Senior Yamaha management have admitted being delighted and surprised by Valentino Rossi’s resurgent form in the 2014 MotoGP world championship.
The Italian’s brilliant second place in Sunday’s thrilling Catalunya race was the fifth time in seven races that the nine-times world champion has finished on the podium this season.
That is only one rostrum less than the 35-year-old managed in the whole of last season when he experienced a tough return to Yamaha after a nightmare two-year stint at Ducati.
Rossi is currently second in the championship standings behind dominant reigning world champion Marc Marquez and four times in 2014 he has finished behind the Repsol Honda rider.
And Yamaha boss Kouichi Tsuji paid tribute to Rossi, who is on the brink of clinching a new deal to remain on a factory YZR-M1 for 2015 and 2016.
Tsuji told MCN: “We are very pleased and very surprised with the performances of Valentino this season. We modified the bike but this year’s results from Valentino come 99% from himself. He is 35 and is still able to come back and we have to respect him very much because he is still very motivated and determined to fight at the top.”