Furusawa: "Valentino Is A Very Special Rider For Yamaha"

After winning his 7th MotoGP World Championship, his 9th world title in total, and his 4th for Yamaha, Yamaha's bosses were naturally effusive in their praise for Valentino Rossi. At a press conference after the race, which featured Yamaha Racing's Managing Director Lin Jarvis alongside Yamaha's MotoGP project leader Masao Furusawa, the pair heaped praise on the Italian. "Bringing Valentino over to Yamaha has been the best thing we've ever done perhaps in Yamaha's racing history," Jarvis told reporters. "It was a great decision and together we make a great team."

Both men had a difficult balance to strike, however. Rossi's 9th World Championship was rightly celebrated, and both Jarvis and Furusawa gave him the plaudits he deserved, but both men also had to be careful not to tread too heavily on Jorge Lorenzo's toes. Jarvis alluded to Yamaha's strength in depth, telling reporters that "having two riders competing for the championship is quite stressful for everybody concerned. He praised the attitude of both Rossi and Lorenzo at achieving the title, saying "I think the behaviour and maturity of the two riders has been really special."

But both Jarvis and Furusawa acknowledged the special place Rossi still holds within the team, and emphasized that they want to keep Rossi inside Yamaha for as long as possible. "I don’t think I can convince Valentino to continue racing (after 2010), but I’ll certainly do my best to make sure he’s on a Yamaha if he does," Jarvis said, while Masao Furusawa was even clearer. "My goal in MotoGP is winning with Valentino, and maybe one day Valentino will stop in MotoGP, but I’d like to ask him to complete his MotoGP career with Yamaha," Furusawa said.

A day later, MCN's Matthew Birt reported that Yamaha are trying to sign Rossi to a lifetime deal, to keep hold of Rossi's peerless marketing clout even after the Italian has retired. Just like Giacomo Agostini's role with Yamaha and the legendary Kevin Schwantz' role with Suzuki, Yamaha are keen to have Rossi help sell their bikes once the Italian has moved on to pastures new.

Yamaha's dilemma was illustrated by both a comment Masao Furusawa made, and the response from Jorge Lorenzo's manager Marcos Hirsch. Speaking about Rossi's place with Yamaha, Furusawa told the press conference "Valentino is a very, very important rider for Yamaha, and also Jorge is, but especially Valentino." On Wednesday, Hirsch hit back in the Spanish press, telling the leading Spanish sports daily AS.com "I find it hard to believe that Furusawa said that, as he hasn't said them to me. That is something he can do next year, when we discuss Lorenzo's contract renewal."

Hirsch's thinly-veiled threat is a reference to the prolonged and difficult negotiations that preceded Lorenzo's contract extension for the 2010 season. "This year, in Donington, [Furusawa] cleared up some statements he made at Laguna Seca," Hirsch told AS.com. But Lorenzo's manager also pinpointed the problem facing Yamaha quite clearly: "[Furusawa] made it clear that he knows that they have a problem. Lorenzo is the future for Yamaha, but they have been overtaken by the future."

The statements by both Yamaha and Marcos Hirsch are the very first shots in a long war of attrition likely to be fought over the 2011 contracts. Yamaha faces an impossible balancing act: keeping hold of the man who has sold and will continue to sell thousands upon thousands of Yamaha motorcycles without losing the man likely to replace him. In the end, they will almost certainly be forced to choose between one or the other. Valentino Rossi has already proved that he is a candidate for the greatest motorcycle rider of all time, while Jorge Lorenzo has some way to go to achieve that, despite showing every sign of being capable of it. It's going to be a very long and very ugly Silly Season for 2011, and the absurd thing is that it's already started.

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Nice article, I agree it seems absurd that the silly season for 2011 has begun before we even close out 2010! I'll have more to say on this tomorrow on my site.



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If the Elbow Messiah does well then Yamaha will have more leverage against Lorenzo. I think Lorenzo is great but I can't stand contract posturing and complaining of equal equipment. He could really damage his reputation and turn Biaggi if he is known as the person who pushed Rossi out of Yamaha. I don't think that will happen, but even if he tries I believe his stock will drop. It's better for him to deal quietly and take his giant bag for money elsewhere than end up the villain. I'd really like to see another top rider at Ducati to see the 'Bike v. Boomerang' argument settled.

That Ben Spies will do very well, but keep in mind he is riding a satellite bike, i do hope Lorenzo goes somewhere else, i'd like to see him and his manager trying to ride and be competitive on a Ducati.

If indeed Yamaha does have the best bike (due mainly to Rossi and Burgess making it so) it really would be foolish for Lorenzo to jump to another bike. I agree that just because everyone says the Ducati is hard to ride don't make it so, but why risk your career to find out? I think Lorenzo got damn fair treatment this year and he lost the title because of mistakes *he* made, not team Yamaha. He's not going to beat Valentino by going to another manufacturer, he's only going to beat him by avoiding DNFs on equal equipment. period. Isn't this obvious!? I think Lorenzo is smart enough to figure this out, but maybe I'm wrong.

"He's not going to beat Valentino by going to another manufacturer, he's only going to beat him by avoiding DNFs on equal equipment. period. Isn't this obvious!?"

To answer your question; it's not so obvious to me!

I think the ducati might be a better choice. When stoner is healthy he doesnt seem to have any issues beating the yamahas. Ducati could use a top tier rider.

Hayden? - he rode around in 10th on the honda too.
Loris? - has he gone faster on the suzuki?
Marco? - he gave up after a very short time. Surly not the bike for Him anyway.
Elias? - Goes about as fast on the 'factory' honda as he did on the second ducati.

I would love to see Lorenzo on the red bike. The bike that has placed 2nd, 1st, 1st the last 3 races with a rider who did not even sit on the bike for almost 2 months. I think it might be his best move to be the champ...except for the Casey Stoner element :)

Even going to Honda might be a better option then trying to beat Rossi on his own bike. Though honda seems to have lost their mind a few years ago with no cure in sight.

"Hayden? - he rode around in 10th on the honda too.
Loris? - has he gone faster on the suzuki?
Marco? - he gave up after a very short time. Surly not the bike for Him anyway.
Elias? - Goes about as fast on the 'factory' honda as he did on the second ducati.

Hayden - averaged between 5th and 6th on the Honda including his rookie year. He never rode around in 10th.

Did anyone expect the Suzuki to beat the Ducati? More to the point, we are talking about he 800cc Ducati not he 990.

Melandri cannot just be written off. If he can ride the Hayate to better results than the factory-supported Ducati, you have to wonder.

"[Yamaha] have a problem. Lorenzo is the future for Yamaha, but they have been overtaken by the future."

Lorenzo's manager is delusional. Rossi is not going to allow "the future" to overtake him. Talk like that will only encourage Rossi to stick around and beat George for more years to come.

Did Lorenzo win the tittle? Ahhh No, Vale did, i hope Yamaha reminds that to Jorge's manager at contract time...FernandoARG

Money is an issue, equal treatment??? He will never get the same equipment, I like the way Rossi came out to say he was bothered by Yamaha by the way they handled Lorenzo's contract, its all an act if you ask me, he was asked to make public statements about it just to shut Jorge up, I dont think Yamaha would compromise what they accomplished with Rossi. The Ducati has always been a wild horse, extremely effective if only you get to control it, but fail to do so and there you have a problem. Everybody has had a hard time getting used to riding that bike.

Rossi won’t be riding forever. His eventual retirement is inevitable. Which means at some point Yamaha will need a replacement. But for Lorenzo to demand equal treatment is ridiculous. Lorenzo is a spectacular rider but Rossi is Rossi. Whether you are his biggest fan or not, the man is arguably the greatest rider ever. There may be records like Ago's number of titles that are probably out of reach, but that was a different time. The competition these days is far more fierce. And Rossi consistently rises to the top. Lorenzo should show some respect. You can demand Rossi money and attention when you have proved year after year after year that you deserve it. I like Lorenzo. I'm a fan of his riding. But the fact that Yamaha have to walk on egg shells while congratulating the rider who gave them everything they have now, in order to not offend the new spoiled little brat makes my stomach turn.

I like Lorenzo tons but he has just not proven himself to nearly the extent Rossi has. I think he is going to establish himself as a shit-talker if he isn't careful. He is for sure a brilliant rider but until he wins a few titles and helps develop the best bike on the grid, he is not Rossi's equal in the larger scope of things.
Yamaha would be total morons to lose Rossi at this stage. He will sell more bikes by orders of magnitude than Lorenzo will. He could be a huge sales tool for them for decades.

I've been thinking about what Lorenzo's manager said about Furusawa "having to repeat that at contract time" i would love to see what goes on in those secret meetings, no? Anyway i think to compare Jorge to Rossi we are wasting our time, we would have to wait at least 8 consecutive years of Lorenzo winning, Rossi has one more year of contract, i see one or two more out of him, then after that the young spaniard is young no more, then what, Rossi has won his First Premier tittle at the age of 21, if im right? Make the math and see that the results are not on anybody's favor...

The silly season over the next 12 months is going to be great, with the best riders all up for grabs. I am not sure the other manufacturers would want Yamaha's problem.
I think that if Lorenzo stays with Yamaha beyond next year, Rossi will leave. Similarly, Lorenzo won't want to live in Rossi's shadow for several more years. One of them will have to go. I think Rossi will struggle to resist going to Ducati at some point.
I also feel that despite what he says, Stoner will be very annoyed at the true or not figures that Ducati supposedly offered Lorenzo and will probably leave them next year. He will try hard to win the title to better to prove a point. I think he has started working towards that since his comeback. His riding has been inspired. But will he go to Yamaha or Honda ? Honda has to be hurting and will surely hit back hard with a special effort soon. Unless something special happens, I can't see Dovi survive with them after next year.

If the top of Yamaha racing is so blatantly relying on one particular rider and his team, it is easy to expect they go downhill once he leaves.

I think that Lorenzo´s problem in the future will be called SPIES.....if he does OK next season.
About Ducati, i guess that even Rossi understands that with all the "young bullits" comming to Motogp, every year will be harder to be nº 1......well thinking again......he is ROSSI!!!!!!!
But and i think that´s them main question : will he´s chief mechanic Burges go to Ducati??? Rossi will/can not go to ducati without him.

Hirsch started as Lorenzo's trainer, but his role has changed now that Dani Amatriain has been pushed aside. Hirsch is Lorenzo's trainer, advisor, confidant and manager now as well. The management role he plays is more as an advisor than an old-school manager, but he has a big role to play in negotiations with potential employers. 

Two comments:

1. "Bringing Valentino over to Yamaha has been the best thing we've ever done perhaps in Yamaha's racing history," Jarvis told reporters.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when a certain Mr. Roberts reads that.

2. Micheal Jordan is still selling shoes for Nike, and it's been years since he retired. Again. Rossi could do at least the same for Yamaha, and they know it. There's no way they let him go willingly. In the end, though, it's up to him.

Well, he did say "perhaps"...

Rossi essentially brought them back from oblivion (i.e: also rans). He ended a 12 year championship drought for Yamaha on a bike that clearly was NOT the class of the field.

Yamaha had won a championship in '75 with Agostini before Roberts got there in '78 and turned the world on it head.

Which is more important for Yamaha? It's debatable, but not an outrageous statement by Jarvis.

Nah, I wasn't saying Roberts was more important to Yamaha than Rossi. I'd just like to be there when Kenny read the comment. I love it when people who know how to curse get angry.

Rossi turned them into champions. Again. And, just as the last hamburger I ate was the best one I ever tasted, this last era of Yamaha domination (yeah, yeah, maybe a bit strong) is the best they've ever been.

I'll bet that, as long as he's having fun, Rossi will make sure they stay champions.

SPEED should do a Roberts family reality show.

The first episode would be golfing with him and Jordan. Two guys who know what perfection is, playing a game that even the best can't completely master.