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Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi has been reflecting on his career within the MotoGP™ World Championship after last week marked the 20th anniversary of his debut within the premier class. As well looking back at some of the key moments in his career, The Doctor also looked forward to 2020 and beyond during an interview with Italian MotoGP™ broadcaster, Sky Sports Italia.
The nine-time World Champion admitted at the start of the year that we would use the opening part of the season to make a decision on whether to continue in 2021 and 2022 after Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo was signed to join Maverick Viñales in the factory Yamaha garage from next year. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Rossi says that the decision must now be delayed until later in the year as he uses the opening races of the 2020 World Championship to evaluate his performances.
"I was hoping to decide whether to continue in 2021 after the first part of the season,” said the Italian. “Now everything has changed, so I would like to have the first few races to understand how competitive I can still be."
Last week marked 20 years since Rossi made his 500cc World Championship debut; a race that was eventually won by Australian Gary McCoy. "I felt comfortable almost immediately," said Rossi remembering the race in South Africa. "I was lucky because I rode both the 500cc and the MotoGP bike, but the Honda 500cc bike I rode at the first test impressed me much more than the first 4-stroke Honda, which I tried the day after the Suzuka 8 Hours win in 2001. She was red, beautiful, with a black wing, but she impressed me less."
20 years later: Rossi reflects on his premier class debut
He went on to talk about his special helmet designs from over the years: "I have made a lot of them together with Aldo Drudi. The one I'm most attached to though is the one I used at Mugello in 2008 with my face, also it’s the most beautiful. The number we’ve made I don't know exactly, but I think there are more than 100, maybe 120. We’ve made many for testing, for Mugello, for Misano, for the World Championship victories. I have fought with Dainese to try to make me give them the least possible items at the end of the year. I did that so I could start my secret room, which is now like a museum."
Currently on lockdown in his hometown of Tavullia, Rossi explains how he has been spending his time whilst #StayingAtHome: "At home, I’m with my fiancée Francesca and my mother Stefania, plus our dogs and cat: this is my team. My brother Luca lives a few kilometers from here with his fiancée. I am lucky because I have a small gym, I try to train every day to keep fit. Then I watch some movies, some tv series, and also we play with the simulator with some other riders and drivers."
Finally, he spoke about his younger brother Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) after the Moto2™ rider kicked his season off in the Doha desert just over two weeks ago. "My brother Luca is a very intelligent and cool rider; this is what I envy about him. He is always very calm. In fact, we call him the Russian rider: ‘Marinovic’. I advise him to believe it, train, always do the maximum, because he can win important things. I am also quite cold, but he’s colder than I am. Before the GPs, even after 20 years of racing, I am a bit tense, but he is freezing, totally unflappable."