It is being widely reported today that the much expected return of Valentino Rossi to Yamaha will be announced soon.
Former Yamaha 500cc racer Niall McKenzie commented on a “famous Italian” visiting the Yamaha factory in Amsterdam on his twitter account and when contacted by Thomas Baujard, of Moto Journal, the Scotsman confirmed that it was Rossi that he sighted.
Rossi, a nine times world champion, has suffered through two ignominious seasons aboard the Ducati, during which time he has claimed just two podiums, and will clearly relish the chance to ride the YZR-M1 again. Having initially joined Yamaha in 2004 Rossi went on to claim four MotoGP titles and 46 race wins.
His successes at Yamaha seemed to put him within touching distance of breaking Giacomo Agosini’s record number of race victories but his time at Ducati has seemed to put paid to any such aspirations.
Speculation linking Rossi with a return to the Japanese manufacturer has been growing in recent weeks with the recent race at Mugello having seen the rumours spread like wildfire but it has been clear that the manufacturer had to ensure that Jorge Lorenzo was satisfied with the situation.
Throughout the season Lorenzo has been asked for his opinion on racing with Rossi once again and from the Spanish Grand Prix he has been unwavering in his public sentiment. The championship leader has consistently said publicly that he would be happy with Valentino returning to the team but even so Lin Jarvis was keen to ensure that his number one rider was satisfied with Rossi returning.
With crowd numbers exceptionally low at the Italian Grand Prix and falling revenues in the sport-where the likes of Yamaha have no title sponsor-the series organisers, Dorna, have viewed getting Rossi back on a competitive bike was crucial for the immediate future of the sport.
The news cannot have come soon enough with Casey Stoner retiring at the end of the season the sport needs Rossi to be on a competitive bike and a return to Yamaha was the only viable solution. Reigniting the intra team rivalry of Rossi and Lorenzo will be key to improving the spectacle of the sport in the next two years.
The majority of reports relating to Rossi have said he will be offered a two year contract with the possibility of leading Yamaha’s World Superbike squad in the future. The factory withdrew from WSBK at the end of last season having cited falling sales in the sports bike market in recent years but they would surely be reinvigorated by Rossi riding for the manufacturer.
When asked by Motorcycle News about his feelings on returning to Yamaha Rossi said:
“My feeling has changed a lot because the situation has changed. I had some problems in the past with Jorge, especially because I was angry with Yamaha. After all I did for Yamaha they put in the team a very strong team-mate so I was p****d off with Yamaha more than him. Now it is a different situation and I understand that Yamaha made the right choice for Yamaha. This is not a big problem.”
When Nicky Hayden was confirmed for another two seasons at Ducati it was always likely that the manufacturer had done this so as to offer some continuity in the event of Rossi leaving the team. It is now expected that Cal Crutchlow will replace Rossi as the second factory Ducati rider.
In addition to this it has been reported by Motomatters.com that Ducati will look to offer a factory bike to their satellite teams in 2013 in a bid to ensure a more competitive motorcycle with Scott Redding almost certain to ride one of the bikes once it is confirmed that Marc VDS can raise the necessary funds for a season in the premier class.