The story we published yesterday about Valentino Rossi having been spotted at Yamaha’s European headquarters by former racer Niall Mackenzie turns out to have been incorrect. We, along with the French publication Moto Journal and the German-language magazine Speedweek were victims of a hoax. A Frenchman, speaking perfect English, had compromised the Twitter account of Niall Mackenzie and linked his own email address to it, so that the attempts we made to verify the news led to a single, incorrect source. The person having compromised the account  later confessed to one of the journalists involved in researching the story that it had been a hoax, and apologized for the inconvenience he had caused.

Signs that the story was factually incorrect had come out earlier. Valentino Rossi’s manager Davide Brivio posted a denial on his Twitter page late last night, saying “for sure he didn’t visit Yamaha HQ – he is on holiday!”

So how did this happen? How did we fall for this hoax? The original post had come from the Twitter account actually used by Niall Mackenzie, as a wander down the timeline will verify. A follow-up check by email reached the same compromised source, and so the information being checked was being verified by the person who perpetrated the hoax. The details provided in the email conversation were convincing – the actual location of Yamaha’s European headquarters, the plans for Mackenzie’s second son Tarran to race in European Superstock 600 – but, in hindsight, easily researched.

The entire MotoGP press is convinced that Valentino Rossi will sign for Yamaha for 2013 and beyond – the British weekly MCN splashed it throughout this week’s paper, and the Italian daily La Gazzetta Dello Sport published a story laying out details of a possible deal between Yamaha and the Italian, among many, many other sources. Rossi had been expected to give Ducati an answer on whether he would be racing for them or not Other requests for verification were not received in time. “Publish and be damned,” runs a famous axiom of journalism. We published, and were damned.

Our sincere apologies to all of our readers who believed this story. We published it as we believed it to be true, and are just as surprised and disappointed that it turned out to be incorrect. We have tried to be diligent about our reporting, knowing the suspicion with which internet news sources are regarded, especially by the traditional media. Unfortunately, the months of years of trying to work diligently have been at least partly undone by an error of judgement. We hope we can win back some of the trust we have gained in the coming months, by working harder to verify our sources.

We are still convinced that Valentino Rossi will leave Ducati and join Yamaha. However, we were wrong to report that he was at Yamaha’s European HQ. We will await official confirmation of a move by the Italian. And double-check our sources.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

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

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  • JW

    Too late..

  • Shawn

    This seems to me to be a case of being eager to report what you (the motojournalist press) WANT to be true, rather than taking the time to report what IS true. It’s what I believe to be the downfall of the 24-hour instant news cycle – people are so eager to be perceived as “cutting edge” that they will rush to print (sic) with anything that has even a whiff of possible truth, in the hopes of elevating their own journalistic credibility.

    Kudos for the retraction, but as the old saying goes, “the horse is already out the gate”. You print a retraction, and then in the same breath continue to perpetuate the notion that “We are still convinced that Valentino Rossi will leave Ducati and join Yamaha”. In essence, it comes across to this reader that you’re not sorry that you’re printing wild speculation instead of fact, you’re sorry that you got CAUGHT printing wild speculation instead of fact and looked foolish for doing so.

    If you’re writing an op-ed piece, that’s one thing. However, A&R presents itself (most of the time) as a news source trying to pride itself on accuracy and quality. So how about a little less speculation masquerading as “news”, and instead a little more fact when you can actually confirm it straight from the source?

  • David

    Do you guys (the Journalist)truly think we (the Readers) actually BELIEVE everything we read………ROTFLMAO!!

  • Phil Deetlefs

    Only 2 weeks ago, the www reported that VR met with Audi and Ducati’s HH to discuss 2013 development and involvement, coupled to soft commitment. Might choose the cafe racer sectionof H4L in future…

  • Paulo

    Dude?!…..Whats mine say?…….Sweet!……Dude?…..Sweet!!……No, what’s it say??…….SWEET!!!…..DUDE????……….

    The (phoney) world just moves too quickly now.

    Oh well, it was fun while it lasted………

  • Joe

    I’m over it already. Everyone’s human and allowed to make mistakes and as far as Dave’s articles go those are few are far between. I don’t think it was wrong either to put in the bit about still thinking Rossi will leave for Yamaha. I read Dave’s articles for his opinion as much as the reporting. It’s not like I’m going to stop reading this site or any other one that occasionally reports something that isn’t true. Without these sites I wouldn’t know about 90% of what’s going on in 2 wheel world until 12 months after the fact.

    @Phil – If you’re into cafe racers you’re probably already reading H4L anyways. There’s no point in threatening not to come here anymore. Some of the stuff you find here you won’t find there and vice versa. I’m sure everyone’s posted something that wasn’t factual at some point in time.

  • If you guys (A&R) wouldn’t publish other website articles, aka.., than you wouldn’t have this problem. It would have separated you from the other trusting motogp gossip sites…

    Just my 2 cents! What do I know, I’m not a journalist.

  • Leo

    Um why the inverted photo… There’s no right turn/kink 1 at Laguna!!!!!

  • Nice spot Leo!

  • anti

    Oh, Twiter account was hacked was it….. sure whatever you say Niall.

  • MikeD

    Is cool. We all make mistakes…either way, im only here for the fun and to unplug from my daily grind, a bit of non-factual/verified information is not a deal breaker for me…it may just be what the Dr ordered after all…lol.

  • abahgiza

    but IF its true, every time rossi saw a ducati while he was on podium with Yam. he’ll cry and beg for stoner forgiveness. every spells like 80% rider 20% bike, the developer rider, “not hard enough”…is now exposed in a spotlight to be exactly not true….

  • smiler

    Like I said yesterday…..
    Interestingly because Rossi is alegedly seen by McKenzie at Yamahaha Europe, he has already signed a contract and gone? Fugiwara has been seen talking to Ducati. So presumably he will be going to Ducati and Rossi to Yamaha.

    As for him leaving Ducati. Given his comments earlier about Audi then everyone had him signed up at Ducati immediately.

    I think it is a seriously risky move for him. Lorenzo is not going to let him have No1 spot and will clearly give him a hard time. If Rossi comes 2nd or 3rd next yr he will have failed on the M1, to many.

    Many in Italy will also see it as a defection and failure to see it through.

    Deal not done and a daft move for Rossi.

  • BBQdog

    Can happen. Don’t make an elephant of it.

  • ewganhoff

    Keep calm
    And carry on making this awesome site, Jensen.

  • johnc

    merde! kill the french! ;-p

  • lawrence1


    Rossi will never be the same after running into another racers head.

  • JW

    @ Lawrence

    Your harsh statement about sic and 46 belong somewhere else and not on A & R

    Your the fan that Stoner will not miss..

  • Steve Lang

    Too bad it’s not true, it sure would have made things interesting.

  • Ryan

    @Leo, the picture is mirrored because it is now opposite of the picture in the article that is being retracted.

  • I just wanted to stop in and say that David Emmett is one the best MotoGP journalists currently in the business, and this article is reinforcement of that statement, and not a detractor from it.