It had been expected for weeks, but last Monday became a reality: Valentino Rossi has turned his back on Honda to lead Yamaha's MotoGP campaign in 2004 and 2005.

Since joining Honda for his debut premier-class season in 2000, Rossi has won three consecutive world championships and claimed an amazing 33 premier-class GPs from just 64 starts, a win rate of over 50%.

As such, it would have been easy for Rossi to stay with Honda and almost certainly take his sixth world title in 2004 but, in a decision the #46 describes as being based upon the need for a new - and slightly 'crazy' - challenge, Valentino instead decided to move to Yamaha.

Yamaha have won just two MotoGP races since the class replaced the former 500cc category in 2002, and took a best finish of just third, with Alex Barros at Le Mans, this year. The Japanese marque also hasn't won a premier-class world championship since Wayne Rainey in 1992.

Immediately after the announcement, Crash.net asked for your opinion on both Rossi's move and a number of related issues, such as: Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? And, which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown?

Once again, the response was excellent and truly global, with opinions sent in from the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Holland, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Germany, Portugal, Russia and Zimbabwe.

So sit back and enjoy your fellow viewers' opinions - listed in the order they were received - after the most significant rider announcement for over a decade...

What do you think of Rossi's decision?

"Rossi has made a decision that is best for him, at this time in his career. Vale relishes a challenge and in previous years this came from making up ground after a bad start and learning to adapt to 500s and later the four strokes. This season you could see Valentino light up after having made errors by running off the track or passing under yellow. This winter Rossi can look forward to the challenge of developing the M1 and next season silencing all the naysayers by winning on a Yamaha.

"Rossi's development and setup skill, racecraft, natural riding talent and determination gives him such a margin on the field that one can expect to see him fighting for a podium spot at the beginning of next season and winning by mid-season.

"I feel that Hayden will emerge as Honda's top rider with Colin following up closely after learning the V5. Nicky is only 22 and now knows the bike plus the tracks. Max and Sete have been in GP's for quite awhile now and are getting on in their years, so, HRC will not look to them as the future.

"Valentino, in my opinion, will continue to dominate MotoGP as long as he remains in the series. It does not matter whether he rides a Honda, Yamaha or a Ducati."
David - Vancouver, BC, Canada.

"Rossi didn't think about Colin Edwards on an RC211V and Nicky Hayden has been getting better quickly and running with the front runners. I think the Americans on Hondas will give Rossi more than he can handle. Many rate Colin as Valentino's equal.

"Good on Valentino though. The Championship will be ten times better than it has been unless Colin Edwards runs away with the championship. At least Vale had the balls to go to another manufacturer, unlike Doohan."

Damien McMurray - Atlanta, United States.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? Depends if he can avoid injury. I really hope he can but he's going to have to shift his mindset away from winning every race (at least in 2004) to achieve this. If he can make the M1 (M2!?) work it will be a fantastic achievement but he needs to hope Yamaha aren't just relying on his skills.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? Podiums and a few wins - second in championship.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? Close call between Gibernau and Hayden depending on parts and politics.

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Sete, Max, Loris and Valentino. Lots of winners next year! Let's just hope Garry McCoy and Jeremy McWilliams are out there - sponsors are you listening? Go and get Peter Clifford a dream team!"

Phil Gardiner.

"If Yamaha can get its development together and focused, I don't see a reason why Rossi couldn't pull of an upset during next year's season. A championship may not be possible, given the level of the Honda, but perhaps wins are. Rossi's talent is deep, but he can only bring that talent to the fore if his bike is as developed as his skill. Will that be this year, on the Yamaha? Time will tell."

John Spoonemore.

"There is no doubt about Valentino Rossi's talent in motorcycle racing but on the Yamaha YZR-M1, I doubt he can win any races next season. Crashing is more likely while trying to keep up with the Hondas and Ducatis.

"Alex Barros crashed 14 times trying to keep up with the Hondas this season. While Rossi is definitely better than Barros in handling a GP bike (any make), don't forget that the world champion also crashed out a few times in his debut 500cc season on the NSR500, especially the first two rounds in South Africa and Malaysia and threw away his slim championship hopes (on his debut year) against Kenny Roberts Jr while running second chasing Garry McCoy at Valencia.

"Even with Australian Jerry Burgess and half his Honda crew members joining Rossi at Yamaha, HRC still has an option - hiring legendary Japanese American tuner Erv Kanemoto to head the factory Repsol Honda team next season. Kanemoto was the man behind Freddie Spencer n Wayne Gardner's world titles in 1983, 1985 and 1987 for Honda before leaving at end of the 1988 season to start his own team, Kanemoto Racing in 1989 with Eddie Lawson.

"Burgess was just a deputy to Kanemoto then and only got promoted to chief in 1989 with the signing of Mick Doohan to spearhead an all-Australian Rothmans Honda team with Gardner. Lawson and Kanemoto were in a separate Rothmans Honda factory team, similar to the 2000 season where HRC managed two factory teams but with two different sponsors; Repsol Honda (Alex Criville, Sete Gibernau and Taddy Okada) and Nastro Azzuro (Rossi + Burgess).

"If Rossi is looking for a challenge, he should consider racing a consumer RC211V instead and maybe have the bike fitted with either Bridgestone or Dunlop tyres against the other factory Hondas on Michelins before switching over to Yamaha or Ducati thereafter.

"Having said all that, Rossi can still be a threat to the Hondas. If he can' t beat the Hondas on his debut season with Yamaha, there is still a possibility of him beating the Ducatis for second overall in the constructor's championship and team standings."
Kai Pin - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"Regarding Valentino Rossi's switch to Yamaha for 2004... Marvellous!!!

"I have followed the GP circus for over 15 years now and have been privileged to have bounced around a few BSB and WSB paddocks in my time (getting drunk with Slick Bass in '95 will be something I try to remember for years... :o) ) but the MotoGP resurgence in recent years has propelled the sport to new heights of spectacle that surpass pretty much all motorsports. I remember only a few (6-8) years ago a dwindling 500 grid causing concern about available talent and strong sponsorship but just take a look at it now!

"There is a depth of quality in the riders that ensure the racing is of the highest quality, with the majority of the 26/28 strong grid past race winners at either 500/Motogp or WSB (the undiluted version, not this one-make Ducatisti benefit gig). It can only be a plus for all parties that the current World Champion has the foresight to progress his career to another manufacturer. It can only make 2004 the most anticipated season ever... (Apart from the 4-stroke introduction... or the retirement of Doohan... whatever!!)

"VR's move to Yamaha shows... no other word it... balls! To leave the mighty H is a brave, brave move... Could it have been any other way? Where would Rossi be able to maintain his status as the best rider in the world today if he didn't graze fresh pastures? To stay at Honda would only provoke the argument that the bike is the winner not the rider. The obvious answer is to retire (Doohan) or to put your money where your mouth is...

"I think it's a fantastic development for the sport... The sponsors will now have renewed enthusiasm to invest in the arena, the riders will have an injection of desire for the crown and the fans will enjoy some of the best fairing-bashing, paint-swapping, elbow-barging, rearwheel-spinning racing since...since...since.... well, forever!

"For Rossi to be competitive on the Yamaha, I understand there is a development cycle that needs to be started and I hope that the Barros/Honda rumour allows VR to climb on the M1 asap... it will be needed for the Yamaha tecs (Burgess? - I don't think so - that's one genius that's got Honda written thru him like a stick of Blackpool rock) to make the best of VR's talent... I hope the politics of racing doesn't interfere with the excitement..."
Tony Samm - Southampton, UK.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? Whether the decision to jump to Yamaha is a good one or a bad one is a moot point. Rossi has absolutely nothing left to prove in MotoGP. If he wins on the Yamaha, he moves up on the very short "best there ever was" list, maybe right to the top. If he loses? Well, we can always blame the M1. In the meantime, VR has so much money he can open his own bank.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? It's not too difficult to imagine that Rossi will be a title contender. He is clearly the best rider in the world and the M-1 isn't exactly a Kawasaki or a Suzuki, now is it? Besides, it is apparent that Yamaha has made a major commitment to regain GP Glory, and it isn't too hard to comprehend that they will try to move heaven and hardware to make the M1 competitive.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? One has to lean to Sete Gibernau. He has a year on the RC211V, he beat VR in a straight fight on several occasions in '03 and he will probably have (or at least share) the factory's best equipment in '04. Biaggi will be at the front but whether he can summon the drive to have a championship year is open to question.

"Nicky Hayden showed that he belongs on a factory Honda during the last half of the season, but realistically isn't quite up to the level of a Gibernau or a Biaggi. Yet. The variable in the Honda camp is Colin Edwards. CE wants to win in MotoGP and he wants to win bad. Edwards is one tough hombre who relishes a close hard-fought race. Anyone who saw CE overtake and beat Bayliss for the WSB championship in '02 knows this. The question is how quickly Edwards can master and adapt the RC211V to his riding style.

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown?
1. Valentino Rossi
2. Sete Gibernau
3. Loris Capirossi
4. Colin Edwards
5. Max Biaggi
6. Nicky Hayden."

Michael Walt - USA.

"It is great that Rossi joins Yamaha. He will win the title on the new V4 M1. He deserves more respect than Doohan because Doohan used Yamaha only for his own benefit (more money from Honda). Doohan was never serious about moving to Yamaha. That's the reason I don't think Doohan is loved in Europe, he was always complaining about the circuits and other riders.

"I have followed GP racing now for 25 years and Wayne Rainey is still the greatest for me, but Rossi is gaining my respect. Rossi will overshadow Doohan in GP wins and points, so forget Doohan and let us party about the fact that Rossi is the man."
H. Yzerman - Assen, Holland ("yes that circuit that Doohan doesn't like").

"Rossi has made a great move. He will win next years championship and prove that he is the greatest rider of all time. The reason I am sure of this is because the Honda bike is so great...

"That doesn't make sense you say if he is with Yamaha. Well if Biaggi, Gibernau, Hayden, Edwards, Tamada and possibly Barros all have an "equal" factory Honda, who will be the most dominant? None.

"They will all be fighting hard and will all get on the podium. Possibly all winning a race or two. Effectively robbing points off each other. So if no-one rider dominates it will be the most consistent who wins the championship. Step up please Mr Rossi for the 2004 MotoGP title."
Keith Wilson.

"Great news for MotoGP fans all over the World - 2004 should be a vintage season. With any luck, Gibernau, Haydon and Biaggi will now get equal kit as Honda ramp up the effort to retain the manufacturers' championship and regain the riders' title. Hodgson and Capirossi will get a better-handling Ducati as they try to hit back at Aprilia's own comparative rookie year success.

"Kawasaki have a new slimline bike in the offing. Proton will move up the grid as they overcome the teething problems with their new engine. Suzuki needs to up the ante to stay in touch. Which leaves Yamaha to cash-in on the formidable presence of Rossi to improve their bike so that he and Checa can snap at Honda's heals.

"Such a shame Schumacher doesn't do the same in F1."

Clive Rose - British.

"Val's move to Yamaha proves that Champions need a challenge... and that money is not the only motivator that drives these exceptionally talented people. Val has nothing to prove in his Honda leathers. He needs to prove, perhaps more to himself than to the world, that it was his riding and not the motorcycle that gave him his victories.

"For these, and many other reasons good for the sport, Val has made a risky but essential move to continue the building of his status as a true "Legend". We who watch in wonder and with enthusiasm will all benefit either way, from his success, or his failure. I appreciate his courage and wish him the best.

"Next year? We will see Nicky Hayden mature into a true contender. Loris will be there, and so will Troy Bayless. Colin Edwards has a lot to prove, and Max is on the hot seat. All should win races. Capirossi will be World Champion!

"It's going to be a great year!"

Dave Munroe - Canada.

"Without a doubt (Ross's move is) of the best things to happen in motor sport for years. It is nice to see a top class racer chasing the fight/challenge as well as the paycheque (just like the good old days! Can't believe I said that I'm only 35!).

"You have to admire Rossi's self belief and drive to take on what is at the end of the day an impossible challenge for a mere mortal ! He will without doubt turn the M1 into a winner, if he can turn it into a championship winner in his first year will depend on how 'GREAT' he is. But let's face it; it is just a matter of time.

"Colin Edwards will be pushing to be top dog at Honda if only to prove how wrong they were to let him go in 2003, he is without doubt a world class rider as his sheer grit showed in 2002, anybody else would have thrown the towel in facing the lead Bayliss had amassed."

Jim Judd - England.

"Whilst harbouring no doubts whatsoever about his immense talent, I am not a Rossi fan. I get chills watching him show, through his controlled slides and seemingly endless reserves of pace, an uncanny mastery of the machine he is riding which has been the RC211V. I also notice that when other riders are on competitive machinery, Rossi can be challenged.

"This is often overshadowed by the ubiquity of "Rossi is God" opinion and so several realities and truly massive achievements are downgraded unfairly and unrealistically. This season gave us a view of Gibernau slugging it out on a machine not far behind his, out-dragging him at the Sachsenring after cleaning him up in the wet and proving himself in the dry. The gallant Loris Capirossi first showing no fear at Mugello (as well as posting lap and speed records at race end) and giving Rossi a dose of his patented Biaggi 'Cocktail' at Catalunya. Biaggi himself out Rossi-ed Rossi at Motegi and Troy Bayliss had the impunity to lead races and win podiums. None of these are simple affairs.

"The crux of the matter is this, however: Rossi is the man to beat. For Vale himself, he too must question the depth of his dominance. Is it him or is it merely the layered advantage of HRC, Burgess, Doohan's tutelage and a superior bike bolstering his undeniable ability?

"Also, how crazy is the move, really? At Motegi, Yamaha showed incredible improvement with Checa able to show consistent pace that matched the RCVs. At Phillip Island, Melandri showed where bravery and a few screws loose could place the bike and at Sepang Checa again showed consistent pace in qualifying. Rossi has nothing to lose really because if he can win on the Yamaha, he not only puts a lot of doubts to rest but also smacks Biaggi in the mouth for good. Should he not, then Yamaha truly suck to be unable to exploit the Golden Boy.

"Ultimately, we must thank him because he has thrown down the gauntlet and said hey, take the 10 secs+ that I normally beat you guys with and I STILL will win. He has opted to risk technical DNFs (of which the RCV has none),setup woes, a different engine character (inline4 vs V5) and the rabid tenacity of some very talented riders.

"Loris Capirossi, this is your clearest window of opportunity. Last call for Biaggi. Will Gibernau stand firm and what will Tamada, Hayden and Edwards be able to do with what they inherit from big brother's toy chest!?

"Here's to the return of RACING as threatened at Brno and lewdly displayed at Motegi and Phillip Island. Rossi, love it or hate it, IS MotoGP."
Ngoli - Coral Springs, Florida, USA.

"I am delighted by Valentino's decision to leave Honda and seek a fresh challenge with Yamaha. I would have been even more delighted had he sought a fresh challenge with Ducati, but that may yet happen. Time is (for the moment) on his side; he will still only be 26 at the end of his two-year Yamaha contract.

"But the important thing is that he hasn't played safe and stayed with Honda; he's chosen to jump ship to a rival that has been eclipsed not only by Honda, but also MotoGP newcomers Ducati. That takes both bravery and a supreme belief in his own abilities. And deep pockets on the part of Yamaha and their backers, of course...

"It has revitalised the whole Championship; no longer will the best rider be on the best bike. The world's best rider will have to dig deep even to stay with his Honda-mounted rivals, and will also have to push his development skills to new heights. Whatever Yamaha are paying him, Valentino is going to earn his corn next year. However - if Jerry Burgess can be persuaded to come with him to Yamaha, then I believe anything is possible. Even the 2004 championship.

"But realistically, 2004 will be the year that gives Gibernau, Biaggi and Edwards their best ever chance of the title. For Biaggi I think it represents his last real chance of MotoGP glory. But in my opinion Gibernau has become a better rider in 2003 and must be the bookie's favourite, with Edwards the dark horse that could spoil both their plans.

"But Ducati (that name again) will not rest on their laurels and I expect Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss also to be up front challenging for wins on a regular basis. It's gonna be a vintage year, I predict. So how will the year end?

"I think the championship table will look like this at year's end:
1. Sete Gibernau
2. Loris Capirossi
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Colin Edwards
5. Max Biaggi
6. Troy Bayliss

"In 2005 the championship title will be Valentino's again, and a Yamaha rider will have won the title for the first time since Wayne Rainey in 1992.

"But Ducati will claim the Manufacturer's title, and in 2006 Vale will defect to Ducati and become the first Italian rider to win a World Championship on an Italian motorcycle since Giacomo Agostini. That will also make him the first rider of the modern era to win the Championship on 3 different makes of machine.

"I honestly believe the best of Valentino Rossi is yet to come..."

Graham Stewart.

"I think Rossi's move to Yamaha is the best thing for his career as well as MotoGP. How monotonous would it be if Rossi were to sign a long contract with Honda again? We'd see the same results we've seen the last 2 years. There would be no real rivalries and the racing would become pretty stale. We've all witnessed the immediate drop in interest in World Superbikes once Edwards and Bayliss left that series.

"With Rossi signing with a manufacturer that's obviously 2 steps behind Honda (as far as R&D is concerned), it opens up the series to a number of outcomes. You now have a handful of riders that could realistically compete for the crown. If Rossi were still with Honda, you'd have the rest of the field (maybe minus Gibernau) fighting for the #2 spot.

"With riders like Rossi, Gibernau, Biaggi, Capirossi, Hayden, Edwards, Bayliss, etc. all towards the top of the chart, you introduce a totally different style of racing. There's more at stake for more riders and the point differential between the riders will become smaller. As a rider, you have more to lose so there's more tension in the paddock. I think it breeds a more exciting race as opposed to riders trying to solidify their positions as early as the midway point in the season. This is exactly what will make this a more anticipated season.

"Although I am an American, I believe that Sete Gibernau will be right up there at the top again. He'll probably be Honda's #1 guy. I wouldn't be surprised if he won the championship. He understands what it takes to run at the top and he knows the tracks very well. I feel he did well under pressure this season. I think he's a great personality for a MotoGP champion and he would represent the series quite well. And with a boat-load of races in Spain, he definitely has an advantage.

"I think Hayden will do well but he's inherited a lot of pressure due to Doohan's comments and Rossi's move. I think he's a great rider but with everyone shooting for Rossi this year, he was able to develop under the radar without any high expectations. I think Edwards will have a decent season while getting used to the Honda again. Biaggi just can't seem to get over the hump and I think he's probably on his last leg. I just don't see the drive he used to have. Age? Could be.

"Rossi will be fine with Yamaha. He's definitely one of the front runners for the title. He is by far the best rider on the track. Now we get to see what he's really about by having him on a machine that's not the best out there. He will make Yamaha a better team, they'll sell more bikes and he will indirectly force other teams to search for young talent. I think it will ultimately help MotoGP stay on top as the premier class in two-wheeled sports.

"This is the first time in years that I've been this excited about the upcoming season. The last time was this excited is when Schwantz and Rainey were battling it out."

Mark Fowler - USA.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? Not best nor worst. Only time will tell. But has Rossi achieved anything? Of course! Total of 5 world titles in 3 different classes and 2 different bikes. I think he can retire. He does not have to go further anymore. Any titles for him again is just extra. What if he failed to take another title with Yamaha? He is still a hero in the history book. So basically he has everything and he has nothing to lose.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? Podium finishes and maybe 1 or 2 victories. Yamaha not only has to beat Honda, but also Ducati. But I think Rossi is blessed. Luck also counts in any sports. Rossi has the luck.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? Sete Gibernau because he can win. I would love to see Colin Edwards, but he has win nothing yet with Honda GP bikes.

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Sete Gibernau, Colin Edwards, Loris Capirossi."

Raf.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? Not at all. He can ride anything

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? 1st or 2nd in championship

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? Edwards

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Edwards, Sete, Biaggi, Bayliss, Capirossi, Hayden, Rossi."
J.B. Mattison - Michigan, USA.

"Valentino Rossi has shown us a career move bold and wonderful as any he has thrilled us with on the track. His decision demonstrates at once both an acute awareness that his business is foremost about our entertainment and that in addition to his most marvellous skills, he is owner of perhaps the hugest set of bollocks known to racing.

"In any future discussion of the all time greats of racing, this decision vaults him to the front row; If he stays at Honda he is assured of at least a tie but by signing with Yamaha he has eschewed the tie and played for the win! I am honoured to witness the event no matter the outcome and to which I can only add: Bravo, Vale, Bravissimo!"

Jim Boynton - USA.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? It depends if winning the championship next year matters to Rossi, if yes, then he has made the wrong choice, if not, then I am sure he will bring the Yamaha up to speed by 2005, and he will be champion again.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? I think Rossi will finish in the top five, Checa finished seventh this year, so Rossi should have no problem being in the top five.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? I think it is a three way tie between Sete, Colin, and Nicky, most likely with Colin coming out on top.

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Sete, Biaggi, Colin, Loris, and Nicky."
Scott Nezos - USA.

"Valentino has proven time and again how good he is and even more so when at a disadvantage. We have seen him twice go into the dirt, get back on track and finish in first or second. Then we see him at Phillip Island having to win by at least 10 seconds and he does that and more. The guy has the skill and mental capacity to win on any have decent machine.

"Valentino has had what I would consider to be the best team on the paddock. Burgess and crew have proven that given the same machine as 5 or 6 other rivals they can produce a better machine. I think they will rise to the challenge and make the Yamaha a more than ever competitive bike. I think Valentino will once again win the championship next year.

"Don't get me wrong he is not my favourite rider but I think he is the best."

David Dennent.

"I think Rossi has made the best decision of his career, as he would be not running at his full potential if he stayed at Honda. I would be very surprised if he does not still challenge for the title. Honda number one will be one of three riders - Gibernau, Hayden or Edwards. Any of the above three (could win the title), with Sete having the best chance."
Roy Jury.

"The move of the World Champion, Valentino Rossi, will greatly affect the MotoGP class but in a good way. This move will make MotoGP more exciting for us spectators especially to those who are part of the championship. Rossi has taken a brave move from the "unbeatable" RC211V of Honda to the M1 of Yamaha but this would demonstrate how confident the world champion is.

"Together with this, if Rossi does win another world championship for Yamaha, then we'll be able to call the Doctor the Specialist instead, since we can prove that Rossi can help teams win championships."
Mr. Ichiro Shirashi - Japanese/Filipino.

"It is obvious and certain that Rossi is now the only person who has the number 1 plate with him and is the number 1 in everybody's heart!

"Whether he's moving to any factory, there's no question that he will be still number 1. Despise the fact that Yamaha could not match Honda last season, Rossi's challenge to become the first ever Yamaha factory rider who will (most likely) win the MotoGP championship is typically his attribute.

"The different between him and all other GP legends is the showmanship. There's no doubt that no-one can match Rossi. No matter what the result, I believe that next season will be the best MotoGP show ever!

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision? It's the best decision for everyone. Everyone will be happy... that is Rossi!"

Dwihary A Putro - Indonesia.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? Best! He was making MotoGP boring, now we can cheer for him again!

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? A few wins in 2004, probably the title in 2005.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? That's just the point, there will not be one (until its too late)

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Edwards, Max, Sete, Rossi. But Rossi could win the title due to his consistency!"
Adam Sims - Sydney, Australia.

"Hey, I am a 14-year-old Australian from Tasmania and I LOVE ROSSI! I'm his number 1 fan. He inspired me to get my bike and start riding and I am saving up for one of his helmets - I think he should never have left Honda!

"Even though he is a really, really good rider he doesn't have the bike to get him another championship next year. Next year I am going to the Aus GP at Phillip Island and I'm very disappointed that I won't be able to see Rossi on a Honda. Even though I am a Honda supporter I will still support Rossi all the way on his crappy lil Yamaha."

Maddy Rowell - Tasmania, Australia.

"In my opinion Rossi's decision to move from Honda to Yamaha, regardless whether it is his best or worst decision, will only serve to make the upcoming 2004 MotoGP even more exciting to watch.

"Quite simply, it is a brave decision made by a true professional whom is not just content on winning races and breaking records, but one whom seeks to push himself and the sport to new and exciting heights.

"Without a doubt, he will struggle a bit at the beginning, but once he and his team gets used to the bike, I expect him to start fighting for podium finishes midway through the season, and perhaps even win a race or two towards the season's end. If he achieves this, there will be no stopping him in 2005, and this regardless whom rides for Honda and how far Honda progresses in 2004.

"In Rossi's absence in the Honda stable, I expect Gibernau to lead Honda's challenge, with Biaggi shadowing him very closely, but only for a while. My guess is, by mid-season, Colin Edwards will start to seriously challenge them both, with Hayden close in tow, and these Honda foursome will provide us with some spectacular racing. In the end, I believe Edwards will begin to show that he will be a serious title contender and no.1 Honda rider for 2005.

"Having said all, I think Gibernau, Biaggi and Capirossi will be the ones winning the races up to mid-season, with Hayden, Edwards and Rossi fighting for podium finishes, but the 2nd half of the season will see the tables turned and Rossi will start to win some races with Edwards beating the other Honda riders on a more regular basis.

"If Gibernau, Biaggi and Capirossi racks up as much points as possible before the start of the Rossi and Edwards onslaught, then these three shall be the contenders for the 2004 world crown, perhaps finishing in that order.

"2005, however, shall belong to Rossi. Period."

Edy Hazry - Malaysia.

"Well, first off, like any business dealings as the employee, make as much money as you can while they are willing to pay. Even they say it wasn't about money, you gotta believe that Yamaha still offered as much as if not more than Honda.

"Secondly, don't we all want to have our dream job, not just the job itself, but with all the demands, perks, and atmosphere we also would like to put us at ease while working.

"Thirdly, if we are to believe his need for a new challenge, well taking what is essentially the third place bike and trying to make it a winner is indeed just that. But let us not forget, Foggy left Ducati for Honda back in the 90s and all he did was win AND complain about the RC45 every race weekend. Then went back to Ducati and proclaimed it the best machine ever invented. If Rossi indeed gets pounded by the swarm of Honda's on the grid next year, he may very well come back with hat in hand.

"Fourth, Rossi is a star, make no mistake about it. Everyone has seen him pull 10 seconds to win at Phillip Island, and just because he needed to and go from 7th to 2nd in four and a half minutes at Mugello...if anyone can do it, it would be him.

"Finally, the move does open up things so that other riders can get better rides and be given an opportunity to win some. Rossi very well could have pulled a Doohan and ridden for Honda and won the next 5 championships, but would that have made him great or just made Honda greater? No one, in any sport, always wants to see the same team or athlete dominate year after year.

"Look at the Yankees in the US Baseball league, the Lakers in the NBA, and we all remember how they said racing was dead during Doohan's and Foggy's domination periods. Not to mention what it has done to WSB this season with Ducati basically the only manufacturer out there. Wasn't WSB more exciting with a rivalry actually happening on the track with Edwards and Bayliss? Wasn't it exciting to watch all the different winners in GP 500s back in 2000 when there were 6 or 7 different winners that year including Roberts, Rossi, Biaggi, McCoy, Checa, ect.

"I like Rossi, he is obviously the best of the new generation, but if he wants a challenge, let him show us how great he really is by doing what he is doing...and along with that, let his fans show their loyalty by still coming out in droves even if he isn't as successful this first year on the Yamaha (that is, if he isn't successful, which nobody wants to really say, cuz nobody thinks he wont be just that)."

Patrick Lawrence - USA.

"I think Rossi has made a good decision, with Honda he had nowhere to go, he was on the best bike in the paddock and I think if he went another year on that bike, he would become bored, at least with Yamaha he has a challenge.

"Seeing as it is his first year on a new bike (especially a Yamaha), I think the most we can hope for is a 10th place, but you know Rossi, always exceeds out expectations. The YZR-M1 will not be as good as the RC211V was, I think we all know that, but I think he will flog the guts out of his new bike and take it to new heights.

"As Sete Gibernau is my favourite rider (hehe), I will say he will be emerge as the top Honda rider, he did so well this year, 90% of the time in the top 3. But with Colin Edwards moving to Telefonica Movistar who knows, Edwards could do well also, he did win the Superbike title.

"I would say Gibernau or Hayden will be the new world champs next year, Capirossi has a chance but the bike still need some testing, it has the power but not the handling. We will see next year won't we. Biaggi has a chance but I think he is missing the personality most of the other riders have, so hopefully he won't win.

"All I can say is it is going to be an interesting year ahead."

Amy Guagliardo - Perth, Western Australia.

"I like it that Rossi went to Yamaha, we will see exciting races - great and nice to see. It's good that Rossi's given others the chance to ride the RC211V. I'm proud of him, he knew if he moved to Yamaha he would need to ride hard. Rossi is able to do more then anybody else in MotoGP even without the Honda RC211V. I think he can win the championship."

Rudy - Indonesia.

"It' all about guts. Rossi's got guts to prove to the world that Honda didn't make him, but they gained from him."

Gayassthri Segran - Malaysia.

"I think that this was the best decision for Vale. He wanted to have a new challenge and I think another year at Honda would have bored him. And changing to Yamaha clearly is a challenge.

"I'm sure that we'll see Vale on the podium next season and that he'll be among the top 5 in the championship. But I'm quite sure that a Honda-rider will win the championship 2004 and for me it's Sete Gibernau. I think we can hope for the most exciting MotoGP season next year!"

Nicole - Germany.

"Rossi's move from Honda is certainly one of the most important events in MotoGP in the last few years. If we think about it, everyone benefits from this, even Honda
"Rossi must definitely have had enough of critics attributing his achievements to the ever conquering bikes supplied by Honda. If he stays with Honda and continue to perform in 2004, most certainly his critics will make the same comments like a broken record. In fact, rumours have been flying around the net that Rossi's decision to leave was due to him being afraid that the critics will be proven right when all 6 riders in the Honda squad gets the same bike. They say that with his move to Yamaha, Rossi can always blame the bike for his poor showing. When will his critics stop?

"Rossi is definitely not a god like some of his fanatic fans claim he is. He is still mortal and a mortal can always be beaten. We've seen that happened this year a couple of times. With this move, chances of that happening is ever more likely. Still, Rossi is a special mortal, always having that extra mojo when he needs it as compared to other riders on the grid today. And because of that, he might just be able to pull this one off.

"That is provided that Yamaha delivers their end of the promise and provide him with a bike which is at least on par with the Ducati. I strongly believe Yamaha will. They have their reputation at stake. How would it look like when it seems like no one, not even a talent like Rossi, can make their bike win races? If Yamaha wants to join the ranks of Suzuki right now, I don't think they would go through the hassle to get Rossi. And Rossi knows that too. He also knows that if he still manage to cling on the crown on a Yamaha, it will shut all his critics up and put himself on the records higher than ever. It's definitely a risky challenge to take on but the rewards are more than worth it.

"Those on the Honda squad next year would definitely be glad that Rossi left. Not because they can never win with Rossi's around, but with one rider less, their chances will increase. With Edwards back on a Honda, who is not glad with this turn of events? Biaggi should be smiling too but he now has no more excuse to not win the championship.

"If Rossi fails to perform, then Honda can thump their chest and proudly say that their bike is all that matters. Problem is, what if the opposite happens? I believe Honda has prepared their entire arsenal, ready to strike to maintain their claim. Still, I hope Honda will allow Rossi to ride the Yamaha asap, else it would seems like they are worried indeed.

"With all the above, I cannot imagine what a season next year will be. Bravo to Rossi for making a move Doohan dared not make. Bring on 2004!"

Azhar Khamis.

"I think it's a move offering Valentino a new challenge, Yamaha must be jumping through hoops at securing one of the most marketable sportsmen of the moment. If Yamaha haven't got something special in the pipeline to improve their bike, I cannot see Rossi dominating, I'd certainly put him down for a win or 3 with rostrum finishes regular. Time will tell if this will be enough to win the title again.

"It's certainly brought about a lot of rider changes and I hope Marco gets a full factory bike. I'd be interested to see opinions as to who people think will be the top 3 in the Moto GP championship 2004, with what we know of who's riding what at the moment, mine is:

1 Gibernau
2 Hayden
3 Rossi."

Dave Dignum - British

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? He has just made a brave and motivating decision. He acquired the freedom for this decision and had the guts (and fun) to just do it.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? Podiums! Anything equal or more than 4 wins will be a great surprise for me and a fantastic success for Yamaha. Rossi is an important element but the quick evolution that Yamaha is looking for requires also an excellent technical team manager and the engineering team at the racing department. I don't have information about this last one and I just would love that JB would join the team. It would rejuvenate him!

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? It is worthless to guess as this decision will probably be very much influenced by markets (US is the biggest one) or sponsors (money and long term commitment counts) rather that pilot capability

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Sete, Nicky, probably Max, I would like Loris and I hope Vale."

Fernando - Portugal.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? It's a good decision to prove his skill.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? All depends on that how Rossi's command and development of the motorcycle will go. I think that Rossi can win the world championship on a Yamaha.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? I think not Biaggi, but Sete Gibernau (who is unique in fighting right to the end).

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Rossi, Sete, Hayden."
Sergey Hudorozhkov - Russia.

"Rossi moving to Yamaha: Not only great news for the sport but it just goes to show what an outstanding sportsman (champion) he truly is... It could have been so easy for him to stay with Honda and once again secure the championship in 2004.

"There is no doubt that Rossi has got a huge challenge on his hands especially with the limited testing period they will receive at the start of the year, but with the likes of Burgess and Rossi you can guarantee the Yamaha will be up there with the front runners at an early stage.

"Rossi's main rival next year... I'm going to place my money on Edwards! And you can't rule out the Ducatis of Bayliss and Capirossi. The World Champion next year... Rossi.

"*Yes I am a huge Rossi fan."
Simon 'Mog' Morton - United Kingdom.

"I think Rossi's decision will be a good one for him either way because he has the Honda "monkey" off his back, and that's worth its weight in gold. I think it will be a GREAT move if they run the bike that Norick Abe been seen riding, the one with the double shocks... are they going to run that one?"

Chris - Modesto, California.

"I think it's very brave of Rossi to move, it's the spirit of a true champion. I wish him all the best and I am sure he will be successful on the Yamaha."

Lex Mollevanger - Netherlands.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? It's not the worst neither the best. I expected Rossi to go to Ducati. Not for the Marlboro/ F1 connection, but just to win as an Italian on an Italian motorcycle. Instead he went to Yamaha, which is a good alternative if he's looking for a new challenge. I think he didn't go to Ducati because he's waiting for his old family Aprilia to come up with a competitive bike. I expect that Rossi will join Aprilia after one/two years with Yamaha.

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? Rossi is going to be world champion in 2004. Yamaha cannot afford the "loss of face" if the king of MotoGP doesn't become champion on their machine. They will invest like hell. And don't forget that Rossi is just the best rider in the whole field. Also expect a Yamaha R1 Rossi style/colours to go on sale early next year.

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? Hayden will be the man. Gibernau will be a good second and my expectations of Biaggi are not "Top 3". Also Barros (in the Repsol team) and Edwards will show some surprises next year.

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Rossi, Hayden, Capirossi, Gibernau, Barros, Biaggi, Melandri."

Robert van Heugten - The Netherlands.

"Has Rossi made the best or worst decision of his career? Not really, because Yamaha is have a competitive bike too although there's a some "slight quite" gap between Honda and Yamaha

"What do you think Rossi can realistically achieve in 2004? I think Rossi must realistically aim for 4th position next year and to beat his rival Max Biaggi achievement at Yamaha M1 (two GP race wins in 2002)

"Who will now emerge as Honda's number one rider? Max Biaggi will be the number one rider of HRC, Gibernau is not included because this year he had a Honda bike not a customer bike like Biaggi, and Biaggi produce good result on it. Hayden? A little bit early for him to take the job as no 1 rider

"Which riders will win races and/or be in contention for the 2004 world crown? Many names like Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards, Loris Capirossi, Troy Bayliss and Valentino Rossi."

Evo.

"I do not think leaving Honda for Yamaha will be a great change for Rossi. If he really would wanted a challenge why not switch to Aprilia, an Italian on an Italian machine.

"Rossi's greatest talent is his consistency, even on an 'inferior' machine like the M1 he will be able to achieve good results and maybe some first places. But the M1 has some catching up to do and Rossi might struggle during the first rounds of the new competition. If he and Yamaha do the job right, they may have good results during the second half of the season.

"Of course Honda will do everything to stop him and they need to score many points in the opening races, but they have the pilots to do so. Colin Edwards, familiar with Honda and able to win races and develop the RCV, might be Rossi's biggest challenger."
Ronald van Heek - Dutch.

"I am really excited about Valentino Rossi's move to Yamaha. Yes it means we can look forward to seeing more of the good stuff from these fast two-wheelers.

"Has Rossi made the right decision: I think so because by staying at Honda he simply would have won more races and championships without losing sleep. That would have made the MotoGP spectacle less interesting and more predictable. Now he has made a switch at a time when he is still in his prime and capable of proving that a combination of bike and rider really make a winning team. I am also sure that at the back of his mind he would also like to prove to the world and Max Biaggi that he can do it on a Yamaha. Yes the good old days are coming for Yamaha - so let's start preparing for exciting times ahead.

"Rossi's realistic chances in 2004: Wins - definitely - not as many as this year though. Crashing - a possibility that might throw the spanners into the works Championship - He will probably start off well, slow down at mid-season as he understands his bike more and finish the season on a high.

"Honda's No. 1 and other challengers:
Sete - Definitely championship material now - if he remains consistent.
Max - I foresee him winning races here and there and complaining when he doesn't win - next year could really be a frustrating season for Max - especially if Rossi wins races on a Yamaha and Sete continues from where he left off in 2003.
Nicky - still a little green - may win one or two races - still has time on his side.
Colin - He is difficult to predict. Will probably blow hot and cold during the season.
Barros - Give this man a Honda - and we might all be in for the biggest surprise of all. I think even Rossi will be worried about this fellow if on a Honda.
Bayliss - This Aussie really comes good at the second time of asking - let's watch him next year.

"I'm definitely looking forward to next year's championship and especially travelling the 1500km's or so from Harare (Zimbabwe) to Welkom (RSA) as I have done for the last two years - to see the action as it happens. So see ya folks at Welkom - 18 April 2004. Yeah!"

Vusumuzi Ndlovu - Zimbabwe.

"The most anxiously awaited move after the unbeatable performance of Rossi for the last two years has been the arrival of a new rising star, or Rossi riding a 'second class' bike.

"Many people think with such an extraordinary skill and bike Rossi can beat his rivals even if starting from the last row. His move to Yamaha surely makes him a different champion from the others. He prefers to look for a challenge than securing records. Needless to say his decision will make the race more spectacular. We will have to hold our breath expecting him to overtake his contenders one by one towards the finish in every race, if things are unchanged from previous years.

"With the rather 'unfavourable' bike, potential rivals will come from Max Biaggi (as usual). But now Biaggi can't complain anymore since the situation is completely reversed from the preceding year. Sete, if he manages to repeat this year's performance, will surely become Rossi's biggest opponent. Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi and perhaps Nicky Hayden will shadow Rossi as he tries to take his fourth MotoGP title and sixth world championship.

"However, the situation will remain unchanged if Yamaha is capable of providing Rossi with an excellent bike and technician. And he can only be beaten by himself or make unnecessary mistake. At least this flamboyant champ has given racing a new atmosphere.

"This is Valentino - a different world title holder to the others including his 'teacher' Mick Doohan - the five-times champion. Bravo Rossi!"

Andi Anggono - Indonesia.

As always, Crash.net would like to thank all those that replied to our "...Have your say" request for taking the time to share their opinions with the rest of the two-wheeled world. Without you, this article would not have been possible.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...