It’s confirmed. Rossi will go on and on.. at least for the next three seasons.The Qatar weekend opened with the news that he had signed another two-year contract renewal with Yamaha, for 2019 and 2020
While this means he will be racing until he is at least 41, well beyond the usual limit in modern racing, the decision was no surprise. He has been dangling the decision in front of the media since the first of this year’s pre-season tests.
“Two years ago when I signed I thought maybe it would be the last time. To stay competitive and at the top level is always more difficult every year.
“I’d said to Yamaha, if I can survive the winter tests, I will decide.” He had probably done so some weeks before Thursday’s official confirmation.
This will prolong an already extraordinary career, giving him more chances to close the gap on fellow-Italian Giacomo Agostini for the most number of GP wins, currently standing at 122:115; but also to extend his lead in the number of premier-class wins, standing at 89 to Ago’s 68 and Mick Doohan’s 54.
The response of his rivals was respectful. Said Marquez: “It’s impressive the way he can find motivation: It’s not two more years … it’s three.” Dovizioso said: “If you understand a little about Rossi, you are not so surprised. You never know what he will do.” Zarco, whose hopes of a factory Yamaha rider are dashed by the decision, was generous in his praise. “For newcomers like me, he makes a dream come true. We can come to MotoGP, but without Rossi to follow and race it would not be the same.”
Old rival Max Biaggi was somewhat more teasing, taking to social media to point out that it is perfectly possible to win a World Championship aged 41. “I did,” he wrote, referring to his second World Superbike title in 2012.
By Michael Scott