MotoGP: Bridgestone eager to begin work with Valentino Rossi

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Bridgestone boss Hiroshi Yamada said he is looking forward to prospect of working with Valentino Rossi in 2008, despite being one of the Italian’s fiercest critics in his bid to ditch Michelin.

Yamada has accused Valentino Rossi of having too much power in influencing major decisions in MotoGP, with the issue of the Yamaha star’s switch to Bridgestone sparking a major political dispute.

Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta personally intervened to secure Valentino Rossi a Bridgestone tyre deal, with accusations that the Spaniard threatened to kick Bridgestone out of MotoGP unless they agreed.

Carmelo Ezpeleta rigorously denied pressurising Bridgestone into supplying Valentino Rossi by saying he would implement a controversial one-make tyre rule for 2008, and give the exclusive contract to Michelin, unless the Japanese factory supplied to the seven-times world champion.

Bridgestone cracked under pressure and told Carmelo Ezpeleta they would supply tyres to Valentino Rossi on October 24, 2007 which then saw Ezpeleta withdraw his one-make tyre plan.

After all the upheaval and political wrangling, Hiroshi Yamada was relieved the controversial matter had been resolved, and happy in Valencia Valentino Rossi will join new world champion Casey Stoner on Bridgestone rubber next season.

“Always we like to have a good rider and obviously Valentino is one of the greatest riders in history and still I believe he has top potential.

“We are happy to have such a great rider, but this is also a new challenge because we have no experience with Yamaha. We have never worked together. This is a big challenge but we will try hard,” Hiroshi Yamada told MCN.

Asked if the circumstances surrounding the deal had left him with a bad taste, Yamada said: “Everybody seems happy, including Dorna. I hope Valentino is happy now too.

“The process during the last month was a very difficult situation for us. Finally we decided to supply Valentino because if we go in this direction everything is ok.

“Lets say we are reasonably happy.”

Did Bridgestone fear expulsion from MotoGP if it had turned down Ezpeleta’s Phillip Island approach to supply to Valentino Rossi?
“I don’t know but I felt so yes,” added Yamada.

Valentino Rossi will make his Bridgestone debut later this month in Jerez.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt