One final chapter remains to be etched in the storied history between Valentino Rossi and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP. A marriage that has produced four MotoGP™ titles will look to end their 15 years together with one more crown. Although it may seem unlikely, in this most unusual and unprecedented of seasons, The Doctor will be planning on pulling off his greatest achievement yet: number ten.
First on the list for the Italian if he is to stand on top of the world again is to bring an end to what now stands as 46 races without a victory. However, what happened last time The Doctor went 46 races without a win? He returned to winning ways at the TT Circuit Assen; incredibly taking his 4,646th point in doing so. Will we see history rewritten at the opening round of the 2020 MotoGP™ World Championship at the Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto this weekend? Stranger things have certainly happened before in MotoGP™.
Looking at the season a whole, it truly is one of the most remarkable in premier class history, meaning experience will be vital. For some, it will have been just shy of six months without riding a MotoGP™ bike and when the season consists of, at the moment, just 12 races, any small advantage could prove pivotal. And what greater advantage than being the most successful, most experienced man on the 22-rider grip by some margin. This could be the season and the circumstances Rossi has been crying out for.
Plus, if Rossi needed any further motivation, inspiration and impetus going into 2020, then having two World Championship rounds at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli will surely offer that. The circuit is just a stone's throw from the Italian's hometown of Tavulia and, despite not having his hoards of fans paint the town yellow over both weekends, he will surely still get the boost and edge of racing on home soil.
There's an added dimension behind this year's World Championship fight too, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) looking to draw level with Rossi's nine titles. The pair's history needs no explaining. A rivalry that remains as fierce today as it did when it first ignited, with the odd handshake here and there now becoming par for the course. However, The Doctor will not want to have to share his tag as the most successful rider on the MotoGP™ grid in 2021 onwards.
We don't know for certain just yet whether the Italian will be on the MotoGP™ grid next season, although a move to Petronas Yamaha SRT looks almost certain to happen. One thing we do know for sure though is that this it for Rossi and the factory Yamaha squad. The Last Dance. And when Rossi is usually spotted strolling around the paddock in a pair of classic Air Jordan 1s, you can be guaranteed that the number 46 will have taken heart from the exploits of the number 23 over lockdown.