Author: Bike Social Sports Reporter Posted: 08 Jul 2014
BT Sport MotoGP pundit Keith Huewen has described Valentino Rossi’s recent form in the MotoGP World Championship as the Italian ‘coming alive again’ and admits wrongly writing the Italian off at the start of the season.
Huewen was not alone in thinking Rossi’s time was over, with many journalists joining the broadcaster in voicing doubt about the Italian’s potential for 2014. Surprising many, Rossi has been the only rider consistently able to get anywhere near runaway championship leader Marc Marquez so far this season. The Italian has taken five podiums out of eight races including four second place finishes and currently sits second in the championship standings, the highest he has ranked mid-season since 2009.
“If you’ve got the enthusiasm, you will find it in yourself to keep trying and to me that is the stand-out, remarkable thing about Valentino Rossi” said Huewen, speaking to Bike Social. “He wants it so much, even at this age and having achieved so much in life.”
“There are three things about Rossi this year. First is the fact that he really, really wants it. He made his mind up last year that he was going to do this at whatever cost to get this job done; firing Jerry Burgess was ruthless in an attempt to make sure he had exactly what he needed for this year. Nobody knew whether what he was doing was right or wrong but it turns out he was probably right! He made those moves to put himself in a better position for 2014 and that to me is outstanding.
“Second, when I was watching him back at the Sepang test it looked like he was a different bloke. I didn’t recognise him on the bike! He was trying so many different things to try and make that bike work at the beginning of the year! And three, he has his girlfriend trackside. That has never been seen before from Valentino Rossi, or at least not on such a regular basis. He has come alive again.”
It’s not often you’ll find a journalist holding their hands up to admit being wrong and what’s more so, being happy about it. Keith isn’t the only one doing it either. There are very few, if any, journalists who truly believed Rossi could re-find his form and even those that believed it could be accused of wishful thinking. Even here at Bike Social, not one member of our team expected Rossi to be where he is this year and like Keith, we’re happy to be wrong on this occasion!
“I didn’t expect it at all; I was with the many others who had written him off” explained Huewen. “He’s revitalised his team and really wants it and boy he’s proved us wrong. He said a couple of weeks ago that all he needs now is to be 21 again and that’s so true. He’s got everything in place, he’s got the skill and the determination but Marquez may just have it over him with being 21, getting away with things that seemingly only 21 year olds can get away with! The Honda is the better all-round package too and if you consider that and take Marquez out of the equation it shows you just how well Rossi is doing. It’s only Marquez stopping Rossi from being at the top of the game.”
After proving what must feel like the entire world wrong, Rossi has signed a further two-year contract extension with Yamaha to remain in MotoGP until 2016, a move that Huewen believes will see the Italian flourish before the curtains drop on his colourful career.
“Signing a two-year deal is a clever move. He’ll know what’s coming from Yamaha; there may be things in the development pipeline that will see him given what he needs to bridge that gap in 2015. Everybody is so close at the moment, MotoGP is fantastic but the Honda just has the edge over the Yamaha.
“Rossi is so relaxed; he’s happy on the motorbike and seems so relieved to be riding well again. Imagine what two years at Ducati must have done to his head? Any other rider would have dropped their head at that age and it’d have been the last you’d have seen of them! Most people would be done and dusted after the Ducati saga, but not Valentino Rossi. I’m mega impressed. He’s always been the kind of guy you are in awe of but at his age, with his background and financial status you have be impressed with how he’s so single-track minded when it comes to racing. I didn’t think he’d do it at all and I’m happy to hold my hands up about it. Rossi is one of those men you only see once in a lifetime.”
Marc Marquez has won every MotoGP race so far this season and Rossi sits 72 points behind the Spaniard. Rossi is without a doubt the second best Grand Prix rider in the series at the moment and Huewen tells us how this is an incredible feat, especially how the Italian has forged his way back into the number one seat at Yamaha.
“The commitment and speed he has shown this year you can’t even describe him as the best of the rest. He’s gone from being the number two rider at Yamaha to completely frying the brain of the bloke the other side of the garage. Lorenzo is struggling this year and yes, it might be down to the Bridgestone tyres but he’s got a 21 year old Spaniard wrecking him in his home market and now his older team mate and former nemesis is beating him again. Don’t forget that there used to be a wall between those two in the garage and it might not be there physically anymore, but it doesn’t just go away. They might be shaking hands and smiling at each other but that sort of stuff is not just forgotten. This is a competitive war and now Jorge is second to Valentino again and that’s impressive.”