Valentino Rossi faces his last Grand Prix in Valencia as a professional MotoGP rider. ‘Il dottore’ ends to a long and successful sporting career that began in 1996 and that ends in full sporting decline at 42, after 26 seasons.
And now that? The million dollar question, even for his own Rossi, who confesses that he is somewhat “overwhelmed” by his farewell to the MotoGP paddock, which has been his home since he was a teenager. At this point there are many unknowns but what is more than likely is that the ’46’ will go to four wheels, where it already has some experience in endurance racing as well as in a rally.
‘Vale’ has not yet revealed with which team or in which championship he will make his full-time debut as a driver, although everything indicates that his professional future will be linked to the GT3 endurance category, after competing at the wheel of a Ferrari in the last editions of the 12 Hours of the Gulf, achieving the fourth absolute position and third in its category in the last edition.
In fact, in Portugal, Valentino confirmed that this year he will compete again in this endurance race to be held on January 8 in Abu Dhabi, although he will not take it in a professional way: “In January, as for three years, Uccio, my brother Luca and I will race in Abu Dhabi. From next year I will be a car driver, but I do this race just for fun“, Rossi said, that in 2022 he will debut paternity with his partner, Francesca Sofía Novello.
Rossi’s media coverage has opened the doors to several teams, although the Italian has yet to make up his mind and he has not been able to really assess whether he is capable of competing at the highest level on four wheels. “I have three championships to choose from, and in one there are speed and endurance races. There is the WEC (World Endurance Championship) and the European Le Mans Series, but I don’t know if I’m fast enough,” admits Valentino. “I have good offers, but it is difficult because on motorcycles I know all the teams like the back of my hand, but on cars like a new book. It will depend a lot on the team and car you choose. Of course, my companions will be high-level pilots & rdquor ;, he confirms Valentino.
In 2006 there was speculation about the possibility that Valentino Rossi could go to F1 with Ferrari, but the dream ended up fading among other things because at that time the Italian was at his peak in MotoGP.
Before heading to Valencia, Rossi shared on his social networks a video in which he shows the pilot set that he has installed in his living room, an impressive SIM-LAB cockpit consisting of four screens, Heusinkveld pedals and a Formula CSX 2 steering wheel with which it claims to be “prepared for a long winter” and to guide a new stage in his personal and professional life.
Your fan club will go on
One of the doubts that have already been cleared is the continuity of the Valentino Fan Club, based in Tavullia. Flavio fratesi, one of the founders and current vice president anticipated the company’s plans in an interview with GPOne.com: “Before the pandemic, we had three times as many affiliates as when Vale won: in 2008 we had 6,000 and we have gone to 18,000. Normally, In sport, the less you earn, the more you lose, but for us it was the opposite. It was a beautiful testimony from the fans who love Valentino and, consequently, from his Fan Club, regardless of the results. Let’s continue and we have many actions prepared, “he explained.
The Academy and VR46
If you are proud of something Rossi, in addition to its nine world crowns, it is the quarry of Italian pilots that has promoted its Academy and its VR46 team. Talents such as the last two MotoGP runners-up, Bagnaia and Morbidelli, have come from there, as well as his brother Luca and many of the riders who have triumphed in recent seasons in the lower categories of Moto2 and Moto3. Next year, Rossi You will be able to dedicate more time to training and working with the youth at your ‘Ranch’ in Tavullia. He will also be able to get directly involved in the management of his new MotoGP team, which will feature two Ducati motorcycles, although the sponsorship and details of the project remain up in the air after Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud pledged the support of Aramco, which ultimately did not materialize.
Goodbye in Valencia
One of the most ‘touched’ by Valentino’s retirement is his inseparable friend, assistant and VR46 manager Alessio Salucci, ‘Uccio’: “The more races have been passed and the closer to the end, the darker I get, it will be a great effort. I think Vale is going through the same situation as me. Sunday in Valencia will be very hard, you have to live it as quickly as possible. Run, cross the finish line and go. Car, airport and go, “he says. But Uccio is convinced that one day not too far away we will see the Tavullia champion on a MotoGP prototype, perhaps as a wild card.” Somehow we will see him again on the track somewhere and in the future he will ride a MotoGP in Misano again, I’m sure, “he said days ago at La Gazzetta dello Sport.