Grand prix

Valencia MotoGP: Rossi’s proudest MotoGP achievement, ‘another life’ from Monday | MotoGP

When Valentino Rossi finishes his MotoGP career at Valencia on Sunday afternoon, the nine-time world champion is more likely to be smiling than shedding a tear.

Although the Italian, 42, frequently talks of feeling ‘great emotion’ at the race tracks, he’s never cried in public and doesn’t plan on starting now.

“I don’t know sincerely what happens after Sunday’s race,” said Rossi, bringing the curtain down on 26-years in the world championship.

“I hope to make a good race, arrive at the end and I think I cannot predict my feelings. But usually in all the special moments I laugh and enjoy.

“I don’t cry a lot. My character is like this. I hope not to cry, sincerely!”

Rossi always said that results would determine the end of his racing career, a decision he duly took after failing to meet his own targets during the opening half of 2021 after switching from the factory Yamaha to satellite Petronas team.

“I always imagined this [retirement] press conference and it’s here at Valencia, which is the opposite of a special place for me!” he joked, referring to a circuit where he has won just twice in his career, back in 2003-2004, and twice lost the world championship.

“I have to say it’s a strange feeling. I try to act normal but you always think that from Monday will be different, will be another life.

“I try not to think in this way also because I will continue to race with cars. I will continue as a driver. So I’ll try to enjoy this moment because life will change for sure when you are not a MotoGP rider anymore.”

One of the keys to Rossi’s extraordinary career has been that, in a similar way to Basketball legend Michael Jordan, he has always been immersed in the present rather than dwelling on past success.

But since announcing his retirement plans in August, Rossi has begun to appreciate the wider impact he has had on the sport.

“From Austria in these last months, I can understand better because before I always looked at my career in MotoGP – all the seasons and all the races – from inside,” he explained.

“It’s like you are in a tunnel. I think it’s the same for most riders. It’s very difficult to step back and understand what happens around you. Because you are concentrating on one corner, one sector, one practice, one position.

“Anyway, it’s a great feeling to understand also more from outside. I’m very proud and very happy for sure.

“I think that the most positive thing is that a lot, a lot, a lot of people started to follow MotoGP to follow my career. MotoGP became bigger, better, and more famous around the world.

“It’s good to understand that during my career I became something different. Something like an icon. And this is a great, great pleasure. Even if for a rider it’s always more important what happens on the track. The results.

“But I think this is the best thing of my career because [motorcycle racing] was always my first passion, so to help improve the sport and make a lot of people, young or old people, follow the races is a great feeling.”

When previously asked to pick a song that sums up his career, Rossi amusingly selected ‘never ending story’, a choice he still stands by after questioning whether his time in MotoGP was over after two winless years at Ducati.

“I thought I was very close to the end of my career, especially after 2012. I didn’t know sincerely if I had enough speed, enough power to restart and fight for a championship or win races again. But I raced for another ten years! So I think the never ending story is good,” he said.

After re-joining Yamaha for 2013, Rossi went on to win ten more MotoGP races, celebrate 58 more podiums and battle for the 2015 title until the final round.

And his dream for the future?

“Have a good life, enjoy, I will become a father next year. Anyway, I will remain on the track [with sportscars].

“I don’t have a particular dream. My dream was to become world champion in MotoGP. And it’s okay like this.”

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