Photo by Andrew Wheeler – AutoMotoPhoto.
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Valentino Rossi is the winningest rider in the modern era and arguably the brightest genius roadracing has ever seen. As fans, it has pained us to watch him struggle against the torrential current of MotoGP development on a Ducati that seldom seemed to be above water. On this day of Thanksgiving, it must be recognized that Rossi returning to Yamaha is as good for Grand Prix motorcycle racing as it is for his competitive psyche. As much as Rossi, and all of Italy, wanted the combination of both Italian rider and bike to win the MotoGP World Championship, it simply was not to be. Not yet, anyway…
Through all of Rossi’s trials the last two years, we can see that his brilliance is not boundless. Vale’s and Team Ducati’s struggles also highlight that a small company, once set on the wrong path, simply lacks the resources to make decisive and effective course corrections; the substantial resources of Honda and Yamaha keep them moving ahead despite rule changes and new tires. Lastly, consider Rossi’s failure on the Desmosedici as a reflection of Casey Stoner’s willingness to take a fast but difficult machine and win a world championship through the sheer force of will.
Now though, the Stoner/Honda juggernaut has disbanded and Valentino returns to his beloved M1. Remember, this is not only the last bike on which Rossi won a race; it is his greatest masterpiece. It is the bike that he, crew chief Jeremy Burgess, and Yamaha created from the ashes of Yamaha’s 2002 and 2003 Grand Prix seasons.
The questions now are ones that only 2013 can answer: Is the Yamaha tent big enough for the skyscraping personas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo? Will Rossi’s dear old steed reignite the brightest star in the sport? Will we see flashes of the dominant Rossi from his Honda and earlier Yamaha days, or have we already witnessed his best work?
For now, we can lay back and digest the image of a Yamaha M1 splashed with neon yellow once again. And we can be thankful.