Valentino Rossi will continue to race until at least the end of the 2020 MotoGP season after agreeing a new two-year contract extension with Yamaha.
The Italian’s current contract was due to expire at the end of 2018, however there had been plenty of speculation that the 39-year-old would continue for at least another year. His new contract means that Rossi will be competing at the highest level of motorcycle racing beyond his 40th birthday.
Speaking about his new contract, the nine-time world champion said:
“When I signed my last contract with Yamaha, in March 2016, I wondered if that would have been the last contract as a MotoGP rider. At that time, I decided that I‘d take that decision during the following two years. During the last two years I came to the conclusion that I want to continue because racing, being a MotoGP rider, but especially riding my M1, is the thing that makes me feel good.
“Having the opportunity to work with my team, with Silvano, Matteo and all my mechanics, and working with all Japanese engineers, Tsuji-san, and above all Tsuya-san, is a pleasure – I‘m happy. I want to thank Yamaha – Lin Jarvis and Maio Meregalli in particular – for their trust in me, because the challenge is difficult: being competitive until I‘m 40 years old! I know it‘s going to be difficult and it requires a lot of effort from my side and a lot of training but I‘m ready, I am not lacking in motivation, that‘s why I‘m signing for two more years.”
Despite his age, Rossi continues to challenge at the sharp end of the field, winning the Dutch Grand Prix in 2017. He has also finished as runner-up in three of the previous four seasons, with a broken leg and issues with his Yamaha leading to a fifth place finish overall in 2017.
Rossi has won four rider’s titles with the factory Yamaha team, achieving 56 race wins along the way. The managing director of Yamaha, Lin Jarvis, is delighted that Rossi’s new contract has been confirmed and he is now focused on the task at hand this season. He commented:
“The confirmation of Valentino‘s two-year extension of his Agreement with Yamaha is a great way to start the 2018 season that kicks off officially on Friday in Qatar. The news may not be a great surprise because Valentino has made it clear that he wanted to continue to race, but the reconfirmation will surely come as welcome news for his millions of fans around the world.
“It was very easy to reach an agreement together – as a Factory Team we need top riders capable to win and with the total commitment to do what it takes to achieve the goal. Despite his many years in the sport and his 39 years, Vale is as committed today as he ever was and there is no doubt he is still a top rider, as witnessed most recently by his second position in the final pre-season test here in Qatar. Now it is our job as a team and a factory to give him the best possible YZR-M1 to let him fight for race wins and championship success.”
Rossi’s teammate throughout his new contract will be Maverick Vinales, with the Spaniard already reaching an agreement to remain with Yamaha until the end of 2020.
The 2018 MotoGP seasons gets underway this weekend in Qatar.