Valentino Rossi Will Decide His Racing Future After The Grand Prix Of The Americas

“What I need is a competitive Yamaha. I really want to improve, have fun, and win”

Rossi at Sepang
Valentino Rossi completed the second day of the three-day preseason MotoGP test at the Sepang International Circuit with the second-quickest lap time, a 1:59.390, which was 0.108 second quicker than he qualified at the Malaysian track last October for round 17 of the championship.Photo courtesy of Yamaha

America's appointment with "The Doctor" at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, is scheduled for April 22. Valentino Rossi says he will decide at that time if he is going to continue racing next year in MotoGP.

Before this week’s three-day test kicked off at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, Rossi said, “Let’s see how the winter test and especially the first three races of Qatar, Argentina, and Texas go. If I am competitive, I will continue.”

The off-season work done in the gym, on the snowboard, skiing, and at his ranch in Italy has paid off handsomely for Rossi, who arrived at Sepang looking fit and motivated for the first appointment of the 2018 MotoGP season.

“The age is not a problem,” affirmed the nine-time world champion, who will turn 39 on February 16. “Motivation is the key. I need to understand if I still want to wake up every day and train as hard as I did in the past years—this winter included.”

After the first day of testing, during which he posted the sixth-quickest lap time, Rossi said, “I don’t remember such a positive test session in 2017. I’m really optimistic. I’m happy that we have the 2016 base.”

On day 2 Rossi improved to second overall, just 0.035 of a second behind teammate Maverick Viñales. “Lap times come easy,” he admitted. “This is what makes me really happy. I can do the lines I like, turn when I want, and when I push, lap times go down.”

Maverick Vinales
Rossi’s factory Yamaha teammate, 23-year-old Maverick Viñales, announced last week that he will race at least two more years for the Japanese manufacturer. “We’ve been working especially on the electronics,” he said at Sepang test. “We tried to work in hot conditions, especially around mid-day, and we’ll follow the same plan for the final day.”Photo courtesy of Yamaha

The new YZR-M1 with its 2016-based chassis passed its initial exam. “The main problem last year was excessive tire consumption,” Rossi said, “but in this regard the first test is encouraging. With a used tire, I was able to also be fast after 15 laps.

“It’s possible that we will get an evolution [of the new bike] before the first round. The Valencia test was crucial to decide the direction to follow, and I’m really happy. Once the bike’s DNA is correct, we can fine-tune the details.”

A new fairing also provided expected results. “It has more downforce on the front,” Rossi said. “In certain conditions, riding becomes less physically demanding.” A race simulation is possible. “If I have the energy and we will have tested all the things we have planned, it would be great.”