Rectification: Rossi At Yamaha Story A Hoax From A Hacked Twitter Account

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.

Back to top


Are we certain the twitter account was hacked? Everyone could see this tweet as one of the replies:

"Hi Tom Baujard here from Moto Journal. How do you know that ? Please send me a mail : thanks"

So the initial tweet isn't necessary involved with the email from the person pretending to by Niall Mackenzie. Also, the tweet was made with a 'HTC Peep', something real tweets have come from before.

My theory is the tweet is real, and doesn't necessarily mean anything official has been signed, but someone else saw the email address and then played a prank.

Thanks for clarifying, and also for the details of the hoax. So now we return to where we were yesterday... waiting for news of the 2013 rider line-up. I'm a Ducati guy, and want to see Ducati get it right and do well. But despite that, I found myself excited by the "news" that Rossi had decided to return to Yamaha. So at least the hoax had the benefit of clarifying my emotions about what I'd like to see next year.

Despite this slip, Motomatters is the best MotoGP site on the net. We appreciate your sense of what good journalism is about. This deal does not change that. We don't expect perfection.

Like Lew's earlier post, I was wondering.

I did NOT suspect false information, but I DID wonder how one went from seeing a guy at reception with a big smile, to 'The Deal Is Done.'

I like the way everyone assumed he was at the Yamaha factory signing the new contract. Maybe he was there in person to say "thanks but no thanks" - as I hope he does. If he leaves Ducati for Yamaha then he is a quitter in my eyes. Id prefer to see him go straight to WSBK now and have another tussle with Max Biaggi

Myself I was finding it hard to understand how Niall MacKenzie being at Yamaha HQ to get their assistance with a racing deal would then fire off a story like this into the public domain.

Wouldn't exactly endear him to Yamaha was my thinking.

As difficult as it may be (to keep it hushed up) I'm sure that if Rossi signs for Yamaha their PR machine have got it all planned out for how they officially announce it, anyone upsetting that applecart wouldn't have a racing deal with Yamaha for much longer!

I feel sorry for you David, since I know you will not take this lightly. But every regular MotoMatters visitor knows you are a very thorough investigator and things like this can always happen. I would not worry too much about your reputation.

We all get things wrong, or fall for a hoax, from time to time.

Your explanation of how this came to pass only reinforces your reputation as a reporter with integrity.

Well, we'll just have to wait a little longer....

I took that story too, but way you posted that doesnt hurt trust to this website. Anyway, Vale still would be there, I guess...:)

If Rossi does in fact stay at Ducati, will MCN publish a retraction of their current headline? No of course not. That is difference between a fish & chip wrapper and a quality web journalist.

David, the ability to put your hands up and say "whoops, my bad" speaks volumes.

Usually i would just stay in the background and follow your articles as i always do, but seeing as you feel you have let yourself and the fans down, I have to speak up and say; no not at all. That you even felt it necessary to do so speaks volumes for this site and your reputation. As a fan of football, i can tell you that this kind of thing happens on a weekly basis at the very least. False sightings at airports, fake accounts claiming to be linked to the party somehow, pranks etc. Unfortunately it would have crept into motorsport sooner or later, with twitter one of the main culprits. We learn and we move on. What it has done is allowed everyone to gauge what kind of response Rossi would get if he left Ducati.

It's like waiting for the starters pistol at the olympics 100m final for this story to break..and Emmett just got red carded for a false start, blinded by the scoop.

Gutter press?..surely not here, home of the broad sheet reading real fan?

I just hope some of the high-browed sanctimonius regulars remember this, when inclined to look down noses from lofty pearches in ivory towers, before they scoff at other fans from apparently less salubrious sites.

Credit the editors honesty but, the damage has been done.

To er is human, to take responsibility is divine. I can safely state that my appreciation for Kropotnik is undiminished.

Like LewTheShoe, I find that this incident clarified my view on the whole shebang:

Returning to Yammy would not be the end of the world, but if I had my druthers Rossi would finish his career with Ducati, with his head held high. Ducati should either win regularly (whatever it takes technically) or lose with honour (CRT).

re: "Ducati should either win regularly (whatever it takes technically) or lose with honour (CRT)."

or option 3. press the "eject button" on grandprix and keep audi cash in reserve for WSBK and future product development.

Dont sweat it David, this is still far and away the best motorcycle news website. For someone like me, its a go-to multiple times per day. Keep up the good work.

The fact is that when major U.S. print newspapers, and the New York Times is notorious for this, although it also happens on TV, make an error, they publish a retraction, without context, days later, in the very back in a location that is sometimes an effort to locate. Often these retractions completely change the meaning of the story, and they happen with enough frequency to ensure that a good percentage of the reportage is garbage.

David, here, on the other hand, put in big, bold type the full context of the original story, the source of the error etc. etc. - giving the reader a full understanding of the picture.

If major news organizations had the same ethical standards, we'd have a much better view of the world at large than we do today. Very well done indeed.

A nearly perfect analogue to this, btw, is the old forged "memo" that Dan Rather tried to push off on everyone a few years back - you might recall the details...the reaction of CBS vs. MotoMatters pretty well demonstrates who's more qualified to run a credible news organization...

Has anyone verified the news in Spanish magazine Solo Moto about the Furusawa/Preziosi meeting last week?
the article states that Furusawa was being asked to collaborate with Ducati as an external consultant on frame design.
They suggest that this would be a single project and would run from now until the end of the year only as Mr. Furusawa
has other project committments in 2013 mainly related to aeronautics. Apparently Furusawa asked for a week to decide
which is the sane timeframe as Rossi asked for his decision to continue or leave Ducati.The whole story seems a little odd and
a bit of a Rossiphile's dream to me, but Solo Moto were also the first to break the news on Stoner retiring...

You would not believe how often this happens in the world of journalism (I did 20 years in daily, weekly and wire reporting, stack of awards, etc.) You find "three independent sources" for information and ask each of them, "Where did you get that info?" and they all lead back to the same person or source. People who know how the game is played can game the the players.

David did due diligence here, and sometimes you get burned in this business.

If it happened to these guys, it can happen to anyone:

Hacking Twitter accounts can get you serious jail time.

I doubt the account was hacked, personally. Niall is just doing some back pedaling. American Congressman Anthony Wiener claimed his account was "hacked" when he got busted posting pics of his wiener, ironically.

Hacking Twitter accounts can get you serious jail time.

I doubt the account was hacked, personally. Niall is just doing some back pedaling. American Congressman Anthony Wiener claimed his account was "hacked" when he got busted posting pics of his wiener, ironically.

As ever we can speculate and get led up the garden path now and again. One thing I've learned over the years :
Don't comment on any signing until such signing is formally announced by the team in question at said team's official press conference with said signee in tow.

if rossi WERE at yamaha HQ signing on the dotted and niall HAD seen 'em and there and leaked it, would this be a revelation...?

at this point, is there a single person on the planet who's gonna say, "rossi going back to yamaha...? WOW, i didn't see that one coming"...?

with grandprix's downward slide, it's not like his option cup "runneth over". what, he's going to sign with kawasaki...? suzuki...? god forbid those options get scuttled by conjecture.

As every article could be an opportunity to showcase, "Stoner's mercurial talent". Else we may forget how he single-handedly carried a desmocedici on his back and raced on foot to win races.

Hurray to that. I love how some people have this new, twisted view of 2007, where the Ducati was trash, had zero advantages, the bridgestones sucked etc. Yes Casey rode great that year, yes he was talented, but to act like the Ducati/Bridgestone combination wasn't a huge part of the equation is fantasy.

The Ducati, with Bridgestone tires, was the best bike package in 2007. You had to understand how to ride it, as it was different, but it was the best. Capirossi did have a win, 2 seconds, and a Third. Barros had a 3rd on the satellite. The bike was capable. The problems started when Honda and Yamaha caught up (and got their own bridgestones).

You say Capirossi had one win.. that win was a wet/dry race where Loris simply gambled at the right time. In a full dry race he'd have been nowhere as was usual that year. But not usual at all for Capirossi who had been a multiple race winner and potential title contender the previous year but was a distant 7th overall in 2007 despite being on a supposedly 'superior package'. And he was in fact the next best 'superior package' Ducati on Bridgestones! Both the runner up and third in the title ran Michelins, and had Stoner not been at Ducati there would have been no praise for either the bike or the tyres in 2007. Suppo has admitted Ducati know the extent to which Stoner carried them to that title, and all the subsequent success they had. It was never simply a case of 'knowing how to ride' the Ducati as several former world champions including now Rossi came to realise. So Mr Yello13 I think you're peddling the fantasy around here.

But I wouldn't detract from the CS talent. I just think the repetition that Ducati success was 100% rider is like saying the RC211V had little impact on Rossi's titles from 2002 and 2003. In 2007 we witnessed a synergy of talent, technological preparation and emergence of new dominant tire product. I believe this and his marriage created a perfect storm of confidence and mental stability that lasted until it didn't and he went into hiding for a half a season. He came back after regrouping, but still wasn't the same. That was until he stepped onto the most technologically dominant bike that Honda had built in almost 10 years. Now he's quitting. His biggest challenge will be this next half of a season. Can he claw back an beat Lorenzo on his way out the door. We'll see if he's good enough.

David posts a sincere apology about a jounalistic error and you grab the opportunity to spit some bile about a couple of words you don't like.

Edit: make that a couple of words that are not even in this article.

I go with the general concensus. Yamaha and Rossi will confirm it sooner rather than later. Red leg vs yellow leg revisited next year within the Yamaha Factory camp.
I will be delighted should it be made official. Much anticipation.

Nice to see all these supportive comments for David and his site and his team. Here is a great idea for all who think Motomatters is a great site...

I'm one who posted yesterday that the Niall Mackenzie tweet did not pass the "smell test" and I am very supportive of David and his high journalism standards. So I just took a moment to become a site subscriber. You should consider doing the same, so that we can continue to receive the web's best racing site!

-Lewis Dawson

No need to apologise David, these things happen.

An amusing prank by the Frenchman, hope he doesn't get prosecuted for hacking.

It's a done deal, Rossi to Yamaha!
The real shame is, Rossi's 'ON-TRACK' antics aren't as news-worthy!
BTW, Haven't we been here before, Honda to Yamaha! At least he was coming off a winning bike then, which gave the illusion of greatness. Now it's all a bit tragic, in the pursuit of regaining the winning ways!
I also find it highly amusing that Rossi has told Ducati, I'll think about your (rumoured) €17 million a year deal, over the summer hols!!!
Don't you just love people with Charisma............ not!

As I was reading over the hack story and comments that followed, it made me think that if there's one thing everybody wants to see it's Rossi back in the fight, even if Lorenzo proves his better (the Rossi haters can jump up and down with joy). It's good for the sport, good for ratings, hell he's the only rider that by his sheer presents one the grid, but better on the podium, the other riders get paid more. Ratings are up, Dorna makes more money, paychecks go up. When Lance Armstrong left the tour, ratings dropped. When Tiger Woods went into hiding, PGA ratings dropped. Rossi being fucked at the back with the CRT bikes (unless it rains) is a shitty deal for everyone.

I agree but it would be such a good story if Rossi could win on the Ducati. It'd be better myth-making than a return to Yamaha. He died at Ducati but rose again in his third year. It would be legendary. But even if Audi really can turn Ducati around it might take too long. Personally I'd like to see him stick with Ducati but I certainly wouldn't fault him for returning to Yamaha.

re: "But even if Audi really can turn Ducati around it might take too long."

it sure as hell ain't gonna happen inside the (only) 1-year contract extension given to nicky.`

I think if Rossi is weighing his options for his last few years racing a MotoGP bike he'll have to move to Yamaha. Aprilia tried F1 technology in their Cube and failed miserably. Waiting to see what Audi brings to the table is like waiting for your electrition to fix your plumbing. I wouldn't put my R1 into the hands of my car dealer. And if it's Audi money that we're talking about then he's still screwed. Ducati had an idea, no frame. It was a bad idea. It didn't work. They spent a lot of time and money trying to make it work. Hell, then built their lead production Superbike based on that idea. Time that Yamaha and Honda spent making their aluminum framed bikes better. More money isn't going to catch them up next year. Dumping the bike they have and starting over with an in line or a reconfigured V stuffed into the frame at a new angle is the only way out of the hole they're in and Rossi doesn't have time for that. But I hear the esspresso in the Yamaha garage sucks, so there is always that.

Please don't jump on that ship David. Rossi Will end up with Yamaha. Who cares which pamphlet reports this already half-announced marriage ''first''.
From you we expect different stories. Will Preziosi remain with Ducati? Is his star dwindling? How important was Dorna's interference?
Can you eventually reconstruct the series of events that led to Rossi's withdrawal?

Think this story of the hacked account is bulls**t. And in fact today "official" channels started saying what everybody else already knew, also thanks to you David. So no apologize is required but lots of shame is from someone else.

If David would wait to get 100% info about matters like that, the we would not see new articles for a long time. He does not publish every little gossip he see online. But when he see big info, he has to go and do it. If he doesn`t then people will start to get info elsewhere. We (readers) are hungry for new info. And sometimes he has to deliver, even if not confirmed.

That is the hell of journalism. I understand that.

And I respect honest recognition of his fault.

For me that is the most important thing.

I don´t think less of you David. Just the opposite.