I thought maybe five years would be the longest for me here. But I did a big mistake in 2006 and 2007 and Valentino was so upset.
Was that when you kind of stepped away from racing?
Yeah, yeah. Stepped aside. Valentino was so
upset. He wanted me back at the race track. So I decided to come back and I've stayed since.
You know, I was really an amateur about racing before 2003. I had never seen a race! Before I was always changing my job in Yamaha Motors, because sometimes there was trouble in the company and they would move me around to wherever they needed me.
So you were a troubleshooter?
Yes! I have a nickname of 'Sophisticated Troubleshooter' or 'Fixer'! It's been lots of fun for me and I've enjoyed it a lot.
Life is short. My stepfather passed away when he was 75 and this month I will be 60 years old. My birthday is actually one day after Valentino Rossi's, on February 17th.
So maybe I have 15 years before I die. I have lots of hobbies, but with racing I have no time to enjoy them. So now is the time to stop my career.
On the 24th of March is the date when we agreed to stop. Some of the guys were against me stopping, but I said 'I've done enough!' Then I'll have one year as an advisor for Yamaha, but an advisor is not a busy guy.
So after seven years, racing will soon become another hobby for me. I'm attending the next MotoGP test at Sepang and also Qatar. And right after the Qatar test I will be back in Japan.
I will watch the race in Qatar on the TV or the internet, while drinking a beer!
That will be the first time I can enjoy MotoGP as a fan, with no responsibility. Also this year will be very competitive - Casey Stoner at Honda, Valentino Rossi at Ducati and Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha.
Last year was kind of boring. Yamaha was too strong. That was good for me of course, because I was strongly involved in the Yamaha MotoGP project. But this year I will just be an adviser at Yamaha.
Is that specifically as an advisor for MotoGP?
It can be anything, but it will mainly be for racing.