Thailand's Chang International Circuit is a new addition to the MotoGP calendar. Beginning this Friday, the 2.83-mile Hermann Tilke-designed track opened in 2014 near Buriram will host the second official three-day preseason test.

The atmosphere at the circuit is already hot and not just due to the tropical weather in this part of the world. With the contracts of the top riders expiring at the end of this year, speculation around Valentino Rossi's future is once again the top headline.

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi on board for 2019? “We are in close contract,” Yamaha’s Lin Jarvis said about the nine-time world champ. “We’ve talked to each other already. We decided that we’d like to see a few tests at least under the belt before making a decision—maybe a few races.”Courtesy of Yamaha

“Valentino has already signed for one year with an option for 2020,” Carlo Pernat, a prominent figure in the Grand Prix paddock, declared on Italian TV. “I give this information as official.”

Rossi has said that he plans to wait until after the first few races before making a final decision. Pernat also noted he expects Rossi to eventually have teams in all three world championship classes—MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3.

Regarding the rumors, Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis acknowledged Rossi declared earlier this week in the Philippines his desire to continue racing. “He may decide to do a one-year contract,” Jarvis said, “or perhaps a two-year contract.

“I was very curious to read Carlo Pernat’s comments. I prepare the contracts so I can assure you nothing is done at the moment, but I would imagine it won’t be too long until Valentino’s situation is clarified. I fully expect him to be with us again on the grid next year.”

Maverick Viñales has already signed with Yamaha for two more years. "Maverick expressed a desire to decide his future to relieve himself of that pressure," Jarvis said. "Being just 23 years of age, he is somebody we definitely wanted to keep. We see a long career for him."

Upon arriving in Buriram, Rossi said, “We will get to try the Chang circuit for three days, and this will be a very interesting test for us. This part of the season is always important to understand which direction we should work in to be competitive from the very first race.”

On Friday, a 39-year-old Rossi will be back on track fully focused and motivated as he has done from the past 22 seasons. As he said recently, “Age is a number.” Happy birthday, Valentino.