New BBC F1 presenter Suzi Perry feels Valentino Rossi left Yamaha for the wrong reasons - and hopes he can now make a winning return and 'stick two fingers' at those in the sport 'he propped up' who wrote him off at Ducati.
Perry fronted the BBC's motorcycle racing coverage for 13 years, starting with WSBK before the corporation switched its emphasis to MotoGP from 2003.
She stepped down at the end of 2009 - when Rossi won his seventh and most recent MotoGP title - to concentrate on her mainstream TV work.
Rossi left Yamaha at the end of 2010. The Italian megastar recorded just three podiums during two troubled years on the Desmosedici, but has been back in contention during pre-season testing ahead of his Yamaha return.
Perry is also making a comeback in 2013 - to live motorsport at the BBC, having been chosen to take over from Jake Humphrey as presenter of the company's highly-rated F1 coverage.
Speaking exclusively to Crash.net
during Wednesday's London press launch for the BBC's 2013 F1 coverage, Perry's continued enthusiasm for MotoGP was clear. “I'm so excited about this year in MotoGP,” Perry began. “Rossi should never have left Yamaha in the first place. Easy to say now, but I think I said that at the time.
“He gave me the ['it's me or Lorenzo'] interview at the end of the 2009 season
and it made headlines across the globe, although not many in Britain took notice. He shouldn't have gone to Ducati really. I felt it was a bit of an ego driven move, with what was going on with Jorge [Lorenzo, team-mate], which wasn't the right reason.
“I'm glad to see him back with Yamaha. I feel as though he has almost wasted two years in a way. I think we could see him back on the top step of the podium this year. That would be great, because so many people have written him off. I just want him to come back and stick two fingers up at those people!
“For so many years he propped up that sport [MotoGP]. He was the hook that they hung their coat on and I'm really surprised that so many journalists switched quite quickly off to him. I was quite shocked by that.
“From his point of view - and from his team's point of view as well, his mechanics that have been with him all the way - I really hope they do well this year.
“I think Jorge is the man to beat, but we'll see.”
Perry continued: “On the British side, Cal's been terrific. An absolute revelation in the sport. So fingers crossed for him and we've got Bradley [Smith] and Michael [Laverty] arriving. It's going to be good.
“The last few years of MotoGP have been a little bit flat. There have obviously been spikes of brilliance and genius from different riders, and different races have provided the entertainment.
“But not as much - I hate to say it - as probably the year I left. It seemed to sort of flatten after that. Nothing to do with me! I think this year will be great. I know a lot of guys in F1 watch MotoGP so I'll be in there during the breaks to see how it's going.
“I won't try and predict the world champion, but I will predict it'll be the best season in the last few years. I also think it'll take until the first three races to see who is really going to shine.”
Despite her variety of television roles, Perry said nothing had matched the excitement of live motorsport.
“I'm relieved to get back into motorsport. I had 13 wonderful years with bikes - Superbikes, Speedway, MotoGP - and I really did love every minute of it. It kept me feeling alive,” he said.
“The last three years felt as if I've been a bit dormant, looking back. Pre-recorded television is great, but it's not broadcasting live or live sport. And my passion is live motorsport. Two wheels or four.”
Perry will work alongside the likes of former F1 star David Coulthard and ex-F1 team owner Eddie Jordan at the BBC this year.