Yamaha Factory Racing's Valentino Rossi made a detour on his way home from the recent test in Austin, Texas, and flew to South America as a guest of Yamaha Motor Brazil.
The seven time MotoGP Champion, returning to Yamaha after two winless seasons at Ducati, impressed employees of Yamaha Brazil in Sao Paulo on Friday, dressed in a one-off Brazilian football shirt with the number '46'.
Rossi went on to star in a photo-shoot to launch the new Factor 125cc bike before attending a press conference for the Brazilian media.
Saturday morning then saw the Italian take a helicopter ride from downtown Sao Paulo to the Città Velo circuit where he rode the latest R1 with a group of 300 local Yamaha dealers and customers.
Brazil has been absent from the MotoGP calendar since 2004, but Rossi has happy memories, having won the Rio Grand Prix six times in all classes.
“It's a great pleasure to be back in Brazil after so many years. I still have good memories of the GPs I rode here,” he said. “Brazilians are really special and their passion and enthusiasm is contagious! They also managed to make me dance Samba in public!
“I was happy to take the occasion of the test in Austin to come here to promote Yamaha and the new Factor 125cc, which YMDB is betting a lot on to give a further push to their business. I am really looking forward to coming here again soon, hopefully for a MotoGP race!
“Brazilians deserve a race here, as their passion for MotoGP is without equal!
“Now I will just have time to drink a coffee at home and then I will be heading to Jerez for the final winter test. The test in Austin was bitter-sweet for us and I am looking forward to testing in Jerez to confirm the positives we have found so far and to try to improve in the areas where we are still struggling.”
Shigeo Hayakawa, president of Yamaha Motor do Brazil, also hopes to see MotoGP return in the near future.
“Brazil is now in its second stage of its motorcycle culture and our sales will be positively affected by Valentino's visit. I hope that Valentino will open further that business-door for Yamaha,” he said.
“I truly hope that MotoGP will come to Brazil because Brazilian fans and media are so fanatic for the Championship! And I hope to see Valentino and Yamaha Factory Racing here again very soon!”
Rossi and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo will until their new race colours at Jerez on March 22, before the start of the final official pre-season test the following day.