Valentino Rossi has given his strongest indication yet of what his future beyond MotoGP may look like, by stating that a new career in the World Rally Championship is his 'main option'.
"I hope to switch to four wheels [after MotoGP]," Reuters
reports the 30-year-old Italian as saying. "I think it's too late for Formula 1 but I hope to have the second part of my career in cars.
"It's always been my great passion. I grew up beside my father Graziano, who drove rally cars, so I hope when I finish with bikes I have another 10 years in rallying.”
Rossi has made numerous test appearances in Ferrari F1 cars since 2004, but once again declared that the possibility of an F1 drive is over.
"I had my chance to go into F1 at the end of 2006. I spoke a lot with Ferrari. I had a serious plan to be the test driver in 2007 and then start to race in 2008 but I decided to stay with bikes - so it meant me and F1 were finished,” he said.
Instead it is the World Rally Championship, where Rossi has made three 'wild-card' appearances, which looks set to one-day replace MotoGP.
"I think WRC is the main option,” he confirmed. “I have a great relationship with Ford so maybe it will be Ford. I will decide in the middle of 2010."
Rossi, the reigning six time MotoGP world champion, has a contract with Yamaha until the end of next season - but may decide to race on for several more years.
"I'm still about 25 wins behind [the all-time record of 122 race wins set by Giacomo Agostini] so if I want to catch him I'll have to continue racing after these two years. I will decide in 2010."
Rossi will start this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, round three of the 2009 MotoGP season, one point behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.