Yamaha proud to bounce back from 2007 humiliation

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Yamaha senior boss Masao Furusawa has spoken of his pride at seeing Yamaha and Valentino Rossi return to winning ways after a torrid two-year spell.

Furusawa was a pivotal figure in Rossi winning his first two world titles for Yamaha in 2004 and ’05, but the Japanese engineering expert then took a back seat from racing in his role as Yamaha's executive officer for motorcycle development.

But in 2006 and ’07, Rossi entered a barren spell with reliability and performance issues seriously undermining his bid to keep the YZR-M1 on top.

Rossi’s humiliating defeat to Casey Stoner and Ducati last season saw him threaten to quit Yamaha at the end of 2008 unless major improvements were made to the M1.

The influential Furusawa became more heavily involved again and the outcome was a vastly improved bike, which Rossi has won eight races on so far in 2008, and yesterday he clinched a third MotoGP crown in three year’s for Yamaha.

Furusawa said: “I had a lot of requests from Valentino and this was the first time that I have talked with a rider so much. After the successful years in 2004 and 2005, we lost the championship for two years. Of course has Valentino has pointed out, some of the mistakes were done by Valentino, but most of the reason was the bike.

I think the bike is just a tool for winning the championship, and the rider is always controlling the machine. If something is wrong with the machine, the rider can hardly manage it. At that time I had some regret at not supporting Valentino. 

"I am a very busy guy. My job is not only the racing, so in 2006 and 2007 I had to step aside from the racing. We also changed the organisation a little bit because we always need new engineers to be trained by racing.

"I made some mistakes when I reorganised in 2006 and 2007 and that was one of the things we talked about with Valentino last year. So I came back to the racing circuit more frequently and also I changed something in the organisation with engineering.”

Furusawa reckons the main reason behind Yamaha’s recovery was the improvements made to the in-line four-cylinder motor.

He added: “Valentino is not only a good racer, but he’s also a very good analyst. So I had lots of information from Valentino last year about what was wrong with the bike. This year we focused a lot on the bike, especially on fuel consumption.

"Last year at the beginning of the season, like in Qatar for example, to see somebody easily overtake my bike. That was a fuel consumption problem and this year we really concentrated on that and also increasing maximum horsepower. I think this has been why we have been so successful.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt