PARIS: Valentino Rossi is embracing a fresh start with Yamaha SRT after dropping down from the manufacturer’s factory team for his 22nd season competing in motorcycling’s top category.
Rossi, 42, has won the MotoGP championship seven times but endured his worst season in 2020, finishing 15th overall and missing two races following a positive Covid-19 test.
The Italian will line up alongside compatriot Franco Morbidelli for the Yamaha satellite team, having signed a one-year extension to his contract with the Japanese manufacturer.
“It’s a new challenge for me. This is a very young team, but in the last two years they have already been really competitive,” Rossi said at the team’s virtual launch on Monday.
“My targets for 2021 is to be competitive, fight to win races, fight to achieve podiums and also fight for a good position in the World Championship standings at the end of the season.”
Rossi has switched places with Fabio Quartararo, the young French rider making the step up to the factory Yamaha team after recording three wins in just his second season among the elite.
Morbidelli, 26, finished second in the standings to Joan Mir, who ended Marc Marquez’s four-year reign as champion. Marquez missed all but the opening race of the season to due injury.
“We are all very focused on our targets to make the best we can. I think that with Franco we are a very interesting couple of riders as we know each other really well,” said Rossi.
“All the whole team has a lot of motivation and I will give my maximum to achieve together the best possible result at the end of the calendar.”
Rossi holds records for MotoGP and 500cc wins (89) but he has not won an elite class race since 2017.
He dominated the sport in the first decade of the century but has been replaced as the number one rider by six-time MotoGP champion Marquez. – AFP