Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis has admitted that prising Valentino Rossi away from Honda six years ago was 'the best thing we've ever done' in the company's long racing history – and confessed that he hopes to be able to persuade the record-breaking MotoGP legend to remain on-board beyond the end of his current contract in 2010.
Rossi secured an incredible ninth world championship crown – and seventh in the premier class – courtesy of his third-place finish in the wet Sepang outing in Malaysia last weekend, and four of those titles have come with Yamaha, who 'The Doctor' joined back in 2004. What's more, of his 77 premier class victories, over half of them – 44 – have been achieved with the Shizuoka-based manufacturer, and that is a feat far from lost on a clearly impressed and awestruck Jarvis.
“The whole squad here was very much involved in bringing Valentino over to Yamaha,” he revealed, “and it's been the best thing we've ever done perhaps in Yamaha's racing history. Valentino now winning four titles with Yamaha is incredible, and I'm happy he's won more titles with Yamaha than any other manufacturer. It was a great decision and altogether we make a great team. My compliments to Vale, Davide [Brivio, Rossi's team manager] and the squad – they did a great job.
“I don't think I can convince Valentino to continue racing [after 2010]. That's up to him, but I'll certainly do my best to make sure he's on a Yamaha if he does. As Vale says himself, he'll make his decision in the middle of next year and hopefully he'll continue with Yamaha. He's been a great ambassador. I want to pay compliments to the whole team, because it's been tough this year and there has been quite a lot of internal competition!”
Indeed, in order to lift the laurels Rossi had to see off a sustained challenge from fellow FIAT Yamaha star Jorge Lorenzo, who triumphed at Motegi, Bugatti, Indianapolis and Estoril and even led the way early on as the Spaniard pushed his Italian team-mate throughout and arguably provided the catalyst for the Urbino native to spur himself on to new heights. Jarvis acknowledged his pride at the manner in which the pair had handled their internecine rivalry.
“Obviously, having two riders competing for the championship is quite stressful for everybody concerned,” he recognised, “and I'm really happy we arrived here – as I hoped and thought we would –without any incident, either on or off the track. I think the behaviour and maturity of the two riders has been really special, and also the teamwork of our people.”
Masao Furusawa, executive officer of engineering operations for Yamaha Motor Company, similarly revealed his admiration for Rossi and the pleasure that he had gained from working with the 30-year-old.
“Valentino always helps us, not only in the development of the bike but the setting up,” he explained. “Also, he helps me with philosophical hints! Off the track we are good friends, despite the age difference.
“Valentino is a very, very important rider for Yamaha, and also Jorge is, but especially Valentino. I have worked with him for six years and sometimes we've had sad times, like in 2006 and 2007. My goal in MotoGP is winning with Valentino, and maybe one day Valentino will stop in MotoGP, but I'd like to ask him to complete his MotoGP career with Yamaha.”