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On Friday morning at the Losail International Circuit, Valentino Rossi will roll out of pitlane to officially begin his 26th season as a Grand Prix motorcycle racer. And after spending 15 seasons in the factory Yamaha setup, The Doctor springs into a new challenge, teaming up with close friend Franco Morbidelli at Petronas Yamaha SRT.
In an interview with Massimo Calandri of La Repubblica, the nine-time World Champion spoke about his future as a rider, wanting to become a father, the chance to get vaccinated in Qatar and the thrill of challenging himself in the premier class alongside some of his VR46 Academy riders.
“For the factory team, Yamaha chose Viñales and Quartararo. I understood why, but I went and said: ‘Are you going to leave me without a ride?’ They couldn’t say no, so here I am riding for Petronas Yamaha SRT”
It’s a move that sees Rossi link up Morbidelli in an all-VR46 Academy line-up, but there’s two other riders from the Academy that will compete in MotoGP™ this year. “Luca [Marini], my brother, and Pecco Bagnaia, one of my ‘students’. It’s too much fun, it’s like going to play football with friends on Monday nights, only we race on track on Sunday’s.”
The 42-year-old then chats about his future on track. It’s a question that will become more apparent when a few 2021 rounds have been completed, but Rossi doesn’t want this year to be his last – at least for the time being.
“Offically it’s [his contract] for a year, but my goal is to race two more. It will depend on how things go in 2021. If I have fun, fighting for wins and podiums, staying in the top five, then I continue...”
Rossi was also asked about the eventual return of eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Winning six of the eight MotoGP™ seasons he’s competed in, Marc Marquez is understandably the one rider that everyone wants to beat, but the number 46 feels as though his fellow competitors have changed their attitudes in the 93’s injury absence.
“His absence, the other guys have grown a lot. And they're not afraid of him anymore.”
The 2021 show starts under the lights at Losail for the Barwa Grand Prix of Qatar. However, in the build-up to and during the two Grand Prix weekends in Doha, MotoGP™ and the Qatari government teamed up to give every member of the travelling MotoGP™ family a chance to get vaccinated. Rossi explains how “we are very privileged” to have the opportunity to get vaccinated, and how he wants to give the fans at home something to smile about as the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
“We at MotoGP™ can at least bring a touch of joy, lightness: we are like football and F1 - an entertainment. When people see me, they love me because I've helped them live a lot of beautiful Sundays. And now they really need it."
Sport aside, Rossi also expressed his desire to one day become a father. “I would like a child. I think about it, I think I found the right girl. One or two children: it can be done. Also because after the years pass and you get bored, so it is worth it.”
Tune into the entire Grand Prix of Qatar weekend to see Rossi and the other MotoGP™ riders on track as racing begins in 2021!
3 years ago