Valentino Rossi to Retire from MotoGP after 2021by Jack Gaffney August 6, 2021 1 comment
When mentioning the best motorsports athletes of the last quarter-century, Valentino Rossi certainly belongs in that conversation. The Italian sits atop a number of all-time MotoGP/500cc class statistics. Including his seven world titles, and as of now, 89 wins and 199 podiums since moving up in 2000.
The iconic neon No. 46 has been an absolute staple in Grand Prix Motorcycle racing for nearly three decades. However, the sun is setting on the career of the Italian icon. On Tuesday, Rossi, one of the greatest motorcycle riders ever in any discipline, announced that 2021 would be his swan song.
Yamaha Statements from the Top
Most of Rossi’s dominance is tied to the BluCru brigade. He leads the brand in numerous records in MotoGP, the biggest being four titles and 56 wins. His retirement is so big, CEO of Yamaha Motor Co., Yoshihiro Hidaka made a statement. Part of it went as such.
“First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Valentino for the great partnership we enjoyed with him. He will be deeply missed on track, inside the paddock, and behind the scenes at Yamaha, but we fully respect his decision.
Valentino‘s achievements were made both on and off the track, and they make up a large and important part of Yamaha‘s racing heritage. We thank him for his incredible efforts, unequaled skills, and never-failing passion and optimism. We are proud to have been a part of his unique success story. [Yamaha] will forever cherish the precious memories we made together and hope to keep adding to them with him as a Yamaha brand ambassador.”
Yamaha Motor Racing’s director Lin Jarvis added in as well.
“We all knew that eventually the moment would come that Valentino’s illustrious Grand Prix racing career would come to an end. His unparalleled skills and warm charisma will definitely be greatly missed by the fans, the media, the MotoGP paddock, and the entire Yamaha staff. But before he finally hangs up his leathers, we have nine more opportunities to enjoy and savour his appearances at the remaining Grand Prix races of the 2021 season. In that respect it is very fitting that we will see the return of racing fans and spectators at many of the coming races.”
Paddock and Worldwide Reaction
The riders of MotoGP were quick to show their gratitude to “The Doctor” through social media or otherwise. He was a hero to most of the riders who came after him so this comes as no surprise.
Rossi would also be receiving congratulations from just about every corner of the motorsports world, including most Formula 1 teams. Marc Marquez, with who Rossi has had run-ins in the past, was not among that group on Tuesday. The two have had an overall poor relationship over the last half-decade. Rossi exclaimed that Marquez had “destroyed our sport” due to aggressive riding after the 2018 Argentinian GP. However, things have seemed to ease somewhat in recent years.
Beyond MotoGP and Legacy
Rossi has also dipped his toes in various other motorsports disciplines. He ran multiple test sessions for the Ferrari Formula 1 team in the early 2000s. Micheal Schumacher went as far as saying Rossi could hang if he wanted to make the jump to F1. Ultimately he did not, much Schumacher’s disappointment. Years down the road in 2019, he also did a ride swap video with Lewis Hamilton for Monster Energy. Getting the chance to drive a turbo-hybrid Mercedes this time around.
Rossi also had the chance to test a NASCAR Xfinity Car in 2013 in one of Kyle Busch‘s cars. Beyond that, he has dipped his toes in rally and endurance racing in the past. A couple of years ago, he won the Pro-Am class in the Gulf 12 Hours event in the United Arab Emirates. Racing with his half-brother Luca Marini in a Ferrari GT3 car. A jack of all trades if there ever was one.
Rossi now has just 10 races remaining on his illustrious career. He sits way back in this year’s championship hunt in 19th place. However, he will have a chance to say goodbye to his fans that have been with him from the beginning. More importantly, he will get the opportunity to end his career on his terms. In any case, congratulations to Rossi on an iconic career, and best of luck in what comes next. One of the best to ever do it in motorcycle racing.
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
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