Next year's MotoGP World Championship is unlikely to be Valentino Rossi's last, with the newly crowned nine-time title winner now 'thinking out loud' about a shot at Giacomo Agostini's grand prix win record.
The Italian superstar has one more year to run on his existing Yamaha contract - and could put his name at the top of all the major premier-class records by the end of 2010.
Rossi already heads the all-time list of 500cc/MotoGP race wins (77), podiums (127) and poles (58) - and is just one title away from joining Agostini on a record eight premier-class world championships.
But Rossi faces a far tougher challenge in terms of total grand prix wins and titles, over all classes.
Nine world championships has put Rossi joint third in the overall record books, but catching Angel Nieto (13) and Agostini (15) is all but impossible in the modern era of racing one class per season.
However the all time grand prix win record remains a more realistic goal.
Agostini holds the record with 122 victories in all classes, while Rossi is currently second with 103. Each MotoGP season contains 17 or 18 rounds, so Rossi would need to ride for at least another two years.
And, judging by comments made immediately after clinching his seventh MotoGP crown one round early at Sepang on Sunday, the question won't be if he signs a new contract - but for how long.
"Maybe I can get close to that record of 122,” The Sun
reports Rossi as saying. “It depends what I decide in 2011, if I take a one or two-year contract.
"If I had to decide today I would sign up straight away for another two seasons.”
But who will Rossi ride for in 2011?
The Doctor appears unhappy that his main title rival, Jorge Lorenzo, is now also his team-mate - although this could simply be a bargaining position with Yamaha - whilst rumours at Sepang suggested the more Rossi-friendly Vittoriano Guareschi could replace Livio Suppo as head of the factory Ducati team in preparation for a future #46 switch.
Substantial obstacles continue to stand in the way of the ever rumoured Rossi/Ducati partnership - not least what would happen to Ducati's present number one Casey Stoner and the fact that Rossi would insist that crew chief Jerry Burgess and as many members of his current team as possible make the move with him.