Yamaha Racing didn’t want to resign Valentino Rossi, but were persuaded into it by the Yamaha Marketing department.
When the rumours first appeared in early Summer the possibility of Rossi re-joining Yamaha alongside Lorenzo appeared as likely as Casey Stoner cancelling his retirement plans to go back to Ducati, it was almost unthinkable.
During their first stint together Lorenzo and Rossi weren’t the best of friends, to put it politely, and once Lorenzo signed a contract extension it appeared that was Rossi’s chance of a Yamaha return firmly over, and in the eyes of the racing department it was.
But in a interview with Spanish magazine SoloMoto former Yamaha Racing engineer Masao Furusawa opened the lid on just how the negations went down.
“Given the doubts of the racing department, the marketing and communication of Yamaha became the greatest champion of Valentino’s return,” said Furusawa.
It seems strange that a marketing department would have the power to decide what riders a racing team should have, but then Rossi is no normal rider.
Having the trump card in the market Jorge Lorenzo re-sign after a hard approach from Honda, Yamaha were well and truly in the box seat to dictate the market.
It was no secret that Yamaha wanted to keep Ben Spies for 2013 despite the wretched year the Texan was having, but once Ben announced he would be leaving (whether he was pushed from within we will never know) Yamaha were on the search for a new factory rider.
Yamaha Racing were looking at promoting within with both Tech3 riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow being considered, they also had an eye on Moto2 star Pol Espargaro with the rookie rule lifted.
But Yamaha’s marketing team had other ideas and pictured the dream team again that was together from 2008-2010. The World Champion to be, and the Greatest Of All Time.
Whilst we still don’t know what went on behind the closed doors of Yamaha we can safely say that with Lorenzo’s status and new contract, and with Rossi desperate to end his Ducati nightmare, Yamaha held the negation power over the Doctor.
The marketing department will have also been fully aware of the sponsorship appeal, and the money that the GOAT brings.
Despite running 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo over the past two
seasons the factory Yamaha team haven’t been able to attract a title sponsor. The agreement with prior sponsor Fiat expired as Rossi left the Japanese manufacturer and there hasn’t been a suitor since.
Regardless of results, morale or reputation of Rossi, that is one thing that the 46 will bring next year, and with a title sponsor the team can expect more R&D, better brand exposure and everything else a title sponsor brings.
With Rossi so desperate to get back on a bike which gives him chances of winning races again Yamaha could also dictate terms over wages.
One of the reasons behind the departure of Rossi at the end of the 2010 season was that Yamaha had cut Rossi’s pay, and given it to Lorenzo.
With “his” money going to Lorenzo and Yamaha electing the Spaniard after Rossi issued the ultimatum saw the Doctor head to Ducati, but with Rossi desperate to come back, it was now the factory with the power.
Whilst Furusawa has revealed it was the marketing departments decision, nobody can argue that it will invariably improve the results of the Racing Team, it will give the fans and the sport a lift, with the giant, that is Valentino Rossi back at the front of races.
In the same interview Furusawa also had a little message for the Doctor upon his Yamaha return, “Yamaha motorcycles are a closed chapter for me, but if Yamaha, or Valentino, need me…”