A confident Valentino Rossi unveiled his 2021 Yamaha M1 as part of the Petronas Yamaha SRT launch this morning, showcasing an updated livery as vibrant as his determination, as he enters his 26th year of MotoGP competition.
“I’m really happy to see my new bike for 2021. For me it’s a new experience and I can’t wait for the first test and the start of the championship in Qatar. The colour changed for me too, and I really like the livery of the bike, the new leathers, my new helmet: We are ready to start," said The Doctor.
A fully-fit Rossi, after last year’s battle with Covid-19, retains his well-documented competitive nature as the 42-year-old hunts down his 200th career podium and that, so far, illusive 90th victory.
“My targets for 2021 is to be competitive, fight to win races, fight to achieve podiums and also fight for a good position in the World Championship standings at the end of the season. We are all very focused on our targets to make the best we can.”
After an impressive and long-standing partnership, 2021 sees Rossi move away from the factory Yamaha squad, however, the relationship with his beloved M1 continues. While the opportunity to work alongside his VR46 Academy protégé, and last-year’s Vice Champion, Franco Morbidelli, provides a new dynamic.
"Franco and I are a very interesting couple of riders. We have a good relationship; we know each other very well. We are always training and challenging together on different bikes so this year we will also do this from the same garage.
“I’m very proud to be part of PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. It’s a new challenge for me. This is a very young team, but in the last two years they have already been really competitive. The bike will remain the same, my Yamaha YZR-M1, and I think it will be a funny season.
“I have a long career and already spent a lot of years with Yamaha and the M1; I can’t wait to work together with the Yamaha engineers and the whole team to try to improve the performance of the bike.
“It’s a long personal story with the Factory Team, split in two parts - since 2004 -, so it’s almost a life together. I don’t expect a lot of differences because the bike is the same and we will have the full support from the factory. At the same time is a new team, new people in the garage, new mechanics; so a new experience for me. The team has a lot of motivation and I will give my maximum to achieve together the best possible result at the end of the season."
Rossi’s new management echo the positive sentiments as the legend joins the burgeoning team for its third year in the premier class as Team Manager, Wilco Zeelenberg, explained:
“Valentino Rossi joins the team after a lot of years in the Factory team, so we are proud he trusted us and we want to give our all to get the best performance together. Vale achieved great results last year until he got COVID, so we need to try to start from that point.
“I believe that the impact [of Rossi joining SRT] is huge. Valentino has this very special aura around him and having him onboard our PETRONAS Yamaha SRT bike is a big honour. That Franco came out of the VR46 academy is also a special aspect. They are very close and for the atmosphere inside the team this could workout very well for both.
“For Vale to have his “mojo” back so he is battling for podiums again and Franco to continue where he stopped last season - on the podium every race weekend - would certainly be a success!”