Valentino Rossi leaves behind a legacy in MotoGP having been one of the most influential names on both sides of the track. His name will live on the grid with the VR46 team that debuts next year.
Veteran MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has announced his retirement from the premier-class championship at the end of the 2021 season. The rider confirmed that development in a press conference in Austria, ahead of the Styrian GP this weekend, as MotoGP comes back from the summer break. With a career spanning 26 seasons, Rossi is one of the most iconic competitors of the sport with seven premier-class titles and nine world championships to his name across MotoGP, 250 cc and 125 cc.
Announcing his retirement, Valentino Rossi said, “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 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 unforgettable moments with all my guys, the guys who work for me, so… I don’t have a lot to say! Just this.”
Over the course of his 25 year Grand Prix career, Rossi clinched 115 Grand Prix wins including 89 premier class victories, and a fantastic 235 podium stands as of the 2021 Dutch GP. Rossi moved from the factory Yamaha team to the Petronas SRT Yamaha team this year. However, the season hasn’t panned out hoped for the rider with the Italian scoring just 19 points out of the first nine races.
Rumours of Rossi’s retirement were rife since the beginning of the year and were the loudest just before the summer break. It also came at a time when Rossi is will unleash his own VR46 Ducati team in 2022. The 41-year-old made his Grand Prix debut in 1996 in the 125 cc class and was champion in the division the following year before progressing to the 250 cc class in 1998. He won the championship in this division in 1999.
25 years ago today a certain young Italian scored his maiden podium at the #AustrianGP in the 125cc class!
— MotoGP (@MotoGP) August 4, 2021
Rossi made his premier-class debut in 2000 having signed by Honda to a factory-backed satellite NSR500. He dominated the 2001 campaign and won his first of the seven premier-class titles. However, the advent of the four-stroke MotoGP era saw the rider soar as he took the world title in 2002 and 2003 with Honda, before moving to Yamaha in 2004.
After his partnership with HRC soured, the rider found a home with Yamaha taking the championship title in 2005, followed by victories in 2008 and 2009. With Jorge Lorenzo arrived at Yamaha in 2008, it led to friction in the pits and that was evident on the track too. After Rossi broke his leg in 2010, his hopes of another world title ended that year, with Lorenzo going on to win the championship.
Rossi then moved to Ducati in 2011 but that partnership turned out to be disastrous for the rider across the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. But Yamaha was home and the rider made a comeback to the team in 2013. Rossi was back on the podium in 2014 multiple times and also won twice that year, while 2015 saw a heated battle between him and Lorenzo, along with Honda’s Marc Marquez.
— Valentino Rossi (@ValeYellow46) July 27, 2021
Since 2016, Rossi continued to be one of the top riders but the number of wins kept shrinking every year. The rider’s last victory came in the 2017 Dutch GP, while he managed to bag a few podium finishes in the following years. 2021 hasn’t seen the rider on the podium so far.
Beyond the track, Rossi lives on with the VR46 Riders Academy that nurtures young talent and now there’s the VR46 team with Ducati all set to debut next year. Post-retirement, Rossi has been vocal about making his switch to car racing, particularly GT3 racing and even 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will be interesting to see where the rider ends up next. In any case, it’ll be a delight to watch him to do what he does best – race.