Yamaha can cope without Rossi and Furusawa, says race boss

Published: 04 March 2011

Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis is adamant the double blow of losing star rider Valentino Rossi and the major engineering influence of Masao Furusawa in the space of a few months will not hurt the Japanese factory's bid for a fourth successive MotoGP crown in 2011.

Rossi quit Yamaha at the end of 2010 to complete a big-money two-year deal with rivals Ducati, while Furusawa will retire from his role as Executive Officer Engineering Operations Motorcycle Headquarters on March 24.

Rossi won four world titles for Yamaha but he was helped immensely by the technical expertise of Furusawa, who transformed the race department in Japan for 2004 when the Italian arrived from Honda.

Furusawa was also a major influence on development of the YZR-M1, forming a close bond with 32-year-old Rossi as the pair instigated the most successful period in Yamaha's history.

Nine-times world champion Rossi has hinted that a key reason in his decision to quit Yamaha was because of Furusawa's impending retirement.

So how will Yamaha absorb the loss of Rossi and Furusawa in less than six months?
Jarvis explained to MCN: "I'm not so concerned in the short term. Firstly, in terms of sheer rider performance, Jorge (Lorenzo) was the dominant rider last year and I don't expect him to be slower this year. He will carry the advantage of having consistency with the bike. It will be his fourth year with Yamaha and the bike is already at a very good level. I don't think there will be huge developments on the 800s in 2011, so I think the way we finished the season has given me a lot of confidence and our testing performance confirms that we are moving in the right direction. I'm convinced that the bike will be competitive in 2011. Mr Furusawa may not be with us in the future but his legacy remains, so all his engineers and that reinvention of our engineering department is still there. The boss maybe leaving but the army is still in place."

Jarvis though conceded that Yamaha's position as the dominant brand in MotoGP would come under serious threat in 2011.

Honda has dominated the winter testing campaign so far with Marco Simoncelli and Casey Stoner topping the timesheets in the two recent Sepang tests in Malaysia.
But Jarvis said with Lorenzo and Texan Ben Spies spearheading Yamaha's 2011 factory assault, he remained optimistic ahead of the new campaign.

He added: "In terms of rider speed I think Jorge being so young and being so fast, I'm confident with him. Ben coming on board, he's definitely got world championship-winning talent and he will be stronger this year. But I don't underestimate at all Casey, Dani (Pedrosa) and Valentino. Honda has got a whole barrage of top riders and it will be a really intense championship, but we're ready for it and we're not afraid."