News 30 Jan 2020
Rossi to delay 2021 decision until middle of the season
Multi-time world champion assured of factory Yamaha equipment next year.
Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi will make a decision on continuing his career in the middle of the 2020 MotoGP season, although Yamaha has assured the fan-favourite of being equipped with factory machinery in 2021 under a satellite team after being replaced at Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing by Fabio Quartararo.
The Italian legend requested additional time to decide on racing in 2021, with performance in the opening half of the year to be the key factor on whether he races for another season.
Delaying his decision prompted Yamaha to act swiftly in securing youthful sensation Quartararo, who is now signed to a two-year deal that will see him on the factory team alongside Maverick Vinales in 2021 and 2022.
“For reasons dictated by the riders‘ market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future,” said Rossi. “Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn’t want to rush any decision and needed more time. Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations.
“It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021. Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me.
“I‘m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season.”
Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis added: “The totally understandable decision of Valentino to assess his competitiveness in 2020 before making any decision about 2021 was something that Yamaha respects and also wholeheartedly agrees to. While we have total respect for and confidence in Valentino‘s abilities and speed for the 2020 championship – at the same time Yamaha also have to plan for the future.
“These days, with six motorcycle manufacturers in the MotoGP class, fast young talents are greatly in demand, and consequently the riders‘ market begins ever earlier. So, it‘s a weird sensation to start a season knowing that Vale will not be in the factory team in 2021, but Yamaha will still be there for Valentino, whatever he may decide for the future. If he feels confident and continues to race, we will provide a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full engineering support.
“If he decides to retire, we will continue and expand our collaborations off track with the young riders‘ training programmes of the Riders Academy and the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp, and with him as a Yamaha brand ambassador. Anyway, that is all speculation – right now we have a full season ahead of us and I can assure the fans that Valentino will have our 100 percent support every day until he eventually one day decides to hang up his leathers.”
Rossi will be on-track next at the official Sepang test on scheduled for 6-7 February.