Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi will enjoy a second farewell to his Italian fans at his favoured home Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli this weekend.
The Petronas rider is just three races away from calling time on his illustrious MotoGP career, with the ongoing global pandemic, and subsequent cancellations, providing the opportunity for two farewell races at his local track. Rossi endured a difficult weekend throughout last month’s visit, qualifying and finishing towards the back of the pack, with the Italian targeting the top 10 this time round.
“Is a bit strange situation because it’s already the second time here in Misano and the second race is always particular because usually there is just one time,” Rossi said on Thursday. “But in the last two years, with the COVID situation we learn to stay in the same track also for more than one race.
“I think is a great chance to say ‘Ciao’ to all the Italian fans. Is always great to race here, in Misano, in my home circuit. I hope that we can have a good weekend for the weather - because this period in Italy is a bit more difficult, so I hope to have a dry weekend, especially Sunday, and try the maximum during the weekend to be competitive all the race.
“It’s a bit difficult because every race we have a lot of different things around,” he continued, discussing maintaining his concentration as his season winds down. “Because I will finish racing so everybody want to make something special and we need a lot of time to try to manage everything.
“At the end, the problem is that I am still on the track, and I’m still on the bike, and the difficulty is try to share and try to stay concentrate at the maximum because already when you jump on a MotoGP is difficult and dangerous. So try to stay concentrate, not think that is the last race in Misano, but that is a real race. I think that the best way is try to be competitive, and try to be the maximum and a good result can be staying in the top 10, but also this is not easy.
“It’s difficult for everybody, also for a normal MotoGP rider to keep the concentration during the weekend because we have to do a lot of different things, a lot of PR for example, that for the people around are very important. When, for the rider, is important just the result. So, I’m already in the same situation just a little bit more extreme.
“You have to concentrate and think that the important thing is the result of Sunday, and after arrive all the rest. So, you need to manage the situation but is more or less the same for everybody.”
Reflecting on the impending end to his time in MotoGP, Rossi remains grateful to the support he receives at every circuit on the calendar but especially the home crowds.
“Is a long story, is more than 400 races, a long career and I just have to say thank you to everybody because I have an incredible support all over the world,” he said. “Especially in Italy but more or less everywhere, so I give always the maximum. We enjoy a lot together because it’s a long career with a lot of great races. We will see on Sunday, anyway after Misano we will have another two races. Is always a sad moment when you arrive at the end but anyway it was good, we enjoy.”
This weekend sees another important moment for one of his VR46 Academy graduates, and friends, Pecco Bagnaia, as the Ducati rider challenges Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo for the 2021 MotoGP title.
“The difference is 52 points,” Rossi explained. “So, I think that Fabio wants to close as soon as possible. So try already Sunday, because if become longer, always become more difficult. So for sure he will try the maximum on Sunday.
“Pecco I said already that my advice was to make as Misano I - pole position, fastest lap and win the race,” he laughed. “This is the most clever thing that I can say to Pecco, but I think that is a great, great challenge between Pecco and Fabio, I think that they deserve to fight for the championship. Is a shame that Pecco lose some points during the season, maybe not for Fabio but maybe for the people around, can be more fun if they are more close in the points. But, anyway I think is right like this.”