Valentino Rossi retiring from MotoGP
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.
Rossi Highlights Reel
“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!”
Reactions on Twitter
Still strange to hear the news that Vale will eventually retire, been an amazing journey and he has been the very best role model and ambassador for the sport.
There is one thing that we know, he won’t be wearing dodgy haute couture and taking selfies in his Lamborghini thank F* https://t.co/CPPzzIbQyN
— Jeremy McWilliams (@McWill99) August 5, 2021
I retired from racing, got to commentate your amazing career from the sidelines. Thank you for the entertainment and enjoy the next phase of your life @valeyellow46 🙌🏽 #notmanylikeyou #nextgeneration #motogp #dorna https://t.co/09iFUg1S8l
— Daryl Beattie (@DB_Adventures) August 5, 2021
VR spectating at the TT for the first (and so far only) time. Middle of June. He was feeling the cold having flown in from Italy, wrapped up in jacket and scarf. Across the road was a hardy biker – top off, beer in hand. Noticing him Valentino asked “Why he naked?” 🤣 https://t.co/FXCNULBam7
— Paul Phillips (@PaulPhillips_TT) August 5, 2021
MotoGP rivals reactions at press conference
“It’s difficult to believe because you know he was already two time World Champion and I was still not born, and we are still racing with him and imagine that next year he will not be racing. It is kind of sad you know, he’s really the guy that makes me want to be a MotoGP rider. When I was a kid watching him, waiting hours in front of the hospitality to get the picture and then for me, yes, he’s the legend of the sport, he made an amazing career and I think that he’s a legend, still my idol and yeah I have no words to describe him.”
“It will be strange but thanks to Vale for what he gave because I think he changed the vision of the motorbike during the 2000s until now and when you speak about motorbike with someone that doesn’t know anything, he can just tell you Valentino Rossi so it really means something. We were expecting that there will be a day that he will say stop and it’s coming and it came. Just amazing because he stayed such a long time, we could watch him on TV and he became the idol and then we could race with him. I think there are not so many sportsmen like that. So thanks for what he gave, and I think the way he was racing will remain always his way, because it was always with a different approach I would say, more than most of the others.”
“I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to race with Vale for this for two years, three. I probably was more nervous than him when he was given the news! It’s a difficult moment because it looks like this moment never arrives for a rider. I’m for sure he has everything to go and enjoy a lot the life and I’m so happy for him. There was a question that a journalist was asking him if he feels like Michael Jordan of the basketball and for sure he’s the Michael Jordan of the motorbikes. It will be difficult to repeat another Valentino Rossi in history, so wishing him a lot of luck I would hope to see him in the next seasons around the paddock.”
“He was my point of reference when I was a kid. You know when I started to love that passion of motorcycle was, especially when I start to see Valentino with his celebration the way he win the races, so at the end, as a kid I grew up I had the opportunity to share the team with him, and for sure to be internally sharing the data, sharing comments everything and you know I had the chance to learn, this is the most important. Valentino is more than an icon more than a legend, my idol. He’s the point of reference since I was three years old now and yeah, it’s sad. We need to say thank you to him because he grew MotoGP a lot and also was an inspiration for me so in the end you know as I said I was very lucky to share the team with him for many years and also you know sometimes they fight against him, other times to enjoy the time with him and was a very enjoyable time. I remember Malaysia, Indonesia, these long events where we could talk a little bit more outside of the bikes. For me what it remains also is that outside of the bike he’s always a great person and I think as Joan said, he is the point of the bikes. We need to be very thankful to him.”
“It’s hard to add anything else but I think like many of us Valentino has been a reference since we were kids. It’s easy when we were kids to relate to Valentino because everyone wants to support the winner or who is winning, and I think really the turning point that makes him a sort of more of a legend was the turning point and after that those many titles 2009, 2010 when he moved to Ducati and when he came back to Yamaha, people still loved him even if it was not winning, even if the results weren’t great and I think only at that time we could see really the greatness of Valentino and the image power he had the influence he had on the MotoGP paddock. It was a privilege to share the race track with him.”
“I think coming back is a great story to be able to go in into the Petronas SRT team as his teammate for the weekend he announces his retirement, but yeah as all of the guys said watching him, since even when I was young and I’m you know, he was racing Grand Prix, I was racing British championship but enjoying watching him. Then when I finally came to Yamaha he was in Yamaha and then went to Ducati and came back to Yamaha. I remember one night going to the motorhome one night he asked me if I was ready to battle next year, and we did. We battled in so many races that year in 2013 and it was good fun. He’s incredible, what he’s done for the sport, as Johann said, no matter where you are in the world, when you say motorbikes they just say Valentino Rossi. He is just one fo those great sporting icons. I stopped at 35 years old, I could not go on for another 7 years, his motivation to be fast is incredible. He is going faster than he’s ever been before a lot of these tracks, now to be able to do that is incredible, it just shows that physically wise he’s in great shape to be able to do it and also the mentality of being able to perform and keep going fast, he never stops learning. To be in the sport with him at the same time, being there at the same manufacturer and now a teammate at one of the races, it’s been good.”
“It’s sad, it’s something you never want to happen and especially when you’re on a high level like he has been for so long. Like in my case, it’s a sad day but it’s something you can’t stop… sooner or later it happens for everyone, but in his case it’s more special because of so many good memories with him. Personally I can only have huge respect because he was here before me, I tried to catch him, we battled for many years, I’d say in our prime, and then I retired and I see him still going! So huge respect, and I wish him the best in his retirement.”