Motorcycle racing legend Valentino Rossi will complete his astounding 15-year run with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team at the end of the 2020 MotoGP season.
Following discussions between Yamaha and Rossi, the Italian will take until mid-2020 to make the final call whether he will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021. This time frame was requested by Rossi to evaluate his competitive speed compared to the MotoGP grid only after completing the first seven or eight races of the season.
Should Rossi decide to continue as a MotoGP rider in 2021, Yamaha assures Rossi of the availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. engineering support.
Irrespective of the decisions for the future, Yamaha will provide full support and total focus for the 2020 season as Rossi commences his 25th motorcycle MotoGP season, his 21st in the premier class, and his 15th year with Yamaha.
“For reasons dictated by the riders’ market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future,” Rossi explained. “Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn’t want to rush any decision and needed more time. Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations.
“It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021,” Rossie continued. “Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me. I’m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season.”
With 24 Grand Prix seasons under his belt and still competitive at the age of 40, Rossi is a living MotoGP legend. He equals Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali, who both also wrote nine titles to their names in all classes, only Giacomo Agostini and Angel Nieto have more.
With 56 wins from 243 races, “The Doctor” remains the most successful Yamaha racer of all time. Moreover, he is the only rider to win premier class titles on five different types of motorcycles (500cc 4-cylinder two-stroke, 990cc 5-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 990cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 800cc 4-cylinder four-stroke and a Yamaha 1000cc 4-cylinder four-stroke).