Interview with Rossi's Team Manager
Team Manager of Valentino Rossi, Davide Brivio previews the 2009 season, speaking about his expectations, the new bike…
Davide, this will be your 6th year working with Valentino at Yamaha. Do you still have as much excitement
and motivation as you did in 2004, when he first joined you?
“Yes, absolutely. This is the 6th season, but each one is different. The first was the one of the biggest challenges, but we won two titles before we faced some difficulties. The 2008 season represented an opportunity for redemption for us and we won. We have always set ourselves new challenges. Working with Valentino is very demanding, because we always want to do better and everybody's attention is on us, but we are always spurred on by this positive pressure. The new season is already bringing us great excitement.”
Your role in the Team was different in 2008 to previous years, because you were working only with Valentino. Were you happy in this revised role, and will anything change in this year?
“My work was different in 2008 because in the past I had always had to take care of two riders. This time I could focus on just one rider and this had many advantages, because Valentino Rossi could have a whole team working just for him. I was happy that I could dedicate my time exclusively to Valentino, because we have a great relationship, working with him is always fun, but above all it is professionally rewarding. It was a positive season, as the results we achieved showed.”
Valentino won 9 races last year, every possible title, and broke many more records.
Obviously your target is to repeat that again this year, but what are your specific aims for the team? Do you think you can be even more successful in 2009, or will it be harder this year?
“Certainly next year will be more difficult, partly because in 2008, after two hard years, we were not among the favourites. Maybe some people thought that it was the beginning of Valentino's decline from a competitive point of view. Instead we managed to have a great, redeeming season, so now everybody is waiting for us, especially our rivals. This is normal; when you don't win, you become more hard-bitten. This year Stoner will be more motivated and aggressive, as will his team. Pedrosa will try to do well and also Lorenzo, after his debut, will want to profit from his experience. It'll be hard, everybody is lying in wait for us. But this challenge is the good thing about sport, so we accept it and look forward to seeing whether Valentino will manage to hold these kids off!”
Do you think that Jorge Lorenzo will be challenging Valentino for the title? And how do you think this will affect the atmosphere inside the garage and the working relationship between the two teams?
“I think the atmosphere in the garage will remain the same as in 2008; there was a separation and this helped, because Lorenzo will be one of the toughest adversaries in the challenge for the title. He showed this last year although he committed a few errors due to slight inexperience besides some unlucky falls. He's certainly thinking about his 2008 mistakes this winter and he'll try not to repeat them; he will be one of the toughest rivals, but we already knew this. He is very motivated. For him and for the other riders beating Valentino Rossi is an achievement, so we'll have to put up a defence, or even attack these young riders who are hoping for the recognition they would receive if they managed to beat Valentino Rossi!
The wall in the garage will remain? Can you tell us the reason for this and your opinion about why it is the right thing to do?
“There has been a lot of talk about this solution, but now everybody is getting used to it. The dividing wall during 2008 was dictated by the presence of different technical partners, tyre suppliers, causing a divide in the technical structures. But this solution worked well. When two riders fighting for victory are in the same team, there can be some tension between them. This solution lets us manage the situation in the best way, because as they say we have ‘two roosters in the hen house'. Maybe it is better to keep them separatd and let them be at their best during the races. I work only with Valentino Rossi, this is a good solution for him. But it is also good for Yamaha in general, because it allows both leading riders, Valentino and Lorenzo, to express themselves freely, without tensions in their relationship. I think others will follow our example. Even if they don't have a real wall, sometimes there is an invisible wall and that can be even thicker than ours, which is visible. Other teams are experiencing tensions between their two riders, physically there is no wall between them but in reality it is almost as if there is one.”
Which riders, in your opinion, are going to be Valentino's main title threats?
“Looking back at 2008, Stoner is certainly the main rival. Then Pedrosa and Lorenzo, but we must also keep an eye on Dovizioso, who's joined the official team, has one year of experience behind him and is very constant in his results. We'll see how Hayden will adapt to the new bike. I expect a very hard-fought championship, with at least these six riders capable of fighting for victory in every race. The consistency in the results that was our winning weapon in 2008, with our 9 victories, will be very important. However the season is going to be very tough and unpredictable, therefore exciting from this point of view.”
Do you have any changes in your team's staff, or the structure of the team for 2009? Will you be changing any working practices in order to keep costs down?
“Never change a winning team! In 2009 we will keep on with this team, which is now preparing to challenge for a sixth season. The group is closely-knit and it includes qualified technicians. Nothing is going to change; we'll face 2009 all together with the same spirit as last season, which turned out to be very successful. There is going to be a change at management level in Yamaha Motor Company as Mr Furusawa, the architect of the successes of these recent years, has been deservedly promoted and his responsibilities will therefore be increased. Mr Kitagawa, General Manager of the Technology Development Division, to which the racing department belongs, has been promoted in his turn and has become President of Yamaha Motor Racing. There was a change at management level, with Mr Hayasaki as the new manager, but nothing will change at the team level or with the engineers working on Valentino's bike. We're confident and we all know what we have to do to aim to winning. We'll have to deal with this economic situation, but we won't be dramatic and we'll try to manage our resources at in the best way, with regards to logistics, business travel, and all those elements not directly affecting performance, the technical development and the on-track bike performance. We'll try to do reasonable things, but on the race-track we want to be at our best in order to aim at winning again.”
Do you think that Yamaha has built a bike which will enable you to be competitive from the very first race this year?
“Good question, we'll find this out at the first race. In 2008, when we won everything: the Constructors' title, the Riders' title, the Teams' title, it provoked a great motivation and reaction from rival riders and factories and they must have all started working to produce a bike capable of beating us. We'll do the same. This is the nice thing about motor racing: during the winter there is a lot of talk, because this or that rider is faster on this or that occasion, the fans and the journalists start passing judgements and making forecasts. Then, the facts disprove many of them and this is the most interesting part of our job. We haven't changed much with our bike, but we have made improvements in important sectors, trying to keep the level of competitiveness high. We'll see this at the first races and we hope that our bike will be up to the job. I believe it will be.”