In a special Press Conference on Thursday at the Michelin® Grand Prix of Styria, Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) has officially announced his retirement from motorcycle Grand Prix racing at the end of 2021.
Over a career spanning more than a quarter of a century, the Italian has carved out a legend that will be hard to match or surpass, either on-track or off. Nine World Championships, 115 wins and 235 podiums, and being the only competitor in history to win titles in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP™ categories, mean Rossi’s name will forever feature in the history books. But his unique brand of charisma, speed, race craft and world domination – plus a dash of rock and roll – have made the Italian something more than a rider. The ‘Doctor’ has become an icon.
At the venue that saw Rossi take his first podium back in 1996, he announced that 2021 will be his 26th and final season in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. But the VR46 name will remain a key presence in the paddock, adding a premier class team next season, and the man himself will forever remain that which very few can claim: a motorcycling and sporting icon.
"I said I would take a decision for next year after the summer break, and I decided to stop at the end of the season. Unfortunately this will be my last half season as a MotoGP rider. And it's difficult, it's a very sad moment because it's difficult to say it and know that next year I will not race with a motorcycle, I've done that for I think more or less 30 years! Next year, my life will change. But it was great, I've enjoyed it very much, it's been a long, long journey and it was really, really fun. It's 25, 26 years in the World Championship, so it was great. And I had a unforgettable moments with all my guys, the guys who work for me, so... I don't have a lot to say! Just this.
"I had a very long career and fortunately I won a lot of races, but I have some moments and victories that are unforgettable. Pure joy. Some things where I laughed for a week and after 10 days I'd still be laughing, wonder why and remember the race. It's difficult, yes. A difficult decision but you need to understand... I think in the end in sport, the results make the difference. So at the end I think it's the right way. It's difficult because I had the chance to race for my team in MotoGP, together with my brother, something that I would like. But it's ok like this I think... we have another half season, I don't know how many races, I think it will be more difficult when we arrive at the last race, but for now it's just to say my decision to everyone. I can't complain about my career!"
For the quarter of a century of history and memories, the only thing left to say is: GRAZIE VALE!