Valentino Rossi InterviewAt 34-years old, Valentino Rossi is the only current rider to have competed throughout the entire modern era of MotoGP, which began in 2002 following the 500cc era.
But his time in World Championship competition goes even further back to 1996, the year he joined the 125cc class with Aprilia. Rossi would go onto to win nine world championships, including seven in the premier class.The 2013 year was a unique one for Rossi fans, considering the Italian rejoined the factory Yamaha squad following two sour years with Ducati. During those Ducati years (2011-2012), Rossi didn’t achieve a single win, and only stood upon the podium three times.But following his return to Yamaha for 2013 MotoGP, Rossi immediately returned to the podium, taking second at the season opener in Qatar. He would also take one win of 2013 MotoGP at Assen, which was his 80th premier-class victory. When the season wrapped up, Rossi would finish fourth.MotoGP.com recently caught up with Rossi for a Q&A. During the interview, Rossi reflects on 2013 MotoGP, and the passing of fellow countryman and former WOrld Championship racer Doriano Romboni.Q. Valentino, 2013 was a season of highs and lows. On Wednesday night you had a chance to recall all of the memories at the Yamaha event in Milan…Valentino Rossi says: “Yeah, it was a good evening and a good night to all be together and have a think back about the year; some good moments and some good videos to watch. I would like to say that it was a very good season with a lot of good races, but we did indeed have some highs and lows.“This year was difficult, for sure, and at the end of the season I had hoped to be more competitive and to be fighting for podiums; unfortunately, sometimes we pushed too hard and I wasn’t able to, but we will try again next year.”Q. What is the Valentino Rossi target for 2014?Valentino Rossi says: “First of all, we will now relax and recharge the batteries to be ready for next year [smiles]. The target is to try and do better: try to be on the podium more, try to win some races and see where we are at the end of the season.“There have been rumors about retirement, but you have since mentioned in the press that there was a misunderstanding…“It was not really a misunderstanding! It was very clear, but they put the news in the right way to (create) some rumors! I have another year of contract and in my heart I want to continue after next year, with another contract of two years; but I have to be competitive, so I will decide next year.”Q. Have you requested anything special from Yamaha, in terms of the bike?Valentino Rossi says: “To work together with Yamaha in order to fix the problem and adapt the M1 more to my riding style. This is the target with Yamaha and they also have a lot of motivation to try their best for me to be able to try and stay at the front. I can’t wait! We will see, but that is the target: to improve the bike and make it more suitable for me.“And it is always good to have a teammate like Jorge Lorenzo in the garage – and he has said that he feels ‘blessed’ to be working alongside you…“[Laughs] I think we are a very good team! Sincerely, the atmosphere this year was very good and so was the relationship between Jorge and I. He is one of the best…for me, now, he is the best. This year he did something great, even though he didn’t win the championship, so I am very happy to be in the same team; it is always a great fight and it is always great to try and raise our level.Q. Last week we saw you launching the new Team Sky-VR46 Moto3 squad, with riders Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia, at your ‘ranch’ in Italy. There seems to be plenty of enthusiasm about the project!Valentino Rossi says: “Yeah! The project started first of all as an academy for the young riders and it is a great project because we enjoy it a lot. We have good organization and we are trying to help some young Italian riders to get to the top. Secondly, the team idea came along.“At the beginning we were very worried – and we are still worried [laughs] – but it is a good project and the people enjoy it a lot. We have put together a good team with a lot of experience and we will try to help Fenati and Bagnaia to arrive in a good position for next year.”Q. What is the plan for holidays?Valentino Rossi says: “Nothing special! I like snowboarding a lot, so I will go to the mountains over the winter, do some snowboarding and be with my friends but it will all be very, very relaxed.”Q. Sadly, the year has ended on a tragic note with the death of Doriano Romboni…Valentino Rossi says: “Sincerely, what happened to Doriano left me with no words – for different reasons. First of all, Doriano was like a hero to me when I was young; in the first years of the 90s, I followed MotoGP™ a lot and the 250 class was very famous; especially in Italy because we had (Max) Biaggi, (Loris) Capirossi and Romboni together.“I was a great fan of Doriano and I was lucky to know him very well, as he was a good friend of (my father) Graziano. He was always very sweet and very gentle with me, as I was ten at the time. Also, the whole accident was just unbelievable…to lose a life in a race which was run to remember Marco (Simoncelli). A lot of things together left me with no words so I’m very, very sad.”
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.