This weekend, Fiat and Yamaha unsurprisingly and officially ended their four-year relationship. The first non-tobacco title sponsor in the four-stroke MotoGP category, Fiat joined up with Yamaha in 2007, when MotoGP switched to the 800cc format. Originally justifying the sponsorship as a way to reach a car-buying audience that was younger than Formula 1 fans, Fiat has always had its eye on the Italian rider. That relationship has manifested itself in Rossi testing with Ferrari on numerous occasions, and prompted the nine-time World Champion to consider kart racing after his motorcycling career is over.
After winning the MotoGP Triple Crown: The Rider, Team, and Manufacturer Championships, the factory Yamaha team finds itself in a difficult position looking for a title sponsor for next year. After Valentino Rossi’s departure to Ducati Corse for the 2011 season, Fiat, the team’s sponsor from 2007 until recently, dropped the Yamaha squad after its loss of the Italian rider (Fiat had long been associated with Yamaha because of the company’s desire to woo Rossi into the Ferrari Formula 1 team…that and the Italian helps sell the Italian made cars).
Perhaps under-appreciating the value of having Rossi on board a Yamaha bike in 2011, the tuning fork brand has now been left scrambling for a marquis name to help foot the bills for the next season. Despite having the reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Rookie of the Year Ben Spies, deals with Petronas, Telefonica, and AirAsia have failed to materialize, despite lengthy rumor, meaning Yamaha’s corporate Blue/White livery might be spotted in Qatar (something reserved usually for non-sponsored wild card riders).
No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.
Fiat Chairman Luca di Montezemolo has thrown some more fuel on the never-ending fires about a Valentino Rossi’s rumored switch to Formula One racing. Fiat as you might remember is the title sponsor of the factory Yamaha MotoGP team, and also the parent company to Ferrari. In what he calls a “great idea”, di Montezemolo made it clear that he would like to see the seven-time World Champion driving for Corse Rosa.
In conjunction with the unveiling of the 2010 Fiat-Yamaha MotoGP team, a series of interviews with Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and Lin Jarvis have been released for public consumption. Despite being released from the team’s PR firm, with cooperation from Fiat, the questions strike at the heart of many the issues that surround the Lorenzo/Rossi battle for supremacy. They’re quite long, but worth a watch, check them out after the jump.
Even more trouble is brewing in Yamaha camp. First Jorge Lorenzo tossed some grenades over the wall in his garage at Valentino Rossi, and now James Toseland has gone off and stolen Colin Edwards’ crew chief. Hold on it’s going to be bumpy ride, read more after the jump.
Jorge Lorenzo has gone on the record that he doesn’t like the idea of the wall that divided the two Yamaha riders in 2008 will continue to stand in the 2009 season. Read more for clever responses by Valentino, and off-the-cuff Cold War references by myself.
We don’t care if it’s because of changing tastes and trends, or if the naked/standard motorcycle is the industry’s attempt to tempt drivers away from their 4-wheeled cages, but these are the hot bikes of 2009. While this Abarth Assetto Corse FZ1 is merely just a show bike to help commemorate 100 years of Fiat sport-tuning, it’s choosing comes days after the release of the Ducati Streetfighter debut (and new Monster style launch), as well as KTM’s Super Duke R recoloring, just to name a few. Pictures and more after the jump.