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Rossi hopeful for racing success beyond 2018

The Italian rider deliberates on what it will take to keep riding, and why he is prepared to do it

When we spoke after the podium last weekend you mentioned just how unbelievable this season is. It has been so unpredictable, and the championship is so close. Why do you think that's happened this year?

For many different reasons, I think. First of all, the bikes. The performance of the different bikes is very similar, and some bikes are good at one particular track but have a problem at another one, so, weekend by weekend the situation changes a lot. We know that the level of the riders is very high, and we have a lot of riders in great shape this year. There (has been) a lot of surprises, with riders that you don't expect in front, and who are able also to win the races. This is a great levelling for everything, I think that for the fans who follow it is incredible - for us (it is) difficult!

That was what we were going to ask you next! When you arrive every single weekend, and you've got no idea what's going to happen - no idea which rider's going be strong or which rider might struggle - does that change the way you mentally prepare for a weekend?

Yes, for me the bigger difference is that usually during a season, after seven or eight races, you already start to understand who is the rival - the main rival - and you start to race your best, but also to gauge him. This year, every weekend changes, and everybody in the championship are good, so it means that you just give the maximum and try to do the best (during a race).

Rossi's future: "If I'm still competitive, I'll continue"

In eight races we have already had five different race winners, and the points, in terms of since the latest system was introduced in 1993, are so tight. What do you think is going to be the key to winning the title this year?

This situation changes a lot, and changed again from last year - from Barcelona last year. We already had nine different winners – that was incredible – and this year five in eight races. The key I think, is try to win when it's possible, when the bike and the tyres work very well, but at the same time try to not make a mistake in the difficult weekends.

We have to be honest with you... we know that supposedly by the end of 2018 your contract runs out, but it kind of feels like you won't be going anywhere. How can you possibly retire when you're still so competitive? You're still such a protagonist for the Championship!

Well, when I signed this contract, I think “maybe it is the last one”, but I wasn't sure. It depends on a lot (of things) – I will decide next season, the beginning of next season – but if I’m still competitive and able to win, I want to continue.

Valentino, just one more question before you go. You're very much still, after 21 years in this sport, the poster boy for MotoGP. We have to believe that it's not just the passion of racing that keeps you here. You turn up to every interview, you speak to every fan - all with the same energy and enthusiasm. How to do you still maintain that side of the sport? We guess weekends like Assen help?

Yes, for sure. When you have a good result everything is more easy, but the passion for riding the motorcycle and being in the sport at the top level is great. And sometimes you forget the effort, you forget the travel, the trips, the hours in the airport, and everything else, because this is the great passion.