As well as holding one of the most important positions at Yamaha Motor Japan, Masao Furusawa has overseen the transformation of the factory's YZR-M1 MotoGP project, with which Valentino Rossi has enjoyed so much success since 2004.
Here, Furusawa tells Koran Jakarta
about his journey towards the top of Yamaha, plus his interests outside of racing and his family.
Although often immersed in the most technical of problems throughout his career, Furusawa's priority has always been on creating 'real world' improvements, by matching human requirements with the latest technology.
”It is the art of engineering,” said Furusawa.
Furusawa's soul is close to art. He has the ability to draw, paint and sculpture. Fishing, skiing, karate and swimming are among his other hobbies. But he has had little time to enjoy them since taking over Yamaha's MotoGP project in 2003.
Furusawa does at least get time to create his own Christmas cards. His 2009 card (click here
to view) shows a puzzled Tiger, some Italian Yamaha engineers, Rossi and Lorenzo in action, Yamaha's three 2009 MotoGP titles, plus some sketches of cars.
”The Tiger means the zodiac of 2010 and myself, wondering how come some Italian engineers left Yamaha to join Honda [at the end of last year]," explained Furusawa. "The cars drawn on the card show my personal project I did in 2009 for research on the Yamaha Performance Damper. The car drawn on the bottom-right is the Mazda Miata; my favourite car, which I have kept for over 16 years."
Furusawa's family practise art professionally.
"I am an amateur artist, but my family are professional artists," he said. "My wife is an artist of calligraphy and flower arrangement, my son is a Japanese authentic carpenter "sukiya" and my daughter is a hair artist. We are completely different, but we have respect for each other and help each other. My son is also a racer in Japanese domestic snow cross. This is the only exception. Both he and I have something to do with racing."
Furusawa was born in Kyushu, Japan, on February 17th 1951. His passion for motorcycles, and in turn engineering, began as a teenager.
”I was a crazy bike kid. Well, I am still a bike freak.... When I was a student of junior high school I purchased my first bike from my teacher," he said. "This was an illegal deal because I was only a 14-year old boy who was not allowed to get any license, but that was back in the 'good old days'!
"The bike was a Honda sports cub with a 50cc four-stroke engine. I started to study about this four-stroke engine at that time. My dream was to become a good engineer for bikes, airplanes, or cars so I majored in mechanical engineering specially for the internal combustion engine at university."