After eleven of the 18 rounds in the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, Fiat Yamaha's star rider Valentino Rossi
has won four races and holds a 25 point lead over Ducati's Casey Stoner.
Meanwhile, rookie team-mate Jorge Lorenzo
has already experienced the extreme highs and lows of premier-class racing, winning on just his third race start but being repeatedly injured thereafter.
Here, Masao Furusawa, executive officer of Engineering Operations for Yamaha Motor Company, answers questions on the 2008 MotoGP season to date.
Furusawa comments on both riders - describing Rossi as a genius and declaring that Lorenzo will dominate MotoGP in the future - whilst also addressing the development of the YZR-M1 and the issue of electronics in the premier-class...
What's been the biggest change to the M1 this year?
We have made many changes to the 2008 M1 compared to the 2007 version and we have improved it a lot; Valentino is satisfied with our work so far. Of course the biggest change for us has affected Valentino's side only - the change of tyre manufacturer [from Michelin to Bridgestone].
After the switch we had a hard time learning how to get the best performance from the new tyres and of course we had no data. Last however year Valentino predicted that changing would be the right thing for him and he was right, although of course we weren't able to predict how differently the tyre would behave.
What else have you changed on Valentino's bike?
We have had to work a lot on the chassis setting and we have also changed the geometry of the bike in order to get a good balance with the tyre character. Since we moved from 990cc to 800cc higher corner speed is needed in order to get faster lap times and to win.
Therefore we have tried many different chassis settings in order to find out the best of bike geometry, centre of gravity, rider position, wheel-base length, chassis stiffness and so on.
Do you think that your development since the start of the season has been a success?
MotoGP bikes are not production bikes and that's why I always say that Valentino, Jorge and all MotoGP riders are not human beings! Valentino has become more and more satisfied race by race and we have been able to find an ideal set-up for him that enabled him to win three races in a row.