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MotoGP Italian GP

Morbidelli: Rossi mentorship "has kept me alive" through Yamaha woes

Franco Morbidelli says the mentorship he has received from MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi and his academy have “kept me alive” through his ongoing Yamaha woes.

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing,

Having ended 2020 as championship runner-up on the Petronas SRT Yamaha, Morbidelli's time in MotoGP has grown immensely difficult.

Since switching to the factory Yamaha squad midway through 2021, Morbidelli has scored a best of fourth – which came in 2023 in Argentina in the sprint and grand prix – and is now under pressure to save his ride for 2024.

Yamaha has already outlined a timeframe of the end of the first half of the season to have its 2024 line-up fully firmed up.

While options to replace him are limited, Pramac's Jorge Martin has been linked and the Spaniard's contract with Ducati does stipulate a clause in which he can leave should a factory team offer him a deal.

Rossi's VR46 Academy has been working harder this year to help Morbidelli improve his form, which the Italian detailed in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com.

"The best thing that the Academy, Vale and all the guys can do is give me battle," Morbidelli said.

"You really grow up by the adversities that you find. The more adversities that you find, you are able to overcome them, and you are a better person, and a better rider in this case.

"So, what Vale does in a great way is giving me a battle in every training. Even though he has stopped, he is always so competitive with go-karts and at the ranch and with the R1 bikes. With everything he jumps on the competition is as high as in racing.

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

"So, that's the thing that really kept me alive last year because in the difficult moments, I was having here, when I was training back at the ranch and everything we did I was seeing my potential was there.

"When I was home I was like the usual Franky, fast in every situation.

"So, that kept me alive, but at the same time I said 'OK, I need to also get better in what I think I already do good'.

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"I tried to improve the things that are not only easy to see and understand that you can do better, but also I tried to improve the things that I think I had already.

"It's difficult and it's a slow process, it's not immediate, but it's the way to improve and it's a way that is still ongoing and will never stop.

"But it's the thing that right now is making me feel when I go into qualifying that I can give a battle to my team-mate and not getting screwed by one second."

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