Masao Furusawa: Rossi, Ducati and retirement

In a follow-up to the previous feature on Masao Furusawa (see separate story), Hyacintha Bonafacia spoke to the Yamaha MotoGP boss about Valentino Rossi's decision to join Ducati, Furusawa's own retirement and more...
Rossi, Edwards, Lorenzo, Furusawa, French MotoGP Race 2008
Rossi, Edwards, Lorenzo, Furusawa, French MotoGP Race 2008
© Gold and Goose

One of the reasons for Valentino Rossi's decision to leave Yamaha for Ducati at the end of this season is Masao Furusawa's retirement.

Rossi said he feared what will become of Yamaha's MotoGP project without Furusawa, in charge since 2003, while Furusawa - who won't severe his Yamaha ties completely - admits he had wanted Rossi to retire with him at the end of the year.

"I will not leave Yamaha, but stay as an adviser," Furusawa told the Koran Jakarta newspaper, Indonesia.

"I wanted Valentino to retire with me and be an ambassador of Yamaha. I missed his position of ambassador with me.

"I have a lot of things to do outside of MotoGP. Life is not so long," he added.

Furusawa and Rossi have won 45 MotoGP races and four world championship together since 2004. The Japanese and Italian spoke closely about the future.

"Valentino and I discussed the future via email and in face-to-face conversation several times," he said. "Basically I was disappointed to accept his move but Valentino made his mind to have another challenge.

"Now I would like to support him as much as possible until the end of this season. Valentino and I have been united seven years to achieve the same goal in MotoGP.

"Now is the time to go for a next step."

Much debate has been triggered by the news that Yamaha might not allow Rossi to test for Ducati straight after the final race of the year. Furusawa commented that it is "too early to say, because of the point of view of the professional business relationship."

When asked about Rossi's chances of success at Ducati - which last won the world championship in 2007, but hasn't won a race so far this year - Furusawa responded:

"I know the advantages and disadvantages of the Ducati bike. The point is whether or not Valentino can point these out, and then [whether] Ducati can follow his recommendations."

Rossi won the first round of the season in Qatar, but was beaten by team-mate Jorge Lorenzo at the next two races before breaking his leg at round four. Rossi returned at round eight, but is yet to defeat Lorenzo, who has now won seven races.

"Yamaha has won eight races out of ten so far. This is good for Yamaha even though Valentino Rossi got injured," said Furusawa. "During the second half of the season I expect there will be a big fight between Lorenzo, Rossi, Casey Stoner, and Dani Pedrosa."

Big fight or not, Lorenzo is now 77 points ahead of Pedrosa with eight races to go and all but certain to lift the title. Furusawa claims not to be surprised by the young Spaniard's stunning form, which has seen him finish no lower than second.

"[I'm not surprised] because the statics show that Jorge won one race and Valentino won nine races in 2008, then Jorge won four races and Valentino won six races in 2009. You can easily imagine how Jorge would do in 2010.

"I guess the strongest point of Jorge is his stability and tactics for the race," he continued. "Valentino is still strong as same as the past. He has felt pain after the injury, but his performance is good and his mentality is strong."

Lorenzo should soon be confirmed as riding alongside Ben Spies in the factory Yamaha team for 2011. Spies, the reigning World Superbike champion, is the top rookie and satellite rider this season, with one podium finish.

"Ben is quite good. He is trying to learn MotoGP more and more than Superbike. This attitude could be the key for adapting to MotoGP," said Furusawa.

By Hyacintha Bonafacia

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