For Valentino Rossi, Consistency is the Key

The Doctor arrives in Jerez on top of the World Standings

valentino rossi cota race action 2017
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, Grand Prix of The Americas 2017Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

King Valentino Rossi arrives at Jerez as MotoGP points leader at a historic moment: the 3000th GP of the World Championships. An unexpected result? Not exactly. The Doctor has taken maximum possible points in every race and situation. Experience? Not just that. Valentino continues to impress us with an incredible ability to adapt to change. Through more than 20 years of GP racing he has changed his riding style according to class, bikes, tires, and rivals. After a difficult winter when he seemed outshone by his new teammate Maverick Vinales, rich in motivation and youth (Vinales is 22, 16 years younger than the Doctor), Rossi is again seen as a force to be reckoned with.

On the podium in Qatar, Argentina, and Texas, Vale has not been the fastest but the most consistent. This is not new. In addition, this year he has changed once again his approach; he chases his young rivals through practice, has not won, yet he welcomes his podium finishes with a big smile. This is versatility. In the past, he could not have accepted this, but this is now his strongest point. “When you become old, you have more experience. I can better understand what I need from the bike and the tires. But at the same time you are more detached. For sure 10 years ago I had more courage and was more willing to take risks. Now I try to push the limit but with my head.”

valentino rossi qatar podium 2017
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, Grand Prix of Qatar 2017Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

Does coming to Jerez on top make you feel younger?
"The championship is celebrating 3,000 GPs. I haven't raced them all but almost..."

On Sunday you could win on the Yamaha M1.
"We will try. And then on Monday we will test the new tires and some details that could be really important."

Are you still surprised to be the leader?
"I never expected to arrive at Jerez on top of the standings. I don't want to say that the championship starts here, but... anyway it's important because I did three good races on difficult tracks, especially Austin. I didn't win, but I was consistent. The feeling with the bike has improved a lot and I could attack. Now I like the (2017) M1. It will be difficult to maintain the gap because Maverick Vinales, Marc Marquez, and Dani Pedrosa are very strong."

valentino rossi argentina after race celebration
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina 2017Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

How do you see Jerez?
"Last year it was a perfect weekend: pole, victory, and best lap. But every year it is different and I will try to do a good race."

You have an incredible record of nine wins at this track, seven of which were in the premier class. What is your secret at Jerez?
"I like the track and I know it by heart because we did so many kilometres here when I was racing with Aprilia in the 125cc and 250cc. Exiting turn 8 and entering the stadium on a sunny Sunday in front of thousands of spectators is an incredible feeling. The atmosphere is unique."

Do see the duel between Marquez and Vinales as a key to the championship, with you as third party?
"This seemed to be the story of the first three races, but it's too early to speak. I'm focused on myself. I want to use my experience to do the setup of the machine and work in preparation for the race. I would love to be always faster. In the races I have been quite strong, but I can improve in the practices, although in the first dry qualifying I was on front row. Having fun and doing great races is my target."

valentino rossi argentina team celebration
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina 2017Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

Have you achieved a step forward in setup for the race weekend?
"We didn't change too much from Argentina to Texas and even in Austin I started well. At Le Mans, in the Michelin test we did at the beginning of the week, we didn't change too much in terms of setup and the machine worked well."

Finally, Carmelo Ezpeleta says he is willing to raise the number of bikes on the grid to 25 if you field a team. Does he see you as already retired?
"Maybe in ten years! I want to continue racing as long as I'm competitive. I'm enjoying, so why stop? I still have two years of contract remaining. Then next year during the season I will decide with Yamaha what to do, but till then Yamaha is giving me a bike..."

valentino rossi cota with cowboy hat
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, Grand Prix of The Americas 2017Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha