MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Valentino Rossi Announces Retirement from Motorcycle Racing at the End of 2021

Whether you consider him the GOAT or not, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi has been the most influential motorcycle racer in the modern era. In a press conference this morning on the eve of the Styrian GP in Austria, Rossi said he was hanging up his leathers and would not race motorcycles following the final MotoGP event of this series.

It may be hard to believe, but the 42-year-old Rossi has been racing at the GP level for 26 years. In addition to his nine titles, he earned 115 GP victories and a total of 235 podium finishes. 89 wins and 199 podiums occurred in the Premier Class. Rossi even has a Premier Class championship from the 500cc two-stroke era.

Although Rossi will own the VR46 MotoGP team next year, which will compete aboard Ducati motorcycles, Yamaha emphasizes in the press release below that their relationship with Rossi will continue. Here is the Yamaha press release:

Today, nine-time World Champion and Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi has announced his retirement as a MotoGP rider after the end of the 2021 season. Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing want to thank Rossi for the – still ongoing – 16 fantastic years of partnership. They plan to maintain a close working relationship with the Italian after 2021 through various collaborations including the VR46 Riders Academy and the ’Yamaha VR46 Master Camp‘ training and racing programmes.

Spielberg (Austria), 5th August 2021 – Following Valentino Rossi‘s MotoGP racing retirement announcement, coming into effect at the end of 2021, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing wish to sincerely thank the nine-time World Champion and Grand Prix racing legend for 16 – still ongoing – unforgettable seasons together.

Yamaha and Rossi‘s story started with that iconic victory at Valentino‘s first GP race for Yamaha in South Africa in 2004. From there on in the partnership got to experience lots of thrilling racing action, many great moments in the paddock and off the track, securing to date 142 podiums, celebrating 56 GP victories, and winning four MotoGP World Championship Titles, in 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009.

The Doctor‘s astounding achievements, unparalleled passion for racing, and unrivalled charisma make up a huge part of Yamaha‘s and MotoGP‘s heritage, earning the Italian, who is recognised the world over, the epithet “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time).

It will be the end of an epic MotoGP era when the number 46 won‘t be featuring in the MotoGP line-up in 2022, as racing fans the world over will agree. But Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing will continue to support Rossi in his future endeavours. They will retain a close working relationship with him through various collaborations including the VR46 Riders Academy and the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp training and racing programmes.

The retirement decision and new career opportunities will not diminish The Doctor‘s determination or lessen his efforts during his final months as a MotoGP rider. Likewise, Yamaha is extremely grateful for the MotoGP legend‘s contributions to its racing successes and will remain fully dedicated to ensuring that the second half of their 16th season together will be a fitting end to a very special MotoGP partnership.

YOSHIHIRO HIDAKA
PRESIDENT & CEO, YAMAHA MOTOR CO., LTD.

“First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Valentino for the great partnership we enjoyed with him. He will be deeply missed on track, inside the paddock, and behind the scenes at Yamaha, but we fully respect his decision.”

“At Yamaha we take great pride in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing legacy that we have created together. The 16 years we will have spent as partners were filled with epic battles on track and wins. At Yamaha we always strive to give our fans and customers the feeling of Kando*. In a way, Valentino‘s entire career at Yamaha embodies this quest for the deep satisfaction and intense excitement that we experience when we encounter something of exceptional value. We are all very pleased that Valentino has decided to remain a Yamaha rider until the end of his MotoGP racing career and beyond.”

“There are too many great moments between Yamaha and Valentino to pick one as a favourite. There were also challenges throughout the years, but the trust between us never wavered and even strengthened our partnership through the years.”

“Valentino‘s achievements were made both on and off the track, and they make up a large and important part of Yamaha‘s racing heritage. We thank him for his incredible efforts, unequalled skills, and never-failing passion and optimism. We are proud to have been a part of his unique success story. We will forever cherish the precious memories we made together and hope to keep adding to them with him as a Yamaha brand ambassador.”

*Kando is a Japanese word for the simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement that we experience when we encounter something of exceptional value.

LIN JARVIS
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

“First of all, I would like to thank Valentino sincerely, on behalf of Yamaha Motor Racing, for the special partnership between him and Yamaha.”

“We were privileged to be key players in a legendary Grand Prix era, with Valentino fortifying Yamaha‘s rider line-up for 16 – still ongoing – seasons. The now iconic partnership between Yamaha and Rossi started almost like a fairy tale. Rossi won that incredible race at Welkom in 2004, his first GP with Yamaha. His arrival at Yamaha was the catalyst that completely changed our MotoGP racing programme, and he gave us the confidence to regain our challenging spirit and once again become MotoGP World Champions.”

“Since 2004 we have completed to date 264 races, together we secured 56 wins, 46 second places, 40 third places, and we won four MotoGP World Championship Titles in 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009 respectively.”

“Valentino is a living legend whose successes and personal flair contributed to Yamaha‘s legacy and heritage in abundance. Also, during more difficult periods, his positive mindset would be a boost to those around him, and he was always ready to go the extra mile for a good result. It‘s thanks to his never-failing passion for MotoGP that we can proudly look back on soon-to-be 16 fantastic seasons together.”

“We all knew that eventually the moment would come that Valentino’s illustrious Grand Prix racing career would come to an end. His unparalleled skills and warm charisma will definitely be greatly missed by the fans, the media, the MotoGP paddock, and the entire Yamaha staff. But before he finally hangs up his leathers, we have nine more opportunities to enjoy and savour his appearances at the remaining Grand Prix races of the 2021 season. In that respect it is very fitting that we will see the return of racing fans and spectators at many of the coming races.”

“So let us all enjoy the next GPs and then we‘ll get the chance to say a proper thank you to Valentino at the end of the Valencia GP weekend in November.”

NOTES

With 26 Grand Prix seasons under his belt and still competing at the age of 42, Rossi is known as one of the greatest riders of all time.

He equals Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali, who both also wrote nine titles to their names in all classes; only Giacomo Agostini and Ángel Nieto have more.

With 56 wins from 264 races Rossi is the most successful Yamaha racer of all time.

Moreover, Rossi is the only rider to win premier class titles on five different types of motorcycles (500cc 4-cylinder two-stroke, 990cc 5-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 990cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 800cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, and a Yamaha 1000cc 4-cylinder four-stroke).

RECORDS & HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rossi is the most successful Yamaha rider in history (56 wins, 46 second places, 40 third places on a Yamaha, scored in 264 races so far).
  • He is the rider that’s been active the longest in Grand Prix racing (he made his debut in 1996, this is his 26th season, and he has made 423 Grand Prix starts in total, of which 363 were in the premier class).
  • He competed the most seasons on a Yamaha in the MotoGP class (this is his 16th season).
  • He secured the most podiums for Yamaha in the MotoGP class (so far, he has stood on the rostrum with Yamaha 142 times).
  • He holds the most first places for Yamaha in the MotoGP class (56 wins).
  • He completed 230 races back-to-back, without missing one (from his debut in 1996 in Malaysia until the race in Mugello in 2010).
  • He holds the record for most races started overall and in the premier class. (He has started in 423 GP races across all classes; 363 of which have been in the premier class and 264 of those races he rode on a Yamaha.)
  • He was the first rider to take back-to-back premier-class victories with different manufacturers (after his win at the 2004 season-opening GP in South Africa).
  • He achieved the highest number of premier-class victories in a single season by a Yamaha rider (11 wins in 2005).
  • He stood on the podium in the premier class on 199 occasions.
  • He has been on the podium 235 times across all classes.
  • He is the only Grand Prix rider that also excels in rally racing. (He is a seven-time winner of the Monza Rally Show and won the GTE Am-class of the 2019 Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.)
  • Out of Yamaha‘s 516 Grand Prix victories, 11% were secured by him, making Rossi the biggest contributing rider (56 victories of the 516 GP wins secured by Yamaha).
  • He is the only active Grand Prix racer who is also a lower-classes team owner at the same time.
  • He secured 6,330 points in total (before the 2021 Styria GP), if you combine his results over all the classes he competed in (125cc, 250cc, 500cc, MotoGP).

50 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    And now a father. Congratulations Val.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Farewell to one of the greatest racers of all time, and the rider who, in my opinion, has amassed the most impressive portfolio of race seasons thus far.

  3. motomike says:

    I’m so old I am going to go find a DVD I recorded way back when with early Vale antics.If I can remember where they are! No Youtube commercials on them.

    • Brinskee says:

      I remember him being dressed up as Robinhood with a bow and arrow, and also stopping his bike at a trackside porta potty, maybe he did this more than once? And so many other ridiculous antics. What a character!

    • Motoman says:

      I have t-shirts older than that.

      Sign up @ MotoGP.com and you can have video of races back to 1992 or so at your fingertips. No need to bust out the DVD.

  4. Neil says:

    Well done Valentino! We just lost a great rider and Dealership owner, Scott Mullin, at Loudon NH who was in his 30’s, so it will e nice to see Valentino not risking his life at the back of the pack to catch up to clearly faster bikes and racers. He joints have to feel stiff after all those crashes over the years. Racers often talk about getting out of bed in the morning when they are older.

  5. Joe says:

    I get a bit sentimental remembering some of the epic battles he’s had over the years.
    Rossi vs Lorenzo, vs Stoner , vs Marquez, etc.
    Great stuff !
    Thanks Doc !

  6. Lawrence says:

    OK Vale, done racing, go enjoy a couple of cheeseburgers and get some weight on your scrawny self!

  7. Moonshot says:

    Based on pics of his girlfriend? No brainer on his part.

  8. Tommy D says:

    I have to say that this year’s performance really smacks of the “has been” vibe. We’ve seen Rossi win races from last place on the grid to struggling to not end up in last place. He should have retired a year ago. If not even sooner. I am a Rossi fan with autograph pic on wall and a most uncomfortable and expensive replica helmet. Yet I must say just retire at the break. Don’t go back. Don’t risk injury to complete this season. End it and enjoy the rest of the summer.

    • ilikefood says:

      Should have retired sooner? Why? The guy loves racing. If you were offered a ride in MotoGP, but you knew you’d be one of the slower riders, would you still take it, or would be like, “nah, unless I can win I won’t bother”? I expect it’s the same for him – he enjoys doing it, so he kept doing it. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s great that he’s riding for the love of it, not because he needs an ego boost from winning.

      • Tommy D says:

        Make no mistake about it. He shows up to be on the podium and not just to have fun. As a pro that dominated for some time you don’t have the same ego as Joe Normal. You are driven to succeed. I think he was hoping to pull off a couple more podiums to show he still had it. But the kids are breaking later and on the gas sooner and as a racer this gets old really fast. Not only that but you have to push harder to make pace and this is where bad things happen. Mental mistakes happen when you race beyond your comfort and that can cost you more than seconds. This is why I think for the safety of the brand you stop when you know it’s time to stop and not go out there just to mix it up. Racing is funny business. When you push your hardest you go slower and make more mistakes. Also when you drop your guard and say to yourself I’m not going to push, weird things happen. I want him safely out of racing to enjoy life.

    • Marcus says:

      You have to admit, he had the best helmet graphics.

  9. Mick says:

    I’m bummed. I would have liked to see if he could still not be battling for dead last at 50. That and he is the only rider left that rode a two stroke. With his departure the entire series becomes dead to me.

    But he’s 42. I retired at 40, nineteen years ago. So I can’t fault him at all.

    • Motoman says:

      Thought it already was dead to you Mick. Like 20 years ago.

      And I retired at 14. Neener, neener.

      • Mick says:

        That’s a story that I would be glad to hear.

        I know so many people who fail so miserably at retirement. It would be interesting to learn from someone who never really had to work much at all.

        I have been geologicaly removed from regular exposure to The Slackers Club. I love those guys.

        Nearly every slacker fills some kind of weird niche somewhere.

        Or maybe I’m still an amateur.

  10. Brinskee says:

    Like I said. About time.

    Good luck with your next chapter Rossi. Been watching you since you were just a wee lad. You have given all of us so much, brought our sport from the shadows into the bright hot light and owned the narrative.

    Bless you. And Godspeed. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

    VR46 forever

  11. Marcus says:

    His number should be retired. 🐐

  12. mickey says:

    Retiring somewhat young still, healthy and quite wealthy. A good combo.

    No doubt the greatest motorcycle road race pilot in the last quarter century.

    • fred says:

      Actually, lots of doubt. Stoner was better, Lorenzo was better, and Marquez is better. It’s been 12 years since there was a reasonable argument that he was the greatest. He was still competitive after 2009, but clearly wasn’t the best rider out there for well over a decade.

      • Motoman says:

        I think mickey meant on total performance over the last 25 years. Not sure anyone has matched his records yet (maybe Marquez took a couple?). Certainly not total number of championships.

        And mickey’s 25 year timeframe is meant to exclude Agostini who’s 15 championships will never be met. Too competitive now.

        • Scott the Aussie says:

          I think Mickey is spot on. Last 25 years for sure. To me there can never be “a” GOAT. There are just the people that define eras for their time. How can you compare Rossi to Hailwood, Marquez to Agostini, or Stanley Woods to Mick Doohan? The answer is that you can’t. These riders are just the riders that define their own eras. All the best to Vale, he’s earned his retirement.

      • Dave says:

        Marquez is the only modern era rider with a chance to match Rossi. The others are great riders bit it’s too late for the others. Stoner doesn’t belong on the list.

        • fred says:

          You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts. Stoner and Rossi competed against each other for 7 years in MotoGP. During that time, each won 2 World Championships. Stoner won 37 races, Rossi only 26. Stoner scored 1815 points, Rossi only 1702.

          Stoner was clearly a better racer than Rossi.

          • Motoman says:

            You’re not getting the point of the conversation, fred.

          • mickey says:

            In 2007 first year of the 800s, Stoner beat Rossi who finished 3rd in the WC, by 126 points, with 250 champion Pedrosa between them.

            According to your figures Stoner 1815 points and Rossi 1702 points, a difference of 113 points, that means during the other 6 years they competed against each other Rossi scored more points than Stoner

            Even if they both won 2 wc when competing directly against each other (a tie) in the end Rossi’s 7 premier class titles trumps Stoners 2 when careers are taken as a whole.

          • Dave says:

            Please.. in the 9 years before Stoner arrived, Rossi won 7 titles with 2 2nd places. Two of the years you cite had Rossi on the version of the Ducati that NOBODY could ride. Remove those two years and you have a more reasonable comparison.

            Even on the then imperious Honda Stoner only managed 3rd place in his 2nd year there.

            I say again, Stoner doesn’t belong in the conversation.

        • fred says:

          Dave, you still don’t get it, but that’s okay. During those 7 years, Stoner was a rookie in 2006. According to Mickey, that really should be the year that gets dropped, making Stoner’s dominance even more pronounced. Stoner won a Championship on the Ducati that NOBODY (else) could ride. He also had 3 wins and a 2nd in his last six races on the Ducati that Rossi couldn’t ever figure out how to ride. Don’t you remember Rossi boasting of what he would accomplish when he signed with Ducati? Reality proved otherwise.
          Doesn’t matter. Stoner was one of the great riders. Rossi was a better showman, and raced for more years, but Casey was a far more talented rider.

    • mickey says:

      Body of work

      Stoner was 10 when Rossi started winning GP’s. Marquez was in diapers. Lorenzo? Please. Lorenzo was maybe equal in his 3 best years to Rossi after his prime.

      How many championships did Stoner & Lorenzo win? Was it more than 9? Not even together.

      • fred says:

        Last 12 years (reasonable body of work?)
        # of Championships:
        Rossi – 0
        Mir – 1
        Stoner – 1
        Lorenzo – 3
        Marquez – 6
        Not bad for a kid in diapers.

        • mickey says:

          Now add in the first 13 years of Rossi’s racing career

          Total body of work fred, not pick and choose

          • mickey says:

            1997-2009

            # of Championships
            Rossi -9
            Mir-0
            Stoner-1
            Lorenzo -2
            Marquez-0

            Body of work

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Marquez started racing 125 GPS in 2008. Mir was home with his Legos in 2009.

          • mickey says:

            Exactly the point Dirck, when you talk about someone’s body of work, you cant ignore the first half of a career, while holding up others as an example of being better than him, because they won championships against him, when he was obviously past his prime.

            If Marquez, or Mir ends up winning 10 championships then we can compare.

            Stoner will never have more than 2 and Lorenzo never more than 5. So how can anyone claim they were better racers than a guy who won 9?

  13. DeltaZulu says:

    Yaawwwnnn! Don’t care.

  14. dt-175 says:

    what year did he win the c’ship on a yam 1000?