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Déjà-vu for Doohan as Rossi ponders Yamaha switch

Déjà-vu for Doohan as Rossi ponders Yamaha switch

Déjà-vu for Doohan as Rossi ponders Yamaha switch

Mick Doohan has surprisingly added fuel to the fire over the rumours surrounding his Honda protégé Valentino Rossi's proposed switch to Yamaha, claiming that the rival factory are in a strong position to snatch the signature of the Italian after learning from their previous experience during his own riding career. Doohan has revealed that Yamaha almost enticed him away from Honda on several occasions and admitted that their failure to do so could be the key to their determination to ensure that history is not repeated.

"I think Yamaha probably learnt a lot with myself," said Doohan, who won the 500cc World Championship for Honda on five consecutive occasions during the 1990s. "I would do a contract every year rather than a two-year deal, and we toyed with it every year for a few years and I'm sure that they know that they have an opportunity now to grab Valentino and their experience from the negotiations with myself, they way they broke down, I'm sure they're not going to let the same thing happen again with Valentino.

"It could just be that they might be committed to put something together. Yamaha is a big factory. Yamaha I'm sure can win races with a leader and Valentino is a leader. At the moment I don't think we have that many leaders in the paddock."

Despite his loyalty towards Honda, for whom he now works as HRC Racing Manager, Doohan also admitted that as a race fan he would enjoy seeing Rossi on board the YZR-M1. "I would like to see it happen like everybody else would like to see it happen but only if it's beneficial to Valentino. I really hope wherever he goes he has a lot of fun and has some success and I believe he'll have it anyway."

Should Rossi make the switch, however, Doohan is already confident HRC have the ideal man to fill his boots. "We need some new leaders and without a doubt I think Nicky Hayden is a future World Champion within the next year or two. If Valentino does go I'm sure Nicky Hayden has every chance, with all the right backing behind him, of being the next World Champion. So Valentino would have to know also that it's time to get a move on and get that bike up to speed and get himself into gear."

To hear the rest of this exclusive interview, which also features Doohan's thoughts on Rossi's third consecutive title-winning season and Sete Gibernau's surprise challenge, click on the video link to the right of this page.

MotoGP, 2003, Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi

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