Valentino Rossi has spoken publicly for the first time about his return to Yamaha’s factory MotoGP squad on the eve of this weekend’s Indianapolis round in America.
Rossi signed a two-year deal to return to Yamaha and partner bitter Spanish rival Jorge Lorenzo during the recent summer break having decided to end a nightmare spell with Ducati.
Rossi spoke of his curiosity to find out whether he still had the speed to race at the front in MotoGP and also his disappointment at not being able to claim more than two podium finishes on Ducati’s factory Desmosedici.
The 33-year-old said: “After Laguna and the summer break, I have enough time to think more deeply about my future. This is a great pity for Ducati and me and for all of our fans, but especially for all the guys that work with me at this project because I want to try to be competitive. But unfortunately, it doesn't happen.
"These two seasons are very difficult, and we are struggling very much. Unfortunately, we were not able to improve our speed, our performance, and to fight for the front position.
"So I decide for this that it is enough and my choice is because I try to understand which is the best bike, the more competitive bike for the next two years that maybe at the end of my career, or the last part, and this is the choice.
"It's a great pity. I'm very sad because in Ducati I find a lot of good people. We had great times together. We try the maximum, but unfortunately we were not able to achieve the result. So this is what makes the difference.”
Rossi’s decision to quit Ducati, despite a huge push from the Bologna factory and new owners Audi to get him to sign a new two-year deal, means he will renew his fierce rivalry with Lorenzo again for 2013 and ’14.
He added: “It will be interesting. Now the situation change a lot compared to the past and when Jorge arrived to Yamaha. Now he's the number one in the team, and our relationship is good. I have respect for him, and he has respect for me. So I think we can stay together.
"I am sure that together we can form a great team for Yamaha to try and achieve good results in the next seasons. I'm happy about the contract for the next two seasons.
"I know that I can be stronger with the M1 and especially I can enjoy because, you know, the next two seasons for me will be hard, especially try to stay with Jorge, also to beat Jorge, because now he's very, very fast.
"But I need a bike to enjoy. At this moment of my career I have to enjoy, I have to try to fight and to arrive happy at the track.”
Rossi said it was looking positive that his technical crew, led by Australian Jerry Burgess, would be joining him back at Yamaha but negotiations were still taking place and nothing was 100% fixed.
He also denied recent reports that his deal meant he would spearhead a new factory Yamaha World Superbike effort in 2015.
He added: “My future will depend a lot from the result of the next two seasons. Because I want to remain more than two seasons in MotoGP but depends how I'm strong and I'm fast with the M1.
"It's very early to say, because I hope to be faster, to be competitive, to enjoy and remain in MotoGP more than two seasons.”
Rossi said his first objective rather than thinking about adding to his nine world titles and 105 Grand Prix victories will be to understand if he can compete with the likes of Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
He said: “For sure, the world title is a dream. But in my condition now, especially you have to understand if I'm still a top rider, if I'm still fast, and if I can fight for the front row, if I can still fight for the podium.
"I don't know, because after two seasons like this, nobody knows. So before I speak about the championship, I have to understand if I can fight from the front row, I can fight for the podium.”
Rossi also said speculation that he was returning to Yamaha with a big money sponsor like Coca Cola was not true.
It had been rumoured too that American energy drink giant Monster would be backing his move as well as continuing to support the satellite Tech 3 squad.
But Rossi said: “These (rumours) are just bulls**t. I don't know why I have to bring money to race with Yamaha. I am happy about my contract, and my contract is fixed.
"So I hope that Yamaha can find a good sponsor for next year. I don't know if maybe have one bike with one sponsor, the other bike a little bit different, but I think no. I think will be all the same.”