Rumors Come True: Rossi Abandons Ducati For Old Home

WORDS: Kevin Hipp

PHOTOS: Kevin Hipp

It is confirmed! Rossi is back on the Yamaha Factory team, signing a two-year deal with the Japanese manufacturer. Rossi moved from a winning Honda team to the struggling Yamaha team in 2004, and turned the program around to win the championship in that year. Rossi won 46 races and four championships aboard the YZR-M1 before jumping ship to the Factory Ducati Team. Everyone thought it would be great to see the Italian pair dance their way to the front and be competitive, vying for wins and podiums.

Unfortunately, it never gelled. Reportedly, front-end problems were just too difficult to overcome. Ducati went so far as to change from a carbon-fiber monocoque to a traditional aluminum twin-spar frame to help improve the bike and make Rossi more comfortable in the saddle. Still to no avail, Rossi has only managed to get on the box twice in the last year and a half.

Rossi’s move back to Yamaha is complicated by the experience and resolve of the very fast Jorge Lorenzo, who sits atop the points standings in 2012 and will no doubt have the upper hand in influence within the team.

And who will join American Nicky Hayden on the other Ducati in 2013? Reports from overseas have current Yamaha Tech-3 rider Andrea Dovizioso moving over to the Italian squad.

Yamaha announced Rossi’s move this morning, including comments from Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha’s GP effort. He said:

“This announcement is once again excellent news for Yamaha. In June we were able to sign Jorge Lorenzo for the 2013-14 campaign and now we are able to confirm Valentino Rossi for the next two years. In doing so we have been able to put together the strongest possible team to challenge for victories and to promote the Yamaha brand.

We have run this ‘super team’ together in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and during that time we achieved the ‘triple crown’ titles with Rider, Manufacturer and Team World Championship victories for three consecutive years.

The target for the future is obvious and we will do our utmost to achieve our goals.

I have no doubt that with the experience, knowledge, skills and speed of these two great champion riders we will be able to challenge for many race wins and for the 2013 & 2014 World Championship titles.

The signing of Valentino completes our future planning for the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team. Now that this is done we will put our 100% efforts into completing the job at hand and to supporting Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo in their search for race victories and for Jorge’s 2012 World Championship title challenge.”