Rossi’s final verdicts on 2016, Marquez, being single and Vinales

Picture: Bonnie Lane

“Watching the start of Moto3 from the pit wall, is starting to smell the starting grid again and feel what you will go through in a couple of hours.” The evergreen Valentino keeps on surprising with his huge passion for motorbikes that is not changed after 20 years of racing.

“With Lorenzo the relationship was finally ruined at the end of the 2015 season, but we hugged each other in the garage in Valencia. It was nice.”

“Marquez? It’s good he is not my team mate…”

Far from the pressure of the MotoGP paddock, Valentino Rossi was the special guest at the Italian Radio Deejay. In a relaxed atmosphere, the 2016 MotoGP runner up and nine-time world champion spoke freely about his rivals, their strengths and weak points, but also about all his efforts to try and win the world title, included ‘leaving his former girlfriend Linda’.

It was the perfect occasion to joke and make a light interview far from the technical questions about tyres, engines and so on. He didn’t withdraw also from speaking about his new team-mate Maverick Vinales.

“I didn’t chose him”, he says. “I would have preferred an older rider like Dani Pedrosa,” he laughs. “I thought to have a smaller problem, but after the first test I understood that it will be as tough as last year. Maybe a bit nicer, but I’m not so sure…”

Speaking about Jorge Lorenzo and their difficult relationship, he says:
“The relationship with Lorenzo was finally ruined a lot at the end of 2015, we had a big fight and from that moment the situation hasn’t improved. But, after the final round at Valencia, we hugged in the garage and he told me he has always had respect for me. It was a nice moment.”

Regarding Marc Marquez, he adds:
“Fortunately he is not my team mate, but I think he showed a lot [of his personality] at the end of the 2015. Between us there can be only a work relationship and respect. He is a very strong rider, he never gives up and he has a riding style which is typical of the new generation. He has also a special riding style, he touches the ground with the elbow and succeeds to save the situation also when he crashes. Maybe he is a bit too strong,” he laughs.

About his rituals, like watching the start of the Moto3 class, he confesses:
“Yes, I always watch the start of the Moto3 from the pit wall. I have my riders there. But this is not the only reason. When you go there, you start to feel the smell of the starting grid and what you will go through in a couple of hours. It is also the occasion to check the mood of the marshal who is in charge of the starting lights and the checkered flag. He switches the light between two and five seconds. So you have a feeling of his hand.

“Then you study the guy who displays the red flag on the grid and how long it takes him to exit the grid. Between the red flag ands the switching off of the lights there is a sequence of actions you take, like pulling the clutch, put the gear and you cannot stay too much with the gear on, so all these seconds are crucial.”

It’s incredible to hear after 20 years of GPs: “The fun to ride and the time spent on the bike is exactly the same as the first race. I still enjoy race. It’s all the rest that it’s tiring”.

About his school, the VR46 Riders Academy.
“I enjoy so much to work with these young riders. I didn’t expect I loved it so much. I get along very well with them and in a way I’m a bit worried bout this, because I’m 20 years older,” he jokes.

“We train together every day in the gym, we ride at the Ranch and at Misano,. They make a lot of questions. Some some riders, like Migno, for example, who absorb like a sponge, and it’s an incredible satisfaction to see how they modify their style, and so on.”

And who does give Valentino some advice?
“I have my guys, like Uccio or Albi, for example. From a technical point of view, I have former 500cc rider Luca Cadalora. I chose him, because we get along very well and he has a huge passion for bikes. He studies my style on the track. We choose together the points and then he analysis my style and what the other riders do. I changed a lot my style since I returned to Yamaha. You have to change, because the machines, the tyres and the electronics change a lot in the years. Now, for example, you can lean more and open the gas sooner.”

Is he disappointed for not having claimed the title?
“I’m sorry I didn’t win, but it hurts more to have lost the title in 2015. I try not to go back with my mind to those moments, but I have to say that it was difficult to restart the new season and it was difficult till my victory in Jerez. The crucial round this year was Mugello with the engine failure. It was a pity, because that result could have changed the season. It’s different for the leader to race with a good margin or to feel the pressure.”

Finally, he shows his most personal side. “I also tried to return single to try and win the world title but it didn’t help”. He laughs, “It’s one year now, I left Linda after four years together. She is with Alonso, she made the jump from MotoGP to Formula 1,” he laughs again.

“In 2006 I was very close to switch to Formula 1, but I’m happy I remained In MotoGP because I’m still racing. The turning point of this second part of my career was the return in Yamaha. It was not easy to convince Yamaha. They were very disappointed that I left them for another Manufacturer. Their plan in fact was they I finished my career with them.”

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