Location: Sepang, Malaysia
Date: November, 2004
Position: 1st (fastest over 3 days)
Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards began testing the new Yamaha at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia for the winter testing session in late November in 2004. Rossi ended the 3 day test as the fastest rider overall on track and things looked promising for when testing resumed in early 2005.
As is common for Valentino, he had a custom helmet design created for the 2004 Winter test at Sepang, and it has become known as the ‘Cleaning Up’, or ‘Washing Powder’ design, as it was based on a popular washing powder brand in Italy. The reason for this will become clear below.
On the testing session Valentino Rossi said:
“We’ve been working on the new bike lots during these three days; it seems we do more and more testing every year, and start even earlier! Yamaha has put in a lot of effort to bring this bike here and enable us to start work on it in the right direction for next year, so it was very important for me to be here.
Not every part of this prototype bike is new, but Yamaha has changed a lot. We are aiming for more stability in the rear end, but we want to keep the sweet handling. We are also looking for a little more horsepower; as everyone knows, which is one area we need to improve on. We are still not quite there yet, but Yamaha engineers will continue this work during the winter and then I am sure we will be nearer our goal when we meet again in January. I am now looking forward to a long holiday! “
So why the washing up powder influenced helmet design? The design was based on a famous washing powder brand, complete with washing instructions on the rear of the helmet. The design was used to portray Rossi as a ‘cleaner’, and to make a statement on how he has ‘cleaned-up’, or won everything, in all the classes that make up MotoGP (125cc, 250cc, 500cc, and now MotoGP).
This was Rossi’s first season at Yamaha, a move that was met with raised eyebrows due to the perceived lack of competitive edge that the Yahama had, but Valentino Rossi had won everything that there was to win and he was seeking a new challenge. This helmet design subtly underlined the fact.
Either side of the helmet featured the word ‘Rossi’ in the design of a famous detergent and had the slogan “Rossi: Faster than this is impossible”. This caused some minor issues with Proctor and Gamble who owned the washing powder brand that the Rossi helmet was based on and they asked him to cease using the design. The back of the helmet featured ‘washing instructions’ at 46 degrees for victory in 125cc, 250cc, 500cc, and MotoGP.
Image Gallery of Valentino Rossi Sepang Winter Test 2004 (‘Cleaning-up’) Helmet: