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GP Week : Issue 107
Valencia marked the end of seven remarkable years for Rossi and for Yamaha. They celebrated it with a general love-in after his last race. He joined when the company had just had its worst ever year in GP racing, in 2003. He won his first race on the reworked bike. And that was the start of an amazing story. Rossi spoke of the difficulty of persuading his crew to move with him – a crucial element. “I had to battle with them. They said ‘You are f***ing crazy to go to Yamaha. We want to stay with Honda.’ But I persuaded them, and one of the reasons for our success was the atmosphere in the pit.” He’d had to persuade himself. “But if somebody had told me that I would win four championships and 46 GPs with Yamaha, I would have signed in blood.” He picked that debut win at Welkom as his best – that bike now lives in his bedroom. “Sometimes I wake up and my socks are hanging from it,” he grinned. Then it was Yamaha’s executive officer Masao Furusawa’s turn: “In 2003, it was our worst ever year. I was in hell,” he said. “ We knew that whatever we did to improve the bike, we needed something more than that. I did not believe we could persuade Valentino to come, because Yamaha was very bad at that time, and Honda was very good. “He came, and when he won the first race in Welkom, I had gone from hell to heaven.” Yamaha, Rossi and the end of an era Moto GP VALENCIA >> 41