While race fans all over the world wait in anticipation for the new MotoGP season to begin, Monster Energy Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi teamed up from their respective homes to have a lighthearted, fun, insightful, and at times serious chat with Matt Birt.
Fans were given the opportunity to send their questions to the Factory Yamaha’s social media channels, with the best ones picked out for the two riders.
Rossi and his plans for 2021, Vinales and the importance of providing help for hospitals, Rossi’s thoughts on Jorge Lorenzo becoming the team’s test rider, and much more was discussed.
One of the biggest stories heading into 2021 is Rossi’s future. With the Italian being replaced by French star Fabio Quartararo, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the nine-time world champion.
However, during the interview Rossi was quick to confirm his intention which is to race, saying: “The problem is no racing! So with the news as it is we cannot race, I think that I will have to decide before racing because in the most optimistic situation we can race in the second half of the season, so around August or September, we do if everything is good.”
“But I have to make my decision before. I want to continue but I have to make a decision without any races.”
“It is not the best way to stop as the situation is maybe we also don’t race in 2020. It is fairer to make another championship and maybe stop at the end of the next. I hope to continue in 2021.”
Yamaha were quickest in winter testing and along with Suzuki looked in great shape for the first round in Qatar.
If Rossi is competitive when racing finally gets underway and wants to continue, there is sure to be a teams interested with Petronas Yamaha being the likely option.
When Birt asked the pair about the importance of key workers who are spending time away from their families in order to help those in need, Rossi said: “The situation is difficult for everybody in all the world, but for sure for some people it’s more difficult – especially the people who work on the frontline.“
“So, for them, [lockdown] is not just boring, it’s also dangerous to try to help save a lot of lives. So, a big support from me, a big virtual hug and you are our heroes in this period. Thanks a lot and don’t give up.”
Vinales seconded what Rossi said and when asked about donating to hospitals, something Vinales has been heavily involved in, the Spaniard added: “For me it was important because if someone had the chance to do [donate tests], and for example if my grandfather got sick because something went wrong, and I lost him and someone could have done [something] and didn’t do it, I would get very angry,”
“So, there was no way [I couldn’t]. I do it for my town, for my people, and also my family because they are from there.
“But we also try to help some hospitals in Gerona and Figueres, where I was born, trying to give them material, trying to supply them with everything. Every little thing is good for everyone, so for sure I try to help them.”
One of the biggest rider changes in 2020, was in the form of a test rider signing, as Lorenzo made a return to the team he won three world championships with.
After retiring at the end of last season with Repsol Honda, Lorenzo has returned to the Factory Yamaha team as the official test rider, and Rossi spoke about this after being rivals for many years.
“For me, I think Jorge after the years at Ducati in, but especially last year with Honda, was a little bit like me after 2011 and 2012 after two very difficult seasons with Ducati, where I never had a good feeling with the bike and [scored] bad results.”
“And every time I tried to push more, I’d crash. I crashed a lot of times during these seasons and I always lost the feeling.”
“And you say ‘it’s over, stop, it’s time to stay at home’. But after Jorge jumped on the M1, already after the first day he rediscovered that feeling riding again.”
“He pushed, and when he pushed he didn’t crash. So, I think he can think to come back to [MotoGP] with Yamaha in the future, but I don’t know if he has enough motivation.”
With racing not imminent at this current juncture, it remains to be seen what level of racing we get in 2020, as half a season has been identified as a possible outcome for later in the year.
Below is the full version of the interview.