Two years ago it seemed all but done. The legend had met his nemesis; and he failed. Even the great Valentino Rossi couldn’t tame the unruly Ducati Desmosedici. Two dismal seasons with the Italian team and Rossi announced that it was time to move on. By the time rumours had begun to swirl in the paddock that Rossi would be returning to Yamaha, the team with which he became the legend he is. After all, it would make perfect sense. Rossi would be back on a winning bike and Yamaha would have MotoGPâ€™s most revered rider back with them. Sponsorship would pour back in and so would the fans.
Rossiâ€™s first year back with Yamaha in 2013 went reasonably well. He started the season with a strong return at Qatar, finishing second behind team mate Jorge Lorenzo. But then he quickly became the best of the rest, with multiple fourth, fifth or sixth place finishes. The high point of the season was when Rossi had his solitary win at Assen. At the end, Rossi finished fourth in the championship, which was agreeably better than his 7th and 6th position in 2011 and 2012 respectively but still not quite what the fans expected of him. Or what he expected of himself.
Which is why Rossi hinted at the start of the 2014 season that it might be his last if his performance continued its lacklustre streak. Fortunately for him and the fans, 2014 has gone rather well. As of now. Rossi stands in a joint second place in the championship with Dani Pedrosa, both on 128 points. Of course championship victory seems a more and more distant possibility with every race. The fearless and seemingly invincible Marquez has won every one of the eight races so far and stands at 200 points. His rivals have thrown everything they have at him but so far, no one seems to have figured out how to best â€˜Marc the Mercilessâ€™. But thatâ€™s a discussion for another time.
The positive point of Rossiâ€™s strong performance this year is that both he and Yamaha seem pleased with their progress. The fresh two year contract gives the legend more time to do what he loves â€“ race to win. But then again Rossi is not young in the world of racing. Whether the 35 year old Italian has what it takes to fight for the championship against one of the most formidable young talents the sport has seen since the young days of Rossi himself remains to be seen. For now all we can do is sit back and enjoy watching him try.