Valentino Rossi has revealed that he campaigned for Yamaha to bring back Jorge Lorenzo as a test rider despite his previously frosty relationship with the Spaniard.
Lorenzo has returned to the Yamaha fold following his retirement from racing to head up the Iwata marque’s testing program this year and potentially make wildcard starts.
A wall was at one point erected between their halves of the Yamaha garage during Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s first stint as team-mates.
Lorenzo had a shocking 2019 season with Honda but expressed his comfort with riding the Yamaha M1 again during the recent shakedown test.
Speaking at Monster Energy Yamaha’s season launch, Rossi was overwhelmingly positive about the addition of his fellow premier class world champion.
“For me Jorge is perfect for us,” said the Italian.
“Because, first of all, I pushed a lot with Lin (Jarvis, Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Director) and with Yamaha to speak with Jorge. I think it’s a clever decision.
“Maybe somebody had some doubts because Jorge last year at the end was a lot in trouble with the Honda, but I always said to them that it’s enough that he ride one day with the M1 and he can be competitive, and in fact it was already like this the first day.
“And for us it’s important because now in modern MotoGP it’s very important to have a good test team, that brings the data and everything, but you need a rider that can be strong, can be fast, can make the same lap time as us.
“For us I think will be a big help to improve the bike in a shorter time.”
Maverick Viñales, who replaced Lorenzo when the latter left for Ducati in 2017, was also enthusiastic about the pick-up, in part because they are both Spaniards.
“For me it’s really important because also we are nearly from the same place, we speak the same language, also (our) characteristics are very similar,” said Viñales.
“For me, it’s much more easy to work (with him) and also he has been world champion with this bike, he knows what to do to be world champion.
“In all these years, we haven’t been that competitive to win one title, so to have the opportunity to have Jorge support the team and to understand what you have to do to be world champion.
“Also for the development of the bike, Jorge has been on the Yamaha for the best days of the Yamaha, he will know very well what we need to improve.”
While Rossi and Viñales pair up again this year, the former’s seat will be taken by Fabio Quartararo in 2021, with Rossi mulling over continuing his illustrious career in what would be a direct swap with the Frenchman at Petronas Yamaha SRT.
The first full official test of the calendar year has kicked off today at Sepang.