My dream was beating Honda, even before I joined Yamaha. One of the dreams came true - I beat Honda in racing - but I did not beat Honda with production bike [sales]. I transferred MotoGP M1 technology to R1, but the R1 is not as successful. Still it has good sales in the 1000cc class, but we need to do something more and I have run out of time.
So 50 percent of my dream came true. It's not so bad. I've enjoyed it a lot and now is the time to move on.
How much direct involvement have you had with the design of this year's M1?
I rather like to step back and look, but sometimes I'll come in and suggest something if I think it's needed. Then I just fade away, like old soldiers! Now the bike looks pretty good. If something happens maybe I will come back, but very limited time because I will be so busy with my own projects.
I still like engineering very much. On my business card I put 'Executive Officer and Engineer'. I always downgrade, because a couple of years ago I was a 'Chief Engineer' and now it just says 'Engineer'!
Nearly all of my hobbies involve some engineering.
I think you have a Mazda car that you've kept for a long time and use for your experiments?
The MX Miata. It is 18 years old. I've changed it a lot: Reinforcement to increase the rigidly and I put a performance damper into the car body to create a damping force. This is an idea from Yamaha Motors because all of the automotive companies just increase the rigidity of the chassis, but sometimes we need a damping force.
Now I increase the stiffness and
the damping force. My Miata is fantastic. Only one problem: The torsional stiffness [twist] because it is an open-top. This is the last thing I have to fix, but I've been too busy!
My Miata has almost no mileage, less than my rental car. I also have three cars and two bikes and no time to use them.
Will the Miata be the first of your personal projects after you stop?
Yes. First job is the Miata. I have to fix 'scuttle shake' [chassis vibration typical in convertibles]. Then I'm thinking of purchasing some reasonably-priced accelerometers, putting them on the Miata, acquire data into the PC and doing nodal analysis.
I was a professional analyst of vibrations back in the 1980s. I developed nodal analysis software and it was sold to automotive companies worldwide. It was pretty good business. Then I used the tools I had already developed to analyse my own car.
The next job after that is a bike. This is my baby. A RD250LC from back in 1981. I still have some problems with it. The last Christmas card I drew showed this bike doing a stoppie! And then another bike has some heating problems. Pretty shabby design for the cooling system. Sometimes it is overcooled in winter and overheats in summer. I'd like to fix that.
Do you ever look for commercial opportunities when you come up with improvements?
No. It's just for my own enjoyment. And bragging: 'My bike is better!'
I am also a painter and cartoon artist and I want to spend more time doing 3D solid-model sculptures, with computer graphics, as well as making actual wooden sculptures. At the same time I would like to enjoy skiing and snowmobiling. I have a lot of things to do.
I have enjoyed my life and I want to continue enjoying it in the future.
In terms of MotoGP's future, what will be important, technically, in the new 1000cc class?
In 2012, with the strong regulations that are coming, we will have to focus on fuel efficiency. That will be the big thing with the one-litre bikes and be the main difference from the 2006 [990cc] bikes. So for the electronic control system we have lots of things to do. That will be the key.
Otherwise a bike is a bike - always two-wheels, one chassis, one engine.