Fortuna Yamaha rider Carlos Checa has publicly welcomed reigning MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi as his new team-mate for the 2004 season.

Rossi arrives at the team to replace Marco Melandri after three world championships and 33 GP victories (from 64 starts) during four year's with Honda in the premier-class.

By contrast, Checa finished the 2003 season as top Yamaha rider, but was just seventh in the point's standings - with a best result of fourth. The Spaniard has won just two premier-class races (Catalunya '96 and Jarama '98) since moving to the then 500c class in 1995.

"First of all I would like to welcome Valentino to the team and express my delight at this news," wrote Checa on his website carloscheca.com. "I have always wanted the best alongside me and I think that this is the ideal way to progress as a rider and as a team. I hope that we work well together and make the Yamaha a winning machine once more, to bring back happy times to the factory and the sponsors.

"I also think that the incorporation of the MotoGP World Champion is the clearest sign yet that Yamaha are going for everything next season and that, without doubt, will help the development of the bike and whole package on the track, allowing us to aspire to maximum achievement.

"With respect to Rossi's decision, my opinion is that World Champion has been brave, and has decided to take on a new challenge in his sporting career with the offer from Yamaha," he added. "Personally, all I can say is that I'm sure our relationship will be good, his integration will be quick and that we can be good friends."

Earlier this season, while facing increasing pressure to explain his poor results, Checa is rumoured to have stated that no-one could win on his M1 - and that if Rossi did he would 'kiss his arse'...

... We're not sure if that's true, or was exaggerated during translation, but if it is it's a great quote - and one that Carlos may regret.

 

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