Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi announced that he would be bringing down the curtain on his decorated 25-year career at the end of the current season. The 42-year-old Italian, who has 115 victories to his name, is the only rider to have won the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc, and MotoGP world championships.
Speaking at the pre-race press conference at the Styrian GP, Rossi said, “I have decided to stop at the end of the season. Unfortunately, this will be my last half season as a MotoGP rider. It is a very sad moment because it’s difficult to say and know that next year I will not race with a motorcycle. Next year, my life will change. But it was great, I’ve enjoyed it very much, it’s been a long, long journey and it was really, really fun, and I have had unforgettable moments with all my guys.”
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Rossi, who made his debut in the 1996 season in the 125cc Championship, took his first win that year too, at the Czech Republic, with the Aprilla team. Rossi went on to win his first 125cc championship the following season with Aprilla. He switched to the 250cc championship the next season and won the 1999 World Championship. Since 2000, Rossi has been racing in the MotoGP World Championship, where he has gone on to win seven more titles (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009) with Honda and Yamaha, respectively. Since his last championship with Yamaha in 2009, although he had two competitive runners-up seasons in 2014 and 2016, it has been a challenging ride for the Italian over the last few years, and he hasn’t won a race since the 2017 Dutch Grand Prix. Currently racing with Yamaha, after a short stint with Ducati in between, Rossi languishes in 19th position in the 2021 championship standings with 17 points to his name.
Rossi, who is the only rider to have competed in more than 400 Grand Prix, didn’t rule out saying complete goodbye to racing. Rossi has been vocal about his desire to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and has also raced in go-karts and run test laps in Formula One as well, alongside Michael Schumacher for Ferrari back in 2006. So, even though The Doctor is bidding goodbye to his two-wheel racing career, we might not have seen the last of him on a racing track!