Masao Furusawa, who oversaw the technical transformation of Yamaha's MotoGP project during Valentino Rossi's time at the team, has confirmed that he was recently “asked to help Ducati”.
Furusawa was put in charge of Yamaha's struggling MotoGP project in 2003, when the M1 took just a single podium. Furusawa went on to celebrate four MotoGP riders' titles with Rossi, plus a fifth for Jorge Lorenzo by the time he retired at the end of 2010, when Rossi moved to Ducati.
The Italian team's contact with Furusawa appears to have been one final effort to try and convince Rossi to stay for 2013. Rossi, who has rarely been comfortable with the handling of the Ducati, is widely expected to return to Yamaha next year with an official announcement imminent.
Japanese reporter Akira Nishimura interviewed Furusawa following his 'secret' visit to Ducati and gave the following information on Twitter (@akiranishimura):
"Furusawa admitted his trip to Italy was the invitation from D [Ducati] and he was asked to help them.
"Furusawa: Preziosi said to me "I just want to make our bike better. It doesn't matter if I lose my position." He has real Samurai spirit!
"Furusawa won't be back to the paddock. "I prefer quiet life. That's why I moved to Kyoto from Iwata"."
When asked specifically why Furusawa had declined to help Ducati, Nishimura replied: "To be frank, his code of ethics" - a reference to Japanese corporate loyalty.
For more on Furusawa, CLICK HERE
for an extensive interview conducted just before he retired, in which Furusawa reflects on his time in MotoGP - and gives his thoughts on Rossi's move to Ducati...