The end of an era is nigh and ahead of the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) sat down for a farewell Press Conference before he bows out. 26 seasons and one final Thursday sit down later, here are some key quotes!
How is he feeling?
Valentino Rossi: "It's a particular season especially in the second part after I said it's my last one. The last race is... I want to try and make it normal but it's not possible. It's a great emotion, and already from today to see all the bikes together, all the riders from MotoGP here all together is a great feeling. We'll see! I'll try to give the maximum during the weekend, I hope we can have good weather, especially for Sunday, and we'll see!"
How was it seeing all his title-winning bikes together?
VR46: "I have the bikes at home except the Hondas, I have the Aprilias and Yamahas, the Yamahas are in my house. The 2004 model is in my bedroom. Every morning what I wake up I see the bike, but all together like this is a great emotion. It's a long long way if you look at the first one it's a really long time ago. And if you consider that after the last one there was another ten years... it's a long time and a great emotion."
Announcing retirement vs actually retiring...
VR46: "From Austria when I said it, I had a lot of great messages and support from all the other riders, now, and from the past. All my rivals, this is very good. It was great. I always imagined this Press Conference, and here in Valencia... a special place and the opposite for me, a not special place at the same time. It's strange, a strange feeling but I'll try to act normal because normally Valencia is a good moment for everyone, it means holidays start after a long season, and everyone is ready to stay at home a bit... but you always think that from Monday, it will be different. Another life. I've tried to not think a lot in this way, because I'll also continue to race, with cars as a driver in this case. But I'll try to enjoy it because for sure life when you're not a MotoGP rider anymore will change."
Now it's time to get back out on track, so all that remains is.... GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#GrazieVale: some rider reflections on Thursday
The riders also gave some words about Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as many attended his farewell Press Conference and bike surprise just before the pre-event media sit down.
Fabio Quartararo: "To be honest it’s tough to see, because many people…with the results he’s having he must retire. But I think now all the people that want him to leave now want him to stay. It’s sad, he’s the legend of the sport. He really brings something special. He’s the one who really inspired me as a child, watching him, his celebrations, how he won, his personality, for me, Valentino is the idol of many of us. Yeah, I think everyone needs to congratulate him on his career."
Francesco Bagnaia: "I was lucky to be in MotoGP when he was still racing. And I’m also happy to have won my first race with him on track. I want to thank him for his hard work and the work in the Academy. And I'm lucky to be part of his life, the days we sped together, we train together. I have this type of luck, and it's a tough day today for sure but it's normal this day has arrived and I'm sure all the people will never forget what Vale has done for the Championship."
Joan Mir: " I remember growing up watching that yellow bike winning everywhere and the way he celebrates victories, I remember that. I watched him wining all this and thought this guy was my idol. It’s been a pleasure to be able to ride with him these last three years with him and to be able to win the title when he was on track. Just wishing him the best of luck, he has everything in life to enjoy so that is now what has to do!"
Jack Miller: "Like the boys said, even looking at the bikes down there... I think I have a picture of myself at about 14 sat on the 2009 Championship bike from my first GP at Phillip Island. But like they said, growing up watching it you never think it would be possible to race him or be alongside him. And I was fortunate enough to at one point in my career stand on the podium with him, in Texas I think it was, it's something you don't think would ever, and it did and it was super special. I remember looking back at that thinking it was super cool. Just seeing all those fans’ messages it shows you what he's done for this sport. Super outgoing and a lot of fun but also super aggressive and a dominant rider, and I think that's what really opened it up to the new generation. I don't think any of us would be how we are without him.""
Alex Marquez: "I don't have a really good memory from everything, but I remember the battles with Lorenzo and Pedrosa. I was and am a Pedrosa fan and was pushing for Dani but I remember the battles, really nice, Catalunya...all that when I was a kid. Really special, and it was an honour to share the track with one of these legends like Valentino. Life is like this, one end things end but it continues, so just to say thank you to him for what he's done for motorcycle racing."
Danilo Petrucci: "It's been really nice. I fought with him for his last victory in Assen in 2017, fighting all race, and the fact is that yeah we've raced together for 10 years... fighting for victory, for podiums, for 16th place! A lot of times. I remember my father was a truck driver and when Valentino got his first motorhome in 1997 he came to my house to pick it up, so I've known him a long time before he was Valentino. And then for sure having the chance to be on track with him, share podiums and so may good memories and been something of real pride.."