Laurent Fellon dropped the bomb during this past Grand Prix of Spain. The manager and personal friend of Johann Zarco assured Eurosport France microphones that Valentino Rossi had blocked any possibility of his rider continuing his sporting career within Yamaha, either within the factory team or in the new satellite structure that the brand Iwata will put on track in 2019 after the departure of Tech3.
The manager of Zarco said that the decision to sign for KTM was his after discarding all the possibilities that the bi-champion of the world of Moto2 had on the table, a range of options in which there was a great absentee: Yamaha. And that the head of Yamaha Motor Europe, the French Éric de Seynes, did the impossible to get Lin Jarvis sit with Fellon to talk about Johann Zarco, something that never happened.
“Éric de Seynes, who has helped us a lot, did what he could,” explained Fellon in Jerez. “And I say Eric de Seynes because nobody from Yamaha has come to see us, he did everything he could to take the necessary steps and take us to Yamaha, and that has not happened because Valentino has blocked all the roads.
As expected, these words soon reached the ears of Valentino Rossi. The Italian was surprised by the statements of Fellon, and assured the Italian press that he has not have blocked at any time the talks between Zarco and Yamaha: “I’ve been told, I do not understand why he said that it’s not true, I do not have veto power over my teammate, so imagine another rider on a third motorcycle,” Valentino said.
Fellon also had a brief encounter with the transalpine press during his walks through the Jerez paddock; the Frenchman repeated his arguments again, and added something else: Valentino’s strategy of vetoing Zarco at Yamaha has to do with the future arrival of the riders of his academy to MotoGP, already thinking about the future team that Rossi will have in MotoGP Beyond 2021. “Valentino has been intelligent and patriotic, it is clear that he is preparing the ground for his pilots when he stops,” added the manager of Johann Zarco.
Interestingly, in Yamaha, nobody wants to talk about this matter. Both Jarvis and Meregalli refused to appreciate Fellon’s words about Valentino, nor did they want to give details about the negotiations that the Iwata factory would have had with Zarco to try to retain him before accepting KTM’s offer.