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Valentino Rossi at the 2018 GP of Qatar
NEWS

Rossi: “I’ll race until the end”

Mar 182018

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.

least one a season for the last half a decade. His ninth (and last) world title however came in the last decade. For all the talk of records and longevity Rossi clearly still wants to be submerged in racing and commit beyond a single speculative campaign. He cited the example of former world superbike champion Troy Bayliss as a reason not to step out of a sport if the timing didn't feel right. “It could be a risk…” he admits. “But that's why I’ll race until the end.”

 

For Movistar Yamaha there were multiple causes to invest and continue with an athlete that has given twelve years to the company and race team; the association has already yielded four titles and four runner-up positions. “There are so many reasons,” admitted Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis. “It’s difficult to give one. Because of everything he brings to Yamaha and the sport and the team [and] because of who he is. That’s the motivation. But I would also like to add that he is still highly competitive and absolutely a top rider capable of winning.”

“He will only continue if he is convinced he’s ready to put in that maximum effort and if he’s convinced that he can be competitive,” he adds. “It’s the same for us. We want competitive riders. If Valentino is convinced, that means he has made that personal commitment and he feels confident. Therefore so do we.”

 

Rossi will maintain his fight against the passage of time and that means MotoGP will soak up the special stream of colour and character for a while longer. On Sunday he showed that there were still plenty of stretch in the muscles and wiliness in the racecraft. “In our sport, like in other sports, just one thing is important: the result,” he said Sunday night. “So you can speak a lot, but the only important thing is what happens on the track. I don’t race for demonstrate to people that I’m not too old. I race to demonstrate to myself that I can stay at the top. This is the good way, I think…”

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