Suzuki MotoGP made Valentino Rossi bid on Facebook, signed Davide Brivio instead

Suzuki targeted the coup of poaching Valentino Rossi from Yamaha for its 2015 MotoGP comeback... but the approach instead landed it Davide Brivio

Seven-time MotoGP/500GP World Champion Valentino Rossi was approached to join Suzuki to lead its return to the premier class in 2015, according to outgoing boss Davide Brivio.

The decorated Italian Brivio, who steered Suzuki to a shock MotoGP World Championship title before announcing his exit earlier this month to join the Alpine F1 effort, was revealing details about behind-the-scenes moments during his time helming the team in an interview with MotoGP.com

In the piece, Brivio reveals he joined Suzuki as team manager on the strength of an original approach - via Facebook - from project manager Shinichi Sahara over whether Rossi, whom Brivio managed at the time, would be interested in switching from Yamaha to race with Suzuki for its 2015 comeback following a three-year sabbatical.

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With Rossi turning down the offer, Suzuki instead began discussions with Brivio to return to team management having led Yamaha to several titles during the successful Valentino Rossi-Jorge Lorenzo years.

"[Suzuki project leader Shinichi] Sahara reached out to me on Facebook, which was strange because I don’t use Facebook. I have a profile but I don’t use it. I don’t even know how, even now! But I saw a notification and looked at the messages.

"I saw Sahara's name and he wanted to know what Valentino Rossi's intentions were for the future. He told me that Suzuki wanted to return to MotoGP in 2014 and he asked if Valentino Rossi would be available to race for them.

"I spoke with Valentino but he said riding for Suzuki didn't interest him, Valentino wanted to go back to Yamaha [for 2013] and so I politely replied to Sahara to let him know Valentino was not interested.

"And then we started talking a bit and Sahara asked me if, in case he started a team in Italy, would I be interested? And I said yes, I might be interested. So I started with them on April 1, 2013."

Would Valentino Rossi have benefitted from a Suzuki MotoGP move?

With titles on Honda and Yamaha machinery, there is certainly something romantic about the idea of Rossi joining the third of the Japanese manufacturer triumvirate to make it a hat-trick, but the timing was never quite right.

Of course speculating over whether Rossi ‘could’ have won a title on the Suzuki is immensely hypothetical so one won’t dwell too long on ‘what ifs’ but it’s fair to say with Brivio at the ‘wheel’ as team manager there is a strong chance he would have been winning races by the time Maverick Vinales nailed its first comeback success in 2017.

That said, at that stage in Rossi’s career he’d have had a major steer on the development of the GSX-RR package, which might have hindered more than it helped his team-mates. It would have prevented riders like Vinales from stamping their own mark as an underdogs in a team that has deliberately never created a #1/#2 rider hierarchy, a structure Rossi would have likely demanded.

Many believe that last point is the reason Suzuki has evolved into a title-winning success with Vinales, Alex Rins and Joan Mir all coming in as precocious wide-eyed youngsters and promptly using a relatively blank canvas to carve their own angle.

Besides, Suzuki wouldn’t have won a title before 2020 and by 2020 Rossi wasn’t in a position to win one either, so it’s probably a moot point anyway.

Then again, there are murmurings Suzuki could eventually get its man if it comes good on a plan to expand to into a satellite team, potentially as early as 2022. 

With Rossi tipped to retire from riding at the end of 2021 and his VR46 Sky Italian outfit widely rumoured to be stepping up to MotoGP 2022, the stars could well be aligning for that Rossi-Suzuki dream team after all.
 

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