The thousands and thousands of MotoGP fans around the world partial to the colour of yellow or the number 46 were relieved at the first major slice of news to emerge from the opener to the 2018 MotoGP season. That Valentino Rossi will be 41 years old in the opening phase of (most likely) his last FIM World Championship season in 2020 was not a surprising development – the iconic Italian had been hinting for several weeks that he’d be keen to compete into his fifth decade – but the fact that he choose to exist at the sharp end of the pressurised pool of Grand Prix for another three seasons (including 2018) says a lot about Rossi the man as much as the racer.
“I have enough strength and energy to continue,” he said at Losail for the first press conference of the year and before he rode to third place for his 192nd MotoGP podium on Sunday. “I like riding the bike and it can sometimes be difficult but I like all the things about this [racing], the lifestyle. The atmosphere in the team is good and the support from Yamaha is good.”
Questions of Rossi’s motivation have been more and more prevalent over the passing seasons as the lines creep up on the face, teammates like Maverick Viñales offer stiff resistance at the age of 23 and as the demands of MotoGP and arguably the most competitive era of the premier class hold fast and even climb.