Racing legend Valentino Rossi has ended speculation regarding his future after announcing that he will remain in MotoGP with Yamaha for the next two years, when he will be 41 years of age.
The Italian, a nine-time world champion, is regarded by many as the greatest racer of all time. Although the last of his title wins came in 2009, The Doctor has remained one of the championship’s front runners, winning at least one race each season since returning to Yamaha in 2013, and is still without doubt bike racing’s biggest draw. With Maverick Vinales also signing an extension, it means that the factory Yamaha line-up will remain unchanged until the end of 2020.
Rossi says that he is still enjoying his racing and is motivated to continue his legacy. He said: “When I signed my last contract with Yamaha, in March 2016, I wondered if that would have been the last contract as a MotoGP rider. At that time, I decided that I’d take that decision during the following two years. During the last two years I came to the conclusion that I want to continue because racing, being a MotoGP rider, but especially riding my M1, is the thing that makes me feel good.
“Having the opportunity to work with my team, with Silvano, Matteo and all my mechanics, and working with all Japanese engineers, Tsuji-san, and above all Tsuya-san, is a pleasure – I’m happy. I want to thank Yamaha – Lin Jarvis and Maio Meregalli in particular – for their trust in me, because the challenge is difficult: being competitive until I’m 40 years old! I know it’s going to be difficult and it requires a lot of effort from my side and a lot of training but I’m ready, I am not lacking in motivation, that’s why I’m signing for two more years.”
Yamaha Racing boss Lin Jarvis added: “The confirmation of Valentino’s two-year extension of his agreement with Yamaha is a great way to start the 2018 season that kicks off officially on Friday in Qatar. The news may not be a great surprise because Valentino has made it clear that he wanted to continue to race, but the reconfirmation will surely come as welcome news for his millions of fans around the world.
“It was very easy to reach an agreement together – as a factory team we need top riders capable to win and with the total commitment to do what it takes to achieve the goal. Despite his many years in the sport and his 39 years, Vale is as committed today as he ever was and there is no doubt he is still a top rider, as witnessed most recently by his second position in the final pre-season test here in Qatar. Now it is our job as a team and a factory to give him the best possible YZR-M1 to let him fight for race wins and championship success.
“Having both Maverick and Valentino now signed for 2019-20 allows us to just focus all of our energy on the 2018 season and to be strong contenders at every single MotoGP Grand Prix. It promises to be a highly competitive season and like all the fans – we in Yamaha are truly excited to go racing on Sunday night here in Losail.”
The 2018 MotoGP world championship kicks off this Sunday evening with the Grand Prix of Qatar.