After racing for over two decades at the highest echelon of motorbikes, Valentino ‘the Doctor’ Rossi has announced his retirement from the sport at the end of 2021.
Rossi’s incredible aura and outstanding track record on two wheels – seven world titles and 89 race wins in MotoGP – compels us to honour one of motorsport’s most legendary figures.
The Italian rider informed the world of his retirement, 25 years after his debut in the sport, ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Styria.
“I said I would take a decision for next year after the summer break, and I decided to stop at the end of the season,” Rossi confirmed.
“Unfortunately, this will be my last half season as a MotoGP rider. And it’s difficult, it’s a very sad moment because it’s difficult to say and know that next year I will not race with a motorcycle, I’ve done that for I think more or less 30 years!
“Next year, my life will change. But it was great, I’ve enjoyed it very much, it’s been a long, long journey and it was really, really fun,” added the Petronas Yamaha SRT.
“It’s 25, 26 years in the World Championship, so it was great. And I had a unforgettable moments with all my guys, the guys who work for me, so… I don’t have a lot to say! Just this.”
“Unfortunately, this will be my last half-season as a #MotoGP rider” 💔@ValeYellow46 announces his retirement at the end of 2021! 🎙️#VR46Decision pic.twitter.com/4mUSQnswXT
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) August 5, 2021
At the peak of his career in MotoGP, Rossi mulled a move to four wheels, a plan that was even backed by Ferrari with whom Vale tested several times between 2004 and 2010.
In the end, Rossi never changed his destiny to try and emulate the great John Surtees, but at the time Ferrari was dead serious about its plans to move the Italian rider into F1.
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“Everyone knows it was not a publicity operation, Ferrari did not need it,” former Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo said earlier this year.
“At the beginning, it was almost out of courtesy for a great champion’s desire. I saw he was going strong, despite his lack of continuity, but he had a lot of potential and motivation.
“At one point we thought he would do a year at Sauber, but he was smart and preferred to remain number one in motorcycles rather than be fourth or fifth in cars.”
In December of 2019, after the F1 season, Rossi and Lewis Hamilton swapped rides for a day at Valencia.
Hamilton rode Rossi’s 2019 Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 in what was his first experience onboard a genuine MotoGP machine, while Rossi was perhaps comparatively more at ease at the wheel of Ham’s 2017 Mercedes W08.
While he won’t be saddling a MotoGP beast in 2022, Vale will remain in close contact with the sport thanks to his involvement with his very own new MotoGP outfit, the Aramco Racing Team.
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