SportMotoGP"At dawn, secretly and hooded", this is how Valentino...

"At dawn, secretly and hooded", this is how Valentino Rossi discovered his first Yamaha

The Italian, who after leaving Suzuki at the end of 2020 has developed the functions of race director at the Alpine Formula 1 team this season, landed in MotoGP in 2002 , after extensive experience in the world of Superbikes. 

Yamaha hired him to perform the functions of team manager of the MotoGP structure. A year after his landing on the tuning fork brand, Brivio and Lin Jarvis , who was already the company’s director in the paddock, conspired to launch one of the most celebrated offenses ever. 

The situation played on his given side. Rossi had been passing the roller for three years as Honda ‘s flagship, but the sufficiency with which he was imposing himself and the lack of competition among the other constructors –Yamaha had not celebrated a title since 1992, with Wayne Rainey–, established the belief that the success corresponded more to the bike than to the rider, and that almost anyone could prevail as long as they competed on an NSR, first, or an RC211V , later. The math is very revealing in this case: in the 11 courses between 1993 and 2003, Yamaha won 24 grands prix, while Honda won 117, almost five times as many. 

That was the fiber that Brivio and Jarvis struck and that encouraged Il Dottore to face the biggest challenge of his career. The story seems much simpler than it really was, especially when one has the opportunity to sit down with one of the architects of that operation. And above all, because even within Yamaha itself there were people who did not see Rossi’s arrival clearly, due to the compensation it could bring if things did not go as planned. 

“At first, Yamaha did not want to sign Rossi, because there was a current that, if he won, everyone would think that he would win, that it would only be his merit. And that, if he didn’t win, the focus of blame would be on the bike,” Brivio told Motorsport.com. “The one who changed that thought was Masao Furusawa , who in 2003 (June) became the project leader. It was he who convinced the president of Yamaha that Valentino had to be hired. Between all of us we convinced the leadership that, in order to win, it was essential to have a top driver. Honda won, yes, but they did it with the best: Doohan, Rossi”, adds the Italian, who remains silent about a possible return to MotoGP, again at Suzuki. 

(Before reading on, click on this link or scroll through the images to see photos of Valentino Rossi’s debut on Yamaha in 2004)

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP Team

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP Team

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Podium: Sete Gibernau, Honda, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, Marco Melandri, Yamaha

Podium: Sete Gibernau, Honda, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, Marco Melandri, Yamaha

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Podium: race winner Sete Gibernau, Honda, second place Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, third place Max Biaggi, Honda

Podium: race winner Sete Gibernau, Honda, second place Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, third place Max Biaggi, Honda

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Foto de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Podium: race winner Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team

Podio: ganador de la carrera Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Podium: Sete Gibernau, Valentino Rossi, Marco Melandri

Podio: Sete Gibernau, Valentino Rossi, Marco Melandri

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Podium: Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing and Sete Gibernau, Honda

Podio: Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing y Sete Gibernau, Honda

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi’s crashed motorcycle

La moto chocada de Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi’s crashed motorcycle

La moto chocada de Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Oliver Jacque and Valentino Rossi

Oliver Jacque y Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Winner, Valentino Rossi

Ganador, Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Winner, Valentino Rossi

Ganador, Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Winner, Valentino Rossi

Ganador, Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Winner, Valentino Rossi

Ganador, Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Podium: winner, Valentino Rossi

Podium: ganador, Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

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Foto de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

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Foto de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ganador, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Ganador, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

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Foto de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ganador, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Ganador, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

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Foto de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Winner, Valentino Rossi celebrates

Ganador, Valentino Rossi celebra

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

The 2004 champions: MotoGP 500cc, Valentino Rossi, with 250cc, Daniel Pedrosa and 125cc, Andrea Dovizioso

Los campeones 2004: MotoGP 500cc, Valentino Rossi, con 250cc, Daniel Pedrosa y 125cc, Andrea Dovizioso

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Makoto Tamada and Valentino Rossi

Makoto Tamada y Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Winner, Valentino Rossi celebrates

Ganador, Valentino Rossi celebra

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Podium: winner, Valentino Rossi with Max Biaggi and Troy Bayliss

Podium: ganador, Valentino Rossi con Max Biaggi y Troy Bayliss

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Podium: champagne by Valentino Rossi

Podium: champagne para Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi on the grid

Valentino Rossi en la parrilla

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Makoto Tamada, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden

Makoto Tamada, Valentino Rossi y Nicky Hayden

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Podium: winner, Valentino Rossi with Max Biaggi and Troy Bayliss

Podium: ganador, Valentino Rossi con Max Biaggi y Troy Bayliss

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Winner, Valentino Rossi celebrates

Ganador, Valentino Rossi celebra

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Winner, Valentino Rossi celebrates

Ganador, Valentino Rossi celebra

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Podium: winner, Valentino Rossi with Max Biaggi and Troy Bayliss

Podium: ganador, Valentino Rossi con Max Biaggi y Troy Bayliss

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Championship winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador del campeonato Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP Team

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP Team

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Helmet and gloves of Valentino Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP Team

Casco y guantes de Valentino Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP Team

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi crash

Choque de Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Championship winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador del campeonato Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Championship winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador del campeonato Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Championship winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador del campeonato Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Podium: Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau, Loris Capirossi

Podio: Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau, Loris Capirossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau

Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi

Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Race winner Valentino Rossi, second place Max Biaggi, third place Sete Gibernau

Ganador de la carrera Valentino Rossi, segundo lugar Max Biaggi, tercer lugar Sete Gibernau

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Race winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador de la carrera Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Race winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador de la carrera Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Race winner Valentino Rossi

Ganador de la carrera Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards press conference

Conferencia de prensa de Valentino Rossi y Colin Edwards

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi press conference

Conferencia de prensa de Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo de: Yamaha MotoGP

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

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Photo by: Gauloises Fortuna Racing

It took Yamaha just under a year to close all the loose ends that would lead to the #46 racing for the Iwata-based builder in 2004 . The significance of the objective that was being attempted was so brutal that the meetings between the Tavullia runner and what was to be his future team had to take place in an atmosphere of secrecy. Above all, because Honda put the renewal contract on the table on several occasions. One of the strategies that were addressed with Yamaha was how Rossi should go long for the manufacturer of the golden wing. 

“During the 2003 World Championship we met with Vale almost every race weekend, to talk about many things. About the formation of the team, which mechanics he wanted to take with him, how to face the tests and others. The problem was where we met, because in the paddock you are in sight of everyone, and in the hotels we are all mixed teams, ”continues Brivio, who especially remembers two moments that, due to their bizarreness, will remain forever in his memory .

“One of the strangest episodes was the one at the Clinica Mobile in Brno . We stayed there after ten o’clock at night, when all the physiotherapists and doctors had already left. We unzipped the tent, went in and sat around a table that was there, and started the meeting. Suddenly, we heard a motorcycle approaching, and both me and Lin hid under the table”, explains the executive.

When it was time to negotiate, Gibo Badioli , at that time Rossi’s agent, over-braked and then backed off. “On an economic level, Badioli’s demands were disproportionate at first. Then we managed to reach an agreement. And I think that later, with what Yamaha came to sell, he more than recovered that investment”, abounds Brivio, who also keeps in his retina that midnight in which Rossi met for the first time what would be his new motorcycle in a few months. 

“After shaking hands, the moment came when Vale wanted to see the bike. It was at the Donington Park circuit. We waited until dawn, because we wanted no one left in the paddock. And he entered hooded so that he would not be recognized”, recalls the current leader of Alpine, who indirectly gave the pilots back the focus that they still maintain today. 

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