Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

‘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

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