As youíre no doubt aware, Valentino Rossi clinched the 2005 MotoGP title two weekends ago in Sepang, Malaysia, with four rounds still remaining in the season, then backed it up this past weekend with a victory at Qatar. Private interviews with The Doctor are rare, but our friend Enrico Borghi, MotoGP reporter for the Italian weekly Moto Sprint, hooked us up with this one, which weíve translated into English.
By Enrico Borghi
RRX: Itís your seventh title, the fifth-straight in the premier class, and your second with Yamaha in just two years. What are you feeling?
Valentino Rossi: It was something completely different with respect to 2004, but itís beautiful just the same. The first time, itís a dream that becomes a reality, and after that, itís different. But every championship has its story and is something unique. Itís fantastic.
What do the championships have in common?
When you win a title, you arrive at a moment in which you realize the payoff of the work that was performed over the course of the season. Thatís where you understand how well youíve done. With your team, you savor the taste that you get from being the best in the world.
But the more you go forward, the more the pressure increases. In the winter of 2004, we were able to surprise everyone, whereas this winter we had everyone on top of us: everyone was prepared to beat us. We started in a different way, with a different pressure. But we did wellóall of us.
Now there are seven.
Itís starting to get to a nice number. And plus, itís five-straightónot too bad.
Youíve equaled Mick Doohan. How do you think heíll feel about that?
Weíve always had the good relationship that we still have now. Mick is also a little bit of a fan of mine. With the passing of the years, he has changed a bit in how he acts with me: at first, he didnít even really consider my titles in 125 and 250, because for him, those arenít world championships. Now heís different. Mick is nice to me, and also, I think he knows that the one who has equaled him deserves it.
How were you and your team able to win this title?
We were very strong right from the startóin particular, even when there were problems with the bike. Thatís when we demonstrated our strength, our winning mentality, and also our determination and ability in at least being able to prepare the bike for that race, no matter what.
What was the most difficult moment?
The Portuguese Grand Prix, because at half race, we were already 12 seconds down. But the practice and qualifying sessions at the Chinese GP were another difficult moment. Then, we were truly having difficulties: we couldnít understand why we werenít able to make our bike go. But in the warm-up, something changed: we found a solution that enabled us to win the race. And I said to myself, ďIf it works well in the wet, maybe it will also work well in the dry.Ē And it did.
That was the key?
It was in China and also in France: we made another step forward, and we were ready for the race. At Le Mans, we understood that we had gotten the bike ready.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The lack of the right balance. To solve the problem of the 2004 M1, which was a lack of stability in the rear end, we ended up losing proper balance; the 2005 lost a little grip in the front. But, calmly, we were able to fix everything.
So even if it didnít seem like it, there really were some problems.
Yesóin the beginning, when we didnít understand why this bike wasnít going. But when we solved all the problems, the M1 really started to fly. We always set it up well, at every track. Yamaha really did a great jobófrom the manager to the engineers, not even speaking about my team. Yamaha really adopted a winning attitude; they have the same desire to win that I have. In fact, they all gave me the motivation to continue riding at the highest level, for the whole season.
What kind of bike is the M1 now?
After two years of work, I think that the Yamaha is at the same level as the Honda. And as the Ducati. Now weíre always in the game, we can always battle without problems. It was a hard job, but a beautiful one. We did it. Now the M1 is a winning bike.
Do you think that at Jerez, with that aggressive pass on Sete Gibernau, you were able to end the game just as it was starting?
It was definitely significant, but it wasnít because of that pass that Gibernau started going slower. In my opinion, the most significant race was in France: Gibernau believed he could beat me, and he tried all the way to the final corner, but he wasnít able to do it.
Valentino Rossi was too strong?
The fact is that when my bike is prepared and I can ride like I want to, no one can beat me.
So did you even really have an adversary this year?
Letís see [thinks for a moment]: Gibernau, in the winter testsÖ