[2008.7.16 // Yamaha official website～Rider Lounge]
This is a very happy time in my life, having also moved back home to Italy after several enjoyable years in London. The hard time I spent last summer, which was well documented in the press, is behind me now and I am glad to be back home, near my friends and family. It has helped me focus more whilst at the races and the only thing on my mind this season has been trying to get the most out of the Yamaha and the Bridgestone tyres and getting on the podium at every opportunity.
Unfortunately, I missed the podium for the first time in eight races in the last round at Assen and I don’t say this very often but it was my mistake! At the first left I arrived too fast when the tyres were still cold, I was too hard on the brakes and I lost the rear. I was very disappointed because we had made a change to the set-up of the front and it was working very well – I could tell from the warm-up lap that my bike was ready. I knew I could have been faster than Pedrosa and, although it’s easy to say now, I think I could have fought with Stoner for the win because even after the crash, with a bent handlebar and no gear shifter, I was able to do the third fastest lap time with a 1’37.1! I apologised to Randy de Puniet and all of his team because I am good friends with his team boss Lucio Cecchinello and was sincerely sorry for them but I was also glad that I could recover and score five important points. Even though we lost the lead in the championship we are not far behind Pedrosa and I am looking forward now to some more technical improvements for my bike at the next races.
I had a good run of results before Assen, including the highlight of the season so far – victory in my home round at Mugello. Apart from winning the championship, winning at Mugello is the next best thing for me and once again it was like a dream. There is no way to describe the feeling I have standing on the podium in front of all of my fans there and I was so happy that I could win for the seventh time! Going into the race I felt quite a lot of pressure so it was also a relief because I didn’t want to disappoint everyone! It was a hard weekend for everybody because of the bad weather and the lack of dry track time, but my crew did a fantastic job with the bike and so did Bridgestone, who gave me a tyre that worked virtually the same from the start of the race to the finish. Bridgestone had never won at Mugello before so I’m really glad that I was the one to give them their first win there – it was an added bonus to an amazing weekend.
I enjoyed watching Euro 2008 and after I got home from Assen I watched the final. I think Spain deserved to win it because they played great football all through the tournament. Now I am looking forward to the new season of Serie A, especially because my favorite team, Inter Milan, has a new manager in Jose Mourinho. He is a very strong character with a great record so I am looking forward to seeing if he can win the Champions League for us, as he did with Porto. It should be an interesting few weeks coming up and I am excited to see which players he buys.
We have two important races coming up in July, at Sachsenring and Laguna Seca, where I expect Dani Pedrosa and especially Casey Stoner to be strong once again. They will both be real tests of how much progress we have made since last season – especially Laguna, where we finished 30 seconds behind Casey last year. Before that I will be going to the Misano World Circuit and Marina di Cattolica for the 11th edition of the Yamaha Fest, which will take place from the 4th to the 6th of July. I am looking forward to this year’s event, which I am told is different to last year because it will centre on four elements that characterize Yamaha: passion, challenge, innovation and reverence. They are four elements that also characterize me! Entrance is free, both in the autodrome and at the Marina di Cattolica and you can also enter the paddock with your own bike, so there will be lots of people there – I hope some of my Japanese fans are amongst them!
Ciao! Vale #46