Valentino Rossi prolonged his MotoGP career until the end of 2014 at least because he is convinced that he can still be a race winner and world title contender against the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
That’s the view of MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta, who believes the 33-year-old would not have completed a shock return to Yamaha if he had any doubt about his potential to be competitive at the front again.
The nine-times world champion is looking to bounce back from a disastrous two-year stint with Ducati and prove that he can add to his record tally of 79 wins in the premier class.
Rossi scored just three podium finishes in 35 races with Ducati but curious to discover whether he still has the capability to compete with Spanish duo Lorenzo and Pedrosa on competitive machinery, he signed a two-year deal to return to Yamaha’s YZR-M1 last August.
Dorna boss Ezpeleta, who is aware of the need for his box office star to be competitive to stop declining TV and live audiences, believes Rossi would not have moved back to Yamaha unless he was convinced he could be a serious contender.
Rossi won four world titles and 46 races in the most successful period in Yamaha’s history between 2004 and 2010 and Ezpeleta told MCN: “My feeling is that Valentino is very well aware of his performance potential and he understands very well the performance of the Yamaha.
If Valentino is back there it is because he thinks that he can do it well. I doubt that Valentino would have even thought about coming back to Yamaha if he didn't think he could do a good job. In my opinion Valentino is convinced that he can do well and if he didn’t think that then he wouldn’t have continued.”
Rossi is currently on a promotional visit with Yamaha and reigning world champion Lorenzo in Jakarta ahead of preparations for the 2013 campaign resuming at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia on February 5.