Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi said ‘Ciao’ to his Italian fans with a top 10 in his final MotoGP race at Misano World Circuit on Sunday.
The Petronas rider was pleased with his performance, and even more so of the support and celebrations received in his honour throughout the weekend, despite the young pretender who stole his factory ride securing the world championship on Sunday afternoon.
“I'm happy about today,” Rossi said after the excitement had subsided. "Especially because I did a decent race, and is the best way to say ‘Ciao’ because I don't want to make a bad race and stay behind. I try to stay concentrate and starting from the back of the grid is always difficult. But I feel good, with the bike and with the tyres. I know that if it's full dry, my potential is better and I was able to make some overtaking, to make some battle to the last lap and at the end I arrive in the top 10.
“Is the best way to say ‘Ciao’ to the crowd, because have a fantastic atmosphere around the track. A lot of people, a lot of fans, and the sunny day, so I'm happy. It was good and was very, very emotional.
“Usually I don't like the surprises,” the legendary racer explained, referring to the special livery seen across the Sky VR46 Moto2 and MotoGP bikes on Sunday - including his younger brother Luca Marini’s.
"I want to know everything but this was a great surprise and I saw this morning for the first time. I didn't know, for me was a surprise and I'm very happy to say thank you to Uccio, to all my team, to Sky, because it was yellow with 'Grazie Vale’. I like a lot.
“I try to enjoy all this moment,” he continued. “Because a lot of my good friends, my close friends say to me ‘Enjoy! Go out, enjoy because Sunday would be great and you deserve this visual hug from all the fans'. I tried to do like this but I want to make a good race. I want to try to ride to my maximum, and try to do a good result. So I'm very, very happy, especially for this and was a great emotion after the flag to stop and I enjoy a lot.”
Rossi has commented many times about his concerns regarding Pecco Bagnaia’s choice of tyres this season, with the Ducati rider himself admitting that both for Austria and Silverstone he made wrong decisions which ultimately put paid to his title fight. Sunday was Bagnaia’s final chance to keep his dream alive and, in Rossi’ opinion, another wrong choice.
“For me the hard front was too dangerous today,” he said simply. “I tried to say to Pecco, but at the end, they put, and the hard front is like this. Unfortunately, in the last part of the race the temperature going down and have less sun, less temperature and the hard front is like this. When if the temperature go below, the tyre give up and you crash and can do nothing. So it's a great shame. Is a great shame because Pecco was the faster today, during the weekend, he can win, he can keep open the championship. At the end is a big shame, yes. I raced with the medium front and the medium front, was very good.
“I tried to make the same like in Aragon. I tried to hypnotise Pecco, to say to put medium, medium, medium, but this time doesn't work!”
Reflecting on the other big event of the day - Fabio Quartararo becoming MotoGP World Champion - Rossi was pleased for both the Frenchman and his old team, despite wishing he was still a part of the Monster Energy squad himself.
“The time pass and sincerely, I think that is the right choice to have Quartararo in the factory team,” he said honestly before continuing, “but maybe it's not a very good choice to don't have me in the factory team for the last year!" he laughed.
"But, anyway, Quartararo deserves the championship. He ride always very fast. He never make any mistakes. So I think that he deserve the championship and I'm very happy for him and also for Yamaha.
“Pecco did a fantastic season, I'm a little bit angry with him today because I think that if he put the medium front, he can win because he was the faster, but this is what I think. He had a great chance to keep open the championship, is any way difficult but to bring in Portugal is important but anyway, is like these. I think that, Pecco Franco and also Luca will be very strong next year.”