Valentino Rossi: Motorcycling legend rides off into the sunset
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Motorcycling legend and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi confirmed on Thursday he will retire at the end of the season after 26 years lighting up the sport.
The 42-year-old Italian signed a one-season deal with Yamaha-SRT for this campaign and it had been mooted he might ride for his own team next term.
However, he told a press conference ahead of this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix that he will call it a day, 12 years on from his last MotoGP title.
“I have decided to stop at the end of the season,” said Rossi.
“It’s been a very long trip but really great fun.”
“It’s a very sad moment because it’s difficult to say and know that next year I will not race with a motorcycle, I’ve done that for I think more or less 30 years.”
Valentino Rossi will finish his career with seven premier class world titles – just one behind the all-time record of eight held by compatriot Giacomo Agostini.
He has competed in 423 grands prix races – 363 in the top class.
Recent years have seen the man nicknamed “The Doctor” combine competing with ownership of the his own VR46 team, helping to bring on young riders in Moto2 and Moto3 and next season he will be free to concentrate on that mentor role.
Warm praise for his stellar career came from rivals, including French star Fabio Quartararo, his successor at the Yamaha factory team who leads this year’s title race.
“I have no words… Big congratulations for your amazing career! I’ll remember all my life the first race I ever watch you in Jerez 2005 and you motivated me to be where I am today,” tweeted Quartararo.
Valentino Rossi won top category world crowns in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, having started off with a 125cc crown in 1997 before adding a 250cc title two years later.
In all Rossi made 235 podiums, 199 of them in the premier category and scored 115 victories – 89 in MotoGP/500 cc, 14 in 250 cc and a further 12 in the 125 cc category, while he piled up 65 pole positions.
After his first 125cc race at Malaysia in 1996 he lost little time in scoring a first win that same year in the Czech Republic before advancing to the premier category in 2000, landing his first success at that level at the British Grand Prix that same season.
His last triumph came in the Netherlands in 2017 – a record 20 years and 311 days after his maiden 125 win.
But this season has seen him slide down the pecking order with Yamaha-SRT, as he currently lies 19th in the ranking with just 17 points, leading him to call it a day at year-end having only managed a sole podium last season.
“Valentino is a living legend whose successes and personal flair contributed to Yamaha’s legacy and heritage in abundance,” said Yamaha managing director Lin Jarvis.
“Also, during more difficult periods, his positive mindset would be a boost to those around him, and he was always ready to go the extra mile for a good result.”
Valentino Rossi will leave motorcycling with a host of records to his name:
– With 423 starts in all categories since 1996 and with 10 more on his schedule before the end of this season, Rossi is the sport’s marathon man having competed for 26 seasons.
– Twenty years and 311 days separated his first win in the 125cc class in the Czech Republic in 1996 and his most recent victory in 2017 in the Netherlands in MotoGP.
– Sixteen years and 351 days separated his first win in the elite class of the sport in Great Britain in 2000 and his most recent in the Netherlands in 2017, another record.
– Rossi has 89 wins in 500cc/MotoGP, more than Giacomo Agostini (68) and Marc Marquez (57).
– He has the record for most podiums at 199 in the top category compared to 114 and 112 for Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa respectively.
– The 42-year-old has clocked up 76 fastest laps in 500cc/MotoGP against 69 for Agostini and 57 for Marquez.
– In all, the nine-time world champion has 235 podiums in the sport, including 115 victories, 67 second places and 53 third places, 65 pole positions and 96 best laps.
Factfile on Valentino Rossi who announced on Thursday that he would retire from MotoGP at the end of the season. The Italian won nine world titles in his 26-year career.
Name: Valentino Rossi
Nickname: The Doctor
Race number: 46
Date of birth: Feb. 16 1979
Place of birth: Urbino, Italy
Results in 26 seasons in Grand Prix motorcycle racing:
World Championship titles: 9 (6 in MotoGP in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, 1 in 500cc in 2001, 1 in 250cc in 1999, 1 in 125cc in 1997)
423 Grands Prix contested (363 in MotoGP or 500cc, 30 in 250cc, 30 in 125cc)
235 podiums (199 in MotoGP or 500cc, 21 in 250cc, 15 in 125cc)
115 wins (89 in MotoGP or 500cc, 14 in 250cc, 12 in 125cc)
65 pole positions (55 in MotoGP or 500cc, 5 in 250cc, 5 in 125cc)
96 fastest race laps (76 in MotoGP or 500cc, 11 in 250cc, 9 in 125cc)
First GP: Malaysia 1996 (125cc)
First win: Czech Republic 1996 (125cc)
First premier class GP: South Africa 2000 (500cc)
First win in the premier class: Great Britain 2000 (500cc)
Last win: Netherlands 2017 (MotoGP)
2021: MotoGP (Yamaha-SRT), 17 points, 19th in rider standings, ongoing
2020: MotoGP (Yamaha), 1 podium, 66 points, 15th
2019: MotoGP (Yamaha), 2 podiums, 174 points, 7th
2018: MotoGP (Yamaha), 5 podiums, 1 pole, 198 points, 3rd
2017: MotoGP (Yamaha), 6 podiums including 1 win, 208 points, 5th
2016: MotoGP (Yamaha), 10 podiums including 2 wins, 3 poles, 249 points, 2nd
2015: MotoGP (Yamaha), 15 podiums including 4 wins, 1 pole, 325 points, 2nd
2014: MotoGP (Yamaha), 13 podiums including 2 wins, 1 pole, 295 points, 2nd
2013: MotoGP (Yamaha), 6 podiums including 1 win, 237 points, 4th
2012: MotoGP (Ducati), 2 podiums, 163 points, 6th
2011: MotoGP (Ducati), 1 podium, 139 points, 7th
2010: MotoGP (Yamaha), 10 podiums including 2 wins, 1 pole, 233 points, 3rd
2009: MotoGP (Yamaha), 13 podiums including 6 wins, 7 poles, 306 points, 1st
2008: MotoGP (Yamaha), 16 podiums including 9 wins, 2 poles, 373 points, 1st
2007: MotoGP (Yamaha), 8 podiums including 4 wins, 4 poles, 241 points, 3rd
2006: MotoGP (Yamaha), 10 podiums including 5 wins, 5 poles, 247 points, 2nd
2005: MotoGP (Yamaha), 16 podiums including 11 wins, 5 poles, 367 points, 1st
2004: MotoGP (Yamaha), 11 podiums including 9 wins, 5 poles, 304 points, 1st
2003: MotoGP (Honda), 16 podiums including 9 wins, 9 poles, 357 points, 1st
2002: MotoGP (Honda), 15 podiums including 11 wins, 7 poles, 355 points, 1st
2001: 500cc (Honda), 13 podiums including 11 wins, 4 poles, 325 points, 1st
2000: 500cc (Honda), 10 podiums including 2 wins, 209 points, 2nd
1999: 250cc (Aprilia), 12 podiums including 9 wins, 5 poles, 309 points, 1st
1998: 250cc(Aprilia), 9 podiums including 5 wins, 201 points, 2nd
1997: 125cc (Aprilia), 13 podiums including 11 wins, 4 poles, 321 points, 1st
1996: 125cc(Aprilia), 2 podiums including 1 win, 1 pole, 111 points, 9th