Directly after the 2012 MotoGP season had ended, Valentino Rossi left Ducati after a poor couple of seasons and returned to his spiritual home – Yamaha. technically Rossi was still contracted to Ducati, but they let Valentino take part in the test session that was arranged after the final race of the season.
Valentino’s first outing on the Yamaha M1 came during the winter test session, however things didn’t go to plan due to bad weather and Yamaha aborted the first tests at Valencia and instead went to Aragon in a bid to avoid the rain and get some time of a dry track. At Aragon they found more rain, and eventually the Valencia track dried up. The poor weather meant that it was hard to gauge any meaningful lap times from Rossi, or indeed from any of the other riders.
It is not uncommon for Valentino Rossi to pull out a special helmet design for the pre-season winter tests, and the one he wore to mark his return to Yamaha was simple, but loaded with personal meaning.
The helmet has kind of unofficially become known as the ‘Kendo’ helmet, but in reality the design never really had an official name.
The helmet was a stark grey and black design with a huge yellow ’46’ on the front, positioned above the visor, and a grey Sun and Moon on either side of the helmet. The rear of the helmet featured the Japanese symbol for ‘Kendo’. The term ‘Kendo’ is used in Japan to express and very intense and personal emotion towards something. Valentino first encountered ‘Kendo’ when he met Masao Furusawa, the chief of engineering at Yamaha, when he first moved to the factory team from Honda. The design on Rossi’s winter test helmet was created by Masao Furusawa’s wife, and Rossi used it to express what it flet like and what it meant for him to return to Yamaha after spending two years with the Ducati team.
Rossi spoke about the first test sessions:
“For Yamaha it was very important to run in the dry, but it was not possible. It’s a shame because I had a great desire to do a good test and try the bike in order to understand exactly what we needed for next year … Unfortunately we have to wait until February. It has changed because it is a 1000 and has more power, the rest hasn’t changed.”
Image gallery of the Valentino Rossi ‘Kendo’ winter test helmet:
Where can I buy it?:
AGV have produced a beautiful replica helmet of Valentino’s winter test helmet to mark his return to Yamaha, and you can see it and find out where to buy it on our product page.