BARCELONA – Those who know Rossi well, those around him who witness him training daily at the “Ranch” are convinced that he is “the same old Valentino Rossi.” That may be so, but the face of Valentino at the official team Yamaha presentation showed clear he is disappointment, that he is not full of his usual joy. Maybe it’s the aseptic environment of the Movistar office that didn’t help, maybe it was the atmosphere of a subdued presentation, somewhat formal and lacking in the triumphant celebration deserving of a team that just won everything in 2015: the world championship, the constructors’ championship, and first and second place overall in the championship standings. The fact is that Rossi appeared different to what we’re used to, even at these types of clinical official events, certainly the most uninteresting and least suited to the champion of Tavullia. In short, it is impossible to forget what happened in 2015, not only for Rossi, but also for Yamaha. What follows is an interview conducted by reporters with the phenomenon of Tavullia after the conference.
Valentino, what did you do after Valencia? Was hard to overcome the disappointment?
“After Valencia, it was difficult, especially the first two weeks were very hard, the disappointment was very great. I was at home, I did not do anything special, then there was the Monza Rally weekend: I returned to leading, to having fun, to do what I like. I can say that that was the moment when the disappointment of 2015 was over and I returned to thinking about the future.”
“Surely it was difficult to accept what happened at the end of 2015, and could have also have been the impetus to quit. But it would be like giving up and I want to race”
Why did you give to the appeal to the CAS?
“The appeal was made to not start from the last position in Valencia: everything else did not matter, it made no sense to continue.”
After Valencia, did you ever think about quitting?
“Surely it was difficult to accept what happened at the end of 2015, and could have also have been the impetus to quit. But it would be like giving up and I want to race, I think I’m still competitive. So no, I have never touched on the idea of quitting: I have another year contracted and, above all, it would not be the right reaction. We must take advantage of what happened last year to be even more motivated and we must look ahead.”
You shook hands with Lorenzo, that was not so likely to happen …
“We must be strong and leave out personal issues. Lorenzo was my teammate for many years and often was my direct opponent: we have to work together and be professional. If there is a good atmosphere it is nicer.”
Did you shake hands with Marquez?
“Fortunately Marquez is not my team-mate…”
You always said that age is not a problem, but many consider last season as your last chance to win the title: how do you see it?
“In recent years, I’ve heard many times that it should be my last season: but we hope that 2015 is one of many more … It will definitely be difficult to be as strong as in 2015, but that’s the goal: to fight for the win, for the title, to conquer podiums. Then we’ll see.”
All the rider are out of contract: will this be your last year together with Lorenzo?
“I have to think of me. As Lin Jarvis (responsible for all racing Yamaha, NDA) said during the presentation, after 3, 4 maximum 5 races we will begin to talk about 2017, but for me what happens with Lorenzo will change little, it won’t affect my decisions.”
The first time you met with Lorenzo after Valencia, what effect did that have on you? And what will happen when you meet with Marquez in Sepang?
“Seeing Lorenzo was normal, it will be the same with Marquez.”
“What is respect? For me, Marquez especially but also Lorenzo had little respect for me…it should be paid”, Valentino Rossi
They say that the desire for revenge can provide even more motivation, are you starting 2016 fully motivated …?
“Yes, I have a lot of motivation, that won’t be an issue. But it isn’t because I want revenge, I’m not racing for that, but because like it, because I like the competition, the challenge.”
Jarvis said that we want respect between the riders and between all the people involved in MotoGP: do you still have respect for Lorenzo and Marquez?
“What is respect? For me, Marquez especially but also Lorenzo had little respect for me. I believe I was right: I always respected everyone and will continue to do so. But it should be paid.”
Why do you think Marquez would have had all this bitterness towards you?
“I have asked myself that many times, but haven’t found an answer. Maybe I was his scapegoat, blaming me for his difficulties of 2015 … But you should ask him.”
Looking at the glass half full, you could say that to beat Valentino Rossi one had to ally themselves with other riders.
“It’s true, in the end I lost the title in 2015, but it was certainly a very good year: I reached the finale fighting for the world championship. It can be considered an honor that they had pull together to beat me.”
Would you do anything different in 2015 if you could go back, what about the statements on Thursday at Sepang?
“I totally disagree with those who say that Marquez reacted following my words: That wasn’t so, he had already decided to make me lose the world championship. So yes, I would do everything the same: my statements have not changed anything.”
In your opinion, has the image of MotoGP been compromised?
“Surely it was a situation that was no one was expecting, but it’s now in the past. It should have been handled better, also by the organizers, but fortunately we are returning to the track: that’s where we need to be professional, to have respect for each other. You have to be aggressive but not unfair, to fight only for oneself.”
Just this: There is little time left to talk about the motorcycle, tire, electronics…
“No one knows what the ideal balance is to make the most of the Michelins. The riding style is very different from that with Bridgestone, in a lot of small ways, from the corner entry, the distance traveled where there seems there are more problems, the output, the lines to hold… As for the electronics, it’s normal that the first time out all the riders complain because, inevitably, there has been a step back from what they were like before. I don’t think though that there will be a big problem, we are all on the same level and our engineers are smart enough to find the best solutions. I don’t know if the Yamaha is further back than the Honda or if it’s true that Ducati has tested the Michelins more 2015 because they could afford it, while Yamaha, with two riders fighting for the title, had to focus on Bridgestone. We have to be good and fast at Sepang to find the way forward quickly.”
Who will be the opponents to beat?
“They are always the same: Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Marquez. It could be, however, that with the new regulations things are more level and we are all more competitive riders.”