MotoGP: Happy campers in Yamaha squad

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The Movistar Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales looks set to enjoy its most relaxed inner relationship of recent years come the start of the 2017 MotoGP season, thanks to a fast friendship between the new teammates that looks set to turn into a strong working partnership.

The team has been fraught with infighting in recent years thanks to the fiery relationship between Rossi and the Ducati-bound Jorge Lorenzo – but the arrival of Viñales, a rider Rossi admits to enjoying a healthy relationship with off the track – seems to have created a completely different atmosphere within the squad.

Speaking as the covers came off the team’s 2017 bike in an event at Movistar parent company Telefonica’s Madrid headquarters, Rossi admitted that working with instead of against his new teammate would be key to their success.

“The rivalry on the track is always hard, especially when it’s with your teammate, and it can effect your relationship off the track too. But I think that I can have a better relationship with Maverick.

“From 2013, when I went back to Yamaha with Lorenzo it was better for all the seasons, until we had a small problem at the end of 2015! So I think that we can have a good relationship with Maverick, and especially that we can work well together to improve the bike. “

His views were echoed by Viñales, a lifelong fan of the Doctor’s, who is going into the year hoping that their friendship doesn’t turn into a bitter rivalry like we’ve seen before between Rossi and riders like Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli.

“For the moment, the relationship is the same as before, with a lot of respect between us. I hope that it can continue like that, because when I was a kid he was my idol – and he still is. If we lose the respect it won’t be nice, for myself, because of how I’ve always seen him. I hope we can keep the respect from all our career going now we’re teammates.

“Also it’s important for Yamaha, because if we have a good relationship then we can talk more together and develop the bike better. I think that the strong point last year was that Aleix and myself were really close, and we improved the bike so much because of it. I think still this year we need to do the same this year with Valentino, because it won’t be easy to beat Marc this year and if we want to do that we can’t be fighting between ourselves.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer