! A&R has my permission to use that news flash for a story if they want to. J/K

    And another thing…..WSBK will never equal MotoGp until a WSBK rider can come to MotoGp and win the Championship, not visa versa.

  17. sburns2421 says:

    I really wanted Rossi to do well on the Ducati, but the past two years have been nothing short of a disaster. But I have always been a Ducati fan first anf Rossi fan second. I would find it hilarious if Ducati were able to throw away the current design and build a very compeititve bike for 2013. I would take some satisfaction in seeing Nicky win a few more races, especially if it denied Rossi the victory.

  18. OH NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Run to the hills… The superb-awesome GOAT will come back to the most beefed-up bike and will win all the 2013 races, and set lap records and win more titles, and be more beautiful, and more….

    I think the Rossi fans now will live in a world with unicorns and rainbows.

    PS. Where’s MikeD on this topic hahahha

  19. AC says:

    @sburns2421 Agreed. Especially after Rossi wearing that stupid “let’s stick together” helmet at Mugello.

  20. Micahel says:

    I love how people compare WSBK to MotoGP. You do realize that they are different right? Are your critical thinking skill impaired?

    This comparison would be the same to comparing Touring Cars to Formula 1. They both have 4 wheels and a driver!?

    One is production based, where the bikes are generally speaking cheap, and similar, not hard to make different companies machines competitive.

    The other is a PROTOTYPE SERIES. Where the difference between the best bike and the worst can come down to mere millimeters. Sometimes one company just gets everything perfect. And just like with formula 1, your have to admire the technology, and the pilots. Sometimes the most beautiful thing about the sport is watching 1 man on the most technologically advanced machine lay down ridiculous lap times. Its not all about passing all the time.

    Are no-hitter baseball games boring because you dont see homeruns with every at bat?? Of course not!

    There is room for both series in this world.

    About Vale, nay-sayers gunna nay-say. All I know is that I am happy about this because we have the opportunity to watch the greatest motorcycle racer ever back fighting on a bike that can do something better than 5th. (and maybe he wont, he is old now, but thats ok too) You can like other riders as I do too, but just feel fortunate to be alive in a time where you witnessed the greatest rider ever.

  21. Spektre76 says:

    Casey must have the biggest sarcastic “I told you so” grin on his face right now. And Ducati must have the biggest clown frown! XD

  22. Greg says:

    Cal to Ducati???

  23. Reports are saying Rossi wont be making his announcement till next week.

  24. Steve Lang says:

    Good. Glad to hear this.

  25. Westward says:

    Now that thats all settled…

    Ducati can sign Spies…

    The question now is, who will be the pair that take on factory spec bikes under the Pramac banner. Maybe Crutchlow and Redding. For Cal, if won’t be a factory team, but it will be a factory bike…

    Tech 3 can now be Dovizioso and Smith…

  26. Westward says:

    2013 will be a repeat of 2009, Rossi vs Lorenzo, with the same outcome. The podium will consist of Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, with the occasional appearance by Dovi…

    I will bet Yamaha ends up with a three man rostrum at least at two circuits next season, or maybe three. That is, as long as Dovi is on a Yamaha…

  27. johnjenin says:

    so, there will be a Marlboro Yamaha Racing Team again???very classic…its been long time not to see the Red livery on yamaha..

  28. SuperD says:

    Dovi on Ducati.
    Spies in SBK.
    Iannone in Pramac.
    Smith in Marc VDS Moto GP.
    Crutchlow big fat question mark.
    Barbera big fat question mark (good rider).

  29. Beary says:

    Hmmm, who will get the Red Terror, Redding has been testing, Cal wants it.

    Rossi can still only hope to be an also-ran amogst the likes of Lorenzo, Pedrosa, not to mention next year Marquez, an upped-perfromance Bradl, grand-dad is going to be doing it very tough. Gawd if Casey was still around, Rossi could consider himself very fortunate to put the M1 on the podium at all in 2013/14.

    I’m still very happy to see him back on a bike that isn’t a POS, but sorry GOAT fans, but it’s clear he aint, and he’s proved to himself the inverse theory that the rider is NOT more important than the bike.

  30. dc4go says:

    See yeah…. personally I like Rossi but that partnership was going no where!! Really don’t see Dovi or Cal being good on the Duc. Like to see Spies on it but afraid his MotoGp bags are already packed. Casey please come back to Ducati!! Please……….

  31. ADU says:

    Its going to be a tough year for Rossi, I would love to see him on a Yamaha, its good for the sport. Hopefully Cal will move to Ducati and Audi will pump in the money and make it a good bike, the sport needs good manufacturers racing for the top slot. Hope to see Suzuki also back soon.

    Honda will all out to spoil Rossi and Lorenzo, both Danny and Marc will fly, and so will Bradl get a full HRC support. Also Gresini Honda will chip in, so its going to be a great season,,, Rossi Please sign for Yamaha….

  32. Halfie30 says:

    @ Beary: somewhat did Stoner prove on the Hk da last year after struggling on the Ducati? Rossi proved a bad bike is a bad bike. Will he “dominate” on the Yami…? Nope, but he will prove even with his age he is still the slowest “Alien”.

  33. Halfie30 says:

    *so what


    I hate auto correct…

  34. Westward says:

    Rossi was never the slowest Alien, Pedrosa was… His shoulder is 100% and his leg is mended. My only concern for Rossi going to Yamaha is, without Furusawa in charge, I don’t think Rossi will get equal treatment to Lornezo. Lorenzo will be the priority in all situations, and Rossi will just have to be that much better to over come the slight technical differences…

    I mean could you imagine the outcry if Lorenzo’s rear suspension and swing-arm just collapsed on the corkscrew like it did for Spies…

  35. Beary says:

    Hasn’t Rossi already said he wouldn’t mind being #2 at Yamaha, and that he understood that the reason they chose Lorenzo over him was that ‘Yamaha had to do the right thing for Yamaha’ ? Surely words of someone already with a foot in that door.

    I don’t think Pedrosa is ‘the slowest Alien’ at all, I think he has grown as a rider since 2010 when Rossi left Yamaha, sure he sin’t winning a lot of races, but he has pulled a lot of seconds and thirds, and is staying injury free, touch wood. He is sitting pretty nicely @2nd in the championship, and that will give him all the more confidence.

  36. Beary says:

    @Halfie30 What did Stoner prove last year ? I think after being the only rider that could win on Preziosi’s mistake of a MotoGP bike, he didn’t have anything to prove at all. He sat on a great bike and trounced everyone. Stoner ‘struggled’ on the Ducati ? Compared to everyone else who has thrown a leg over it, Stoner absolutely shone on it.

  37. 'bout time says:


    Once the option came up for this, I could never see Rossi not going. I don’t see the moolah being the biggest issue, its simply whether he can cope with being stuck in the middle going nowhere. The advancements haven’t come and his career is starting to close.

    Also, for the sake of ‘The Show’ Dorna must have said something, they need him up front. Racing against Redding (please) and Cal.

    Perhaps Ducati are waiting for the CRTs to take over, then they’ll be slow (fast) enough to beat ;-)

  38. Neil says:

    I would be surprised if Spies goes to Ducati, I don’t see two Americans on an Italian team. Spies is quite fed up right now I’m sure, he may not race anywhere… I think Crutchlow, Dovi, Barbera or Redding would be the choices.
    Rossi going to Yamaha will happen, but who will be the sponsor???

  39. Adam says:

    well, before he left Yamaha he still managed to win a race and battle Lorenzo (Japan I think) after he came back from his broken leg. I don’t blame the guy, this happens in every sport the top guys want a top team to win (or manufacture in this case). with Casey gone I think he will be a strong second at Yamaha, and I think he will still have a leg on Pedrosa the only unknown will be Marc and how fast he will be from the start. But once all the contracts are signed the question will be answered in Qatar, so we will have to wait…..

  40. Xavier says:

    Rossi never actually fit in Ducati. He seemed unconfortable even when at interviews or presentations at shows, his famous smile with a hint of fakeness. I don’t blame him in any way: he wants to win, and that desire and drive had made him one of the best riders in history…
    But I can’t stop felling somehow sad about the whole story, since I really wanted him to win with the most iconic Ducati. In my opinion he could have waited at least one year, with Audi (VW) providing huge support, technology and resources just around the corner. He might have started to win races, who knows, and only future will tell the outcome. But on the other hand, nothing guarantees you are going to win races at once, and his pace may be the result of a combination of a poor bike and aging superskills, and the gamble may end up in a win for Nick Hayden. Let’s wait and see…

  41. Westward says:

    @ Xavier

    I understand exactly how you feel…

    @ Adam

    Not only did Rossi beat Lorenzo, knocking him off the podium in Japan 2010, but he also won at Sepang…

    @ Beary

    Pedrosa makes the rostrum only because he is really the only other pilot on a factory machine. Put Crutchlow, Bradl, Dovi, Barbera or even Edwards on factory Honda’s and Yamaha, and I don’t think Pedrosa looks nearly as impressive…

    After all, are we all not talking about Rossi on a competitive machine changes the landscape…

  42. John says:

    While Stoner did win a championship on the Ducati it was before the spec tire rule. Even the present Ducati might see a big improvement if it wore shoes tailored to suit its needs. Rossi may not have anymore championships in him, but I want to see him able to go full out before he retires.

  43. RGR says:

    Your credibility is just fine. Don’t listen to all the dumb axes who get butt hurt over a simple mistake that was obviously very easy to make. I’ll be glad to see Rossi on a competitive machine, no matter the brand.

  44. Paulo says:

    Hey Rockey……watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat….. AAAAGAIN?!

  45. MikeD says:

    @Rossi: Good for the guy. He was obviously struggling at Duc with no chance of improvement.

    Bold signs that SHIT is just PLAIN WRONG at and inside Ducati:

    ~~~~~Ducati had even gone so far as to try to persuade Masao Furusawa, the former leader of Yamaha’s M1 MotoGP project, to come to Ducati to help fix the bike.

    Furusawa declined, as respected Japanese journalist Akira Nishimura reported on his Twitter page this morning after interviewing the former Yamaha man. Furusawa’s reasons were deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and the strong bond between company and employee, even after the employment contract is terminated: it would not be right for a former employee to betray the company he worked for, and that was a step too far for Furusawa. The Japanese engineer revealed just how far Ducati were prepared to go to get help, telling Nishimura that Preziosi had said ”I just want to make our bike better. It doesn’t matter if I lose my position.”~~~~~~


    Who will be the next ” Sacrifice ” on the Ducati Altar ?
    I pity the FOOL…hope to be wong for his sorry sake.

    @Spektre76: Amen Bro…all the Stoner critics must be hiding under their rocks, as they should.

    @FredSantos: Hey, if it makes them happy anf jolly….let them be….i personally cannot wait for the year’s end and see if all this silly season GOSSIP DIE, lately all we are being FED (by all blogs and publications) is Rossi this, Rossi that, Rainbows will thrive followed by Unicorns playing on Yamaha Pianos…….

    Im ready to start hearing some news about new models for 2013 !!! \(^_^)/ YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS ! Screw this whole GP drama, i ain’t no GP Pilot nor Rossi’s Minion and follower.

    @Damo, AC, Capt.Slow: YUP, WSBK is the shiznit right now…personally i have been following more SuperStock1000…just because it’s much closer to the stuff sitting in the show-room…not to mention they are racing the Panigales already in it.

    sburns2421 says: I would find it hilarious if Ducati were able to throw away the current design and build a very compeititve bike for 2013. I would take some satisfaction in seeing Nicky win a few more races, especially if it denied Rossi the victory.

    I guess we’ll have to sit and wait, Pop Corn anyone ? Hope the German “infection”, sorry, meant injection will be only for the better…for Ducati’s and the sport’s sake, i hope so.
    Wouldn’t that be SO IRONIC ? “The Sun” left and then “the little guy” gets handed a newer better toy(fingers crossed) and becomes Ducati’s new “Darling” and Bread Winner ?

  46. Pat Walker says:

    In 2010 lorenzo (yam) beat rossi (yam) by 150 points.
    rossi is nowhere near as fast on the duc as Stoner was.
    With Stoner retiring rossi moves back up to being the second fastest Moto GP rider.

  47. Westward says:

    @ Pat Walker

    Lorenzo won by 150 only because, Rossi was not there for four straight races. I seriously doubt, that he would have had that big a margin or a margin at all, if Rossi were actually participating in those races…

    Still on the mend that season, Rossi bumped Lorenzo off the podium at Motegi, and won the race at Sepang. Lorenzo is the champion of attrition, with both Rossi and Pedrosa out of multiple races due to injury, and Stoner due to gravel…

    logically, he was suppose to win, given the circumstances…

    I won a traffic dispute and did not have to pay the fine. I don’t know the outcome would have been the same if the officer had made an appearance…

    Same difference, only Lorenzo won a title…

  48. yellowcard says:

    every westward post is pure comedy, thanks. almost not worth the effort but —–

    Lorenzo was the fastest Yamaha rider the year he won the title, Thats indisputable. Towards the end of the season Lorenzo only did what he had to do to take the title, and that is finish without risk.

    Thats the problem with SOME Rossi fans, they lack credibility and objectivity.

    To your shoulder excuse: the holly shoulder that was supposed to be the reason he lost the title and was also reported by VR himself was with 1 second per lap on the Ducati the following year. guess what ,, That mysterious 1 second never materialized,, or is it your contention that the holly should is still injured? VR lost that title because he past is prime, nothing else. And next year, he will be 3 years past his prime, hardly a threat to win on a regular basis.

    To your other famous post: there is no conspiracy about Jorge getting a better bike next year. In the real world in which the rest of us live, those bikes will be identical done to every bolt. You don’t need to be stacking excuses on why VR won’t be winning races… lets grow up a bit. VR will be in the thick of it next year, but if Stoner were still playing, VR’s visit to the podium would be rare indeed as he is probably not as fast as Dani/Honda. So if he wins, don’t forget the asterisk as Im sure you added for 2006.

  49. MikeD says:

    As per these guys:

    Suposedly tomorrow at 9.00am(Italy’s time ?) Ducati will anounce the divorce first and then Yamaha comes in to steal the Groom…lol.

    Google Translator is your friend.

  50. Pat Walker says:

    Lorenzo won by 150 only because, Rossi was not there for four straight races.

    The reason rossi missed 4 race is because he crashed riding over his head trying to
    keep up with lorenzo.

  51. clunk says:

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    Keep burning rubber all.