June 14th, 2010
The race to fill Valentino Rossi's seat is now running at full pace, not least in the press. Since Saturday afternoon at Mugello, the phones of everyone even tangentially involved with Yamaha's MotoGP effort have been ringing off the hook, with everyone from journalists calling for information to riders at every level offering their services.
Herve Poncharal is one such victim. As boss of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, and as someone with very strong ties to Yamaha Racing, he has had everyone with access to his phone number calling him to either ask him questions or offer advice. So it was a very tired Tech 3 boss who took MotoMatters.com's call to answer the questions he has been facing for the past 9 days.
He still has no answers to those questions, though. Yamaha is still hard at work, running through all of the possible options, but each of those options faces almost insurmountable problems. "We have tried many things, but there are problems with any choices," Poncharal told MotoMatters.com, explaining that there were many hurdles to be cleared in finding a replacement rider.
The dream is over. The millions of Ducati fans around the world who have had such a tough year in 2010, seeing Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga struggle with the Ducati 1198R, the rumors that three-time World Champion Troy Bayliss would make a return to World Superbikes were as if their prayers had been answered. The rumors had been rumbling since the beginning of the year, but when Bayliss tested the Ducati at Mugello earlier this year, breaking the Superbike record at the track, Bayliss himself started fueling the rumors, commenting that he was giving a comeback serious consideration.
But in a press conference held at Misano, given during the World Ducati Week festival, Bayliss shocked the assembled press by announcing that he is still officially retired, and that he intends to stay that way permanently. The comeback he had prefigured was now completely off the cards, and Bayliss had made his peace with retirement.
As well as a Q&A with Valentino Rossi, the Fiat Yamaha team also released a question and answer session with several of the key players surrounding Rossi. Here's what team manager Davide Brivio, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis, Rossi's surgeon Dr. Buzzi and Yamaha communications manager William Favero had to say on Rossi's recovery, and who is to replace the Italian.
Gerno di Lesmo, Italy
Thursday 10th June 2010
Q & A WITH YAMAHA MANAGEMENT AND DR. BUZZI
1. What caused the accident? Was it rider error or a bike/tyre issue?
The latest update on Valentino Rossi's condition comes in a rather unusual form, though an extremely informative one. Yamaha Racing today released a question and answer session with Valentino Rossi, in which he answers most of the burning questions Rossi's many fans have. The good news is that Rossi has not lost his fire for racing. The bad news is that he won't be back until Brno at the very earliest. Read for yourself what Rossi had to say:
Gerno di Lesmo, Italy
Thursday 10th June 2010
Q & A WITH VALENTINO ROSSI ON HIS RELEASE FROM HOSPITAL
1. Vale, first question: how are you and are you still in pain?
Within minutes of Valentino Rossi's terrible crash at Mugello, once it became apparent that the Italian's leg was broken, speculation began on who would replace the Italian. During the first update the assembled press received in a hushed media center at Mugello, one journalist, with blatant disregard for taste and decency (mea maxima culpa), pressed the Fiat Yamaha PR spokesperson on whether the team was working on a replacement. The spokesperson rightly pointed out that as the incident had happened less than an hour previously, it was perhaps a little too early to be thinking about this.
Once the dust Rossi's crash had settled, though, and it became clear that The Doctor will be out for the next three to four months, the debate began in earnest. The list of possible replacements was already surprisingly long by Saturday night, and has only grown since then. Disregarding wishful thinking (Troy Bayliss and Garry McCoy) and the downright impossible (Max Biaggi, Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis, all under contract), the two options most commonly named are moving a rider up from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team (Ben Spies being most frequently named in this regard) or bringing in one of Yamaha's test riders to take Rossi's place.
The latest update on Valentino Rossi's condition from the Fiat Yamaha team. A further update is expected later today:
ROSSI RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
At 1530 CET today Valentino Rossi was released from the Centro Traumatologico Ortopedico in Florence, Italy, where he has been recovering following surgery last Saturday to mend his broken right leg.
He was taken by ambulance to a helicopter and is now being flown to a hospital in Cattolica, close to his home, where he will meet with doctors to discuss the next stage of his recovery.
More information and details about his condition will be sent later today.
Once again, David Williams of the On The Throttle crew caught up with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies after the latest MotoGP round at Mugello in Italy. Spies talks to Williams about the Le Mans and Mugello races, about learning new tracks, about the difference between the older and the newer tracks, and about what goes into setting up a MotoGP bike for a race. As ever, an interesting interview and 30 minutes of a MotoGP fan's time extremely well spent.
Here's the video from OnTheThrottle.tv:
That Valentino Rossi's crash has had a huge impact on the millions of MotoGP fans who follow his exploits around the world needs no explanation. The huge outpouring of emotion at the Mugello MotoGP race showed that. For those fans who weren't at Mugello, and would like to pass on their best wishes to Valentino Rossi and wish him a speedy recovery, as well as send their wishes to Rossi's team, all of whom are equally hard hit by the crash, Yamaha Racing have opened a page on Facebook to give everyone an opportunity to do just that. So head on over to Facebook and send Rossi and all the guys at Yamaha a message, it will mean a lot to them. You can find the Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/yamaharacingcom?v=app_7146470109
After crashing out during the race at Mugello, a disappointed Nicky Hayden spoke to the press about what happened. Here's the transcript of that debrief:
Q: That looked like a Casey crash.
NH: Yeah, I just, I got a terrible start, it didn't help things at all when I let the clutch out and the bike bogged. You know, from the first corner to the end of the first lap, I recovered a lot of positions. Even the next couple of laps, I felt OK, but then when I got clear track, it was strange, I couldn't really make a lap time. At Le Mans it was the same, I felt like after warmup, I could go a lot faster. Yesterday in the afternoon, I could do mid 1'50s quite steady with the harder tire. But this afternoon, it was just impossible to make the lap time. I was pushing the front a lot more in the race than I had been all weekend, I went back and forth a bit with Melandri, and I just followed over that crest, and … I was a little bit inside, because the lap before, I got in too hot and ran wide. And I just lost the front. It was pretty quick, and I didn't have my knee down enough at that point to try to save it, and that was it.
Q: The track wasn't dirty there was it?
The latest update on Valentino Rossi's condition after his crash at Mugello from the Fiat Yamaha team:
Monday 7th June 2010
ROSSI UPDATE FROM DR. BUZZI
There have been doubts hanging over the fate of the FB Corse project almost from the moment it was announced. There were question marks about the state of the engine, worries about team financing, and problems with testing. After a test at Valencia, an initial press release announcing they had been accepted into the MotoGP championship had to be withdrawn, after Franco Uncini stated that the team had made good progress, but not enough to qualify for the grid. A later test for the bike planned at Misano had to be called off, after Garry McCoy, who had been contracted to test and race the bike, pulled out with a flu.
That withdrawal seems to have been the final nail in the coffin of the project. Today, McCoy announced that he and FB Corse have decided to terminate their relationship. No reason for the withdrawal was given, but it seems logical to conclude that a lack of technical progress combined with the question marks hanging over the project's finances have forced McCoy to decide that enough was enough.