Valentino Rossi announces retirement from MotoGP

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi has announced the 2021 season will be his last after confirming his retirement from motorcycle racing on Thursday in Austria.

Spanning 26 seasons, Rossi is one of the most decorated competitors in world motorsport, the Italian winning a record-equalling seven premier class title and nine overall across MotoGP, 250cc and 125cc.

From 414 starts, Rossi has taken 115 grand prix victories, with 89 of those coming in the premier class, while his total podium haul stands at 235 as of the 2021 Dutch TT.

After losing his factory Yamaha slot for 2021, Rossi elected to continue his career into this season with backing from Yamaha at Petronas SRT – but the campaign has so far been his worst ever, the Italian scoring just 19 points from the first nine races.

As a result, retirement has looked a certainty since the summer break – though the possibility of him racing his own VR46 Ducati in 2022 did appear, after it emerged the title sponsorship between the team and Saudi oil giant Aramco doesn't exist.

On Thursday at the Styrian GP – at the venue where Rossi took his first grand prix podium in the 125cc class back in 1996 – the Italian legend announced his retirement from MotoGP.

"Ciao to everybody, I feel a bit moved. Embarrassing here, I need a table minimum," he said.

"I said during the season I'd take my decision for next year after the summer break. I decided to stop at the end of the season so unfortunately this will be the last season as a MotoGP rider.

"It's difficult, it's a very sad moment because it's difficult to say and to know that next year I will not race with motorcycles. I've done this for more or less 30 years so next year my life will change after some point of view.

"But anyway, it was great, I enjoyed it very much, it's a long, long journey and it was really, really fun.

"It's 25 or 26 years in the world championship. It was great and I had an unforgettable moment with all my team, with all the guys that work for me.

"So I don't have a lot to say, just this."

Listen to our podcast:

 

The 41-year-old made his grand prix debut in the 125cc class in 1996 and was champion in the division the following year before stepping up to the 250cc class in 1998 and winning the title in 1999.

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

For 2000 Rossi was signed by Honda to a factory-backed satellite NSR500 and dominated the 2001 campaign to win the first of his seven premier class titles.

For the new four-stroke MotoGP era in 2002 Rossi rode for the Repsol Honda team, winning the title in 2002 and 2003 before making a shock switch to Yamaha for 2004 after his relationship with HRC soured.

Yamaha hadn't won a grand prix throughout 2003, but Rossi took the revamped M1 to victory in his first race on the bike in South Africa after a duel with Max Biaggi and would go on to win the title.

Rossi was champion again in 2005, but difficult campaigns in 2006 and 2007 saw him cede the title to Honda's Nicky Hayden and Ducati's Casey Stoner.

Rossi added two more titles to his tally in 2008 and 2009, but the tide was turning at Yamaha and the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo in 2008 led to escalating tensions.

The Italian's 2010 title hopes vanished when he broke his leg during practice for the Italian GP, with Lorenzo going on to win the championship.

Rossi made a big-money move to Ducati for 2011, but scored just three podiums across disastrous 2011/2012 campaigns and returned to Yamaha in 2013.

Returning to winning ways at Assen that year, Rossi won twice in 2014 and was runner-up in the championship before mounting a charge for the 2015 title in a bitter battle with Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

After accusing Marc Marquez of conspiring with Lorenzo to sabotage his title hopes in Australia, Rossi's championship aspirations fell apart in Malaysia when a controversial incident with Marquez netted him a back-of-the-grid start for the Valencia finale.

Rossi fought through to fourth but Lorenzo was crowned champion. This marked a turning point in Rossi's career, his tally of wins shrinking from four in 2015 to just two in 2016 and one in 2017.

Race winner Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Race winner Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

And since the 2017 Dutch TT, Rossi has been winless in MotoGP, while his podium haul shrunk from five in 2018 to two in 2019, one in 2020 and so far none this season.

Rossi's larger-than-life personality and his famous rivalries with the likes of Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner and Lorenzo, helped propel MotoGP into the mainstream.

The Italian's legacy will live on through his VR46 Riders Academy, which has helped rear young Italian talent, and his VR46 team – which will make its MotoGP debut in 2022.

Having famously flirted with a switch to Formula 1 in the 2000s and taken part in a number of car events, Rossi has previously expressed a desire to race GT3 machinery after his MotoGP career and potentially compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

shares
comments
Marc Marquez: Simone Biles 'showed what athletes really feel sometimes'
Previous article

Marc Marquez: Simone Biles 'showed what athletes really feel sometimes'

Next article

MotoGP riders pay tribute to 'Michael Jordan of bikes' Valentino Rossi

MotoGP riders pay tribute to 'Michael Jordan of bikes' Valentino Rossi
Load comments
How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race Prime

How Ducati has drawn first blood in the 2022 MotoGP title race

The 2021 MotoGP season may have only just ended but preparations for 2022 are well underway following a two-day test at Jerez this week. Ducati has hit the ground running while a lack of progress dominated Yamaha’s and world champion Fabio Quartararo’s test. While no battle lines have been drawn yet for 2022, it appears Ducati has already drawn first blood...

MotoGP
Nov 20, 2021
Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late Prime

Why Suzuki's quest for a new MotoGP boss may be too late

Suzuki is on the search for a new team manager after its decision not to replace Davide Brivio at the start of 2021 was backed up by its unsuccessful bid to help Joan Mir defend his 2020 MotoGP world title. But whoever Shinichi Sahara appoints next, it may have already come too late to convince Mir to stick with the project

MotoGP
Nov 19, 2021
How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career Prime

How Rossi got the perfect send-off to his MotoGP career

The greatest chapter in MotoGP history came to a close at the Valencia Grand Prix as Valentino Rossi bid farewell after 26 seasons of grand prix racing. While his run to a strong 10th was a pleasing end to his time in MotoGP, it was what happened at the front of the grid that capped the Italian's ideal send-off

MotoGP
Nov 15, 2021
Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove Prime

Why MotoGP's under-fire graduate has a point to prove

OPINION: MotoGP-bound Darryn Binder was already under the microscope as his jump from Moto3 to join RNF's new top-class team was announced. But his crash with title hopeful Dennis Foggia caused significant consternation among the ranks - with many current riders suggesting the top level should be harder to break into as a result

MotoGP
Nov 9, 2021
How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo Prime

How Portugal exposed the biggest threat to Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo’s first DNF of his title-winning 2021 MotoGP season couldn’t have come at a better time. But the events of the Yamaha rider’s Algarve Grand Prix exposed the M1’s well-known major weakness, which could threaten his championship defence given the increasingly Ducati-heavy makeup of the grid heading into 2022

MotoGP
Nov 8, 2021
What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression Prime

What's really fuelling junior bike racing's dangerous aggression

The pressure shouldered by young riders is at the root of the increased on-track aggression seen in lower categories of late, which motorcycling's governing bodies want to curb with new rules. But will stopping under-18s from racing in the world championship and capping grid sizes prevent the often desperate acts of youths pursuing their MotoGP dreams?

MotoGP
Nov 2, 2021
The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano Prime

The three factors that crowned MotoGP's newest champion at Misano

The prospect of Fabio Quartararo clinching the 2021 MotoGP world championship title at Misano appeared small after struggling to 15th in qualifying, while main rival Francesco Bagnaia took pole. Here's how the Yamaha rider turned it around, with help from an ill-fated Bagnaia tyre choice, to secure the crown with two races to spare

MotoGP
Oct 25, 2021
Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on Prime

Marco Simoncelli: Remembering MotoGP's ultimate maverick 10 years on

Saturday 23 October marks the 10th anniversary of Marco Simoncelli's death. The one-time 250cc world champion and double MotoGP podium finisher was the ultimate maverick character with big hair, a big personality and an even bigger talent. Motorsport.com pays tribute to a much-missed figure, a decade on.

MotoGP
Oct 23, 2021