VIÑALES: WE CAN’T BE FIGHTING EACH OTHER
‘When I was a kid the Doctor was my idol. I hope we can keep the respect’
Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales look united, relaxed and ready to set the 2017 Motogp season on fire. The Movistar Yamaha pair have formed a fast friendship that looks set to turn into a strong working partnership.
The team has suffered a 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 at Movistar parent firm Telefonica’s Madrid HQ, Rossi admitted that working with, instead of against, his new team-mate could be key to their success. “The rivalry on the track is hard, especially when it’s with your team-mate. It can effect your relationship off the track too. But I can have a better relationship with Maverick.
“From 2013, when I went back to Yamaha with Lorenzo it was better… until we had a small problem at the end of 2015! So we can have a good relationship with Maverick, especially when we work 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 such as 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 now we’re team-mates. 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 (ex-suzuki team-mate Espargaró) and myself were really close, and we improved the bike so much because of it. I think this year we need to do the same with Valentino, because it won’t be easy to beat Marc and if we want to do that we can’t be fighting between ourselves.”
However, while throwing the two together to fight not only their opposition but also each other might seem like a recipe for disaster, team boss Lin Jarvis is insistent that while it might cause him some stress, the strategy is also one that Yamaha have used to great effect in the past.
Relying on the age-old racing adage that the first person you have to beat is your team-mate, he confirmed that there would be no rider hierarchy in the 2017 team, with both stars enjoying equal status.
“The same philosophy continues this year. Valentino has mentioned it a few times that Yamaha’s philosophy is to have two fast riders, and sometimes that’s not so comfortable, because if you’re the faster one and there’s a clear hierarchy it can make one rider’s life easier. But it doesn’t necessarily make their performance better, and I think giving both guys an equal chance helps push the team.
“Our best results have always come when we’ve had two top riders together. You want to avoid all the drama, but I think, and maybe I’m dreaming, that it can be possible. But I’m under no illusion that if you end up with two of your riders fighting for a championship, you’re going to have tension. For now, though, Maverick and Valentino get on really well together. Long may it continue.”
Yahama unveil the new bikes with a new united front