Valentino Rossi has cited the impending retirement of Masao Furusawa as one of the reasons behind his decision to leave Yamaha and switch to Ducati at the end of this season.
"There were two or three important reasons," Rossi told reporters at last weekend's Brno round, where his change of team was officially confirmed.
"First, at the end of this season, Masao Furusawa retires and for me this was important.
"For the last seven years Furusawa has always been the number one at Yamaha. Without him, I don't know what will happen. I was quite worried about this."
Furusawa, who has risen to the position of Executive Officer of Engineering Operations at Yamaha, is the guiding hand behind Yamaha's YZR-M1 project - and introduced the cross plane crankshaft engine into MotoGP for Rossi's 2004 Yamaha debut.
Largely as a result of the efforts of Furusawa, Rossi, and crew chief Jerry Burgess, Rossi won from pole at his very first race for Yamaha. A further 44 wins (to date) for Rossi and four world championships have followed.
Furusawa's motorcycle has also taken 12 race wins for Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who is comfortably on target to win the 2010 world championship. That would mean five world titles, out of a possible eight, since Furusawa took over the Yamaha MotoGP project in 2003.
So who is Masao Furusawa?
The following feature was written by Hyacintha Bonafacia with close co-operation from Furusawa and published in Indonesia's Koran Jakarta
newspaper earlier this year.
The writer, newspaper and Mr Furusawa have given permission to reproduce the feature on Crash.net
In a separate follow-up story, Furusawa talks about his upcoming retirement and Valentino Rossi's decision to leave Yamaha. "I wanted Valentino to retire with me and be an ambassador for Yamaha..."
The Artist Behind Rossi's Success
His success in analyzing and synthesizing theory and reality has made him a world leader in machine development - and Masao Furusawa is also the architect of Yamaha's success with Valentino Rossi in MotoGP.