The start of 2016 was anything but an end to the bitter divisions of 2015. The launch of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team brought the whole affair back to surface. For the first time since Valencia, the racing press has put questions to Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo that have helped to reignite the flames of controversy.
Rossi restated his belief that Marc Marquez conspired against him to allow Lorenzo to win the title. And Lorenzo expressed his frustration of being drawn into something he had no part of. The Italian press showed dogged pursuit of the Sepang fallout. Yamaha hadn’t invited us to Barcelona to rake over the embers of 2015, even though they knew it would come up.
That afternoon, Yamaha presented their entire racing programs, including World Superbike, World Endurance, MXGP and Enduro teams; an impressive reminder of just broad Yamaha’s racing activities are.
Romain Febvre won the MXGP crown for 2015, Mikael Persson became Endure Junior World Champion, and the GMT94 team were runners up in the World Endurance Championship. The MotoGP team was the one to get all the attention though. Preseason launches are always awkward. The first extended appearance of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi together for the first time since Valencia made the atmosphere strained. The entered the stage from opposite sides, and the tension was obvious. Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis stated: “We obviously realize that while as a team we are trying to win the triple crowns they as individuals are both trying to win the same prize. This is something we can never forget.”
Rossi denied he would be motivated by revenge. He stated his main motivation was the love of competition and the challenge of beating his rivals. When asked about respect for the other riders Rossie stated, “At the end of last year, especially Marquez, but also Lorenzo did not show any respect for me. I always had respect for them, but we will have to see what happens. Respect has to be something mutual.”