Italian icon of the motorcycle world championship Valentino Rossi (42) will retire from competition at the end of the 2021 season, he announced at a press conference on Thursday. of the GP of Styria, Austria. “I decided to quit at the end of the season,” said the driver, nine times world champion in all categories but in decline for a few years.
“Unfortunately, I am starting my last half of the season as a MotoGP rider. It’s a difficult moment, quite sad, ”he said. “Next year my life will change. It’s been a really long journey, but really, really, really fun. “Engaged in 2021 with Yamaha-SRT, Rossi had announced it: he would decide his future this summer, according to his results. However, the “Doctor” had the most difficult start to the season of his career among the world elite, with only one top 10 in Italy and a sad 19th place among the drivers with 17 points on the eve of the 10th round.
“Not the results I expected”
“During the season, the results were not what I expected, so I started to question myself,” he explained. Rossi could have continued for an additional season (his 27th in the World) with his own team, the VR46, which will integrate MotoGP in 2022 as a Ducati satellite, but he decided otherwise.
“I would have liked to have raced with my team but I decided not to because it meant changing bikes (from Yamaha to Ducati, note),” he explained. “For two or three years it would be fine, but for just one season it might be too risky. “
However, we should not see the star disappear from the circuits: in addition to managing his team engaged in the motorcycle speed world championship, Rossi wants to try his hand at car racing.
“I think I’m a pilot for life,” he said. I’m just going to change bikes to cars, definitely not at the same level, but I think I’ll keep racing. “
The last of his nine world titles in all categories (6 in MotoGP in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, 1 in 500 cm3 in 2001, 1 in 250 cm3 in 1999, 1 in 125 cm3 in 1997) dates back to 2009 with Yamaha. However, he played the Top 3 in the drivers’ standings until 2018, the year of his last pole, again with the Japanese brand. To regain his last victory, we have to go back to 2017.
Rossi only signed two podiums in 2019 and took 7th place overall, then a single podium and 15th place in 2020, despite having never placed beyond the Top 10 since his debut in World in 1996.