Multiple MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has vowed that his attention will revert to his two-wheeled commitments between now and the start of the 2010 season, following a brief and-of-year dalliance with cars.
The seven-time senior class title winner has made no secret of his love for all forms of motorsport but, after a frustrating autumn on four wheels, he has promised that the next few months will be devoted to getting both himself and his bike into shape to defend his 2009 crown.
Rossi's final competitive outing of the year came at the recent Bologna Motor Show, where he drove a Ford Focus WRC rally car in the annual Bettega Memorial rallysprint event. Unfortunately for the Italian, a plethora of more qualified rally specialists denied him the chance of taking to the podium.
Returning for another crack at 'the Bettega', 30-year old Rossi found himself up against former WRC champions Petter Solberg and Marcus Gronholm, JWRC champion Sébastien Ogier and 2009 WRC runner-up Mikko Hirvonen in the specially-built Motorsport Arena, but it was former Ford works driver Gronholm who proved the final straw for Rossi, defeating the Yamaha rider before going on claim fourth spot in the even as Hirvonen ran out eventual winner.
“The track was extremely difficult,” Rossi revealed to motogp.com
, “I tried to get a feel for the car, but I had too many problems and could not get the right reaction.
“But it was still a good event, as I could compare myself against the best rally drivers and it's probably right that they're the winners. I've had some bad luck - with the Ferrari at Vallelunga, where the car caught fire, and Monza, where I had another minor mishap - but now I've done enough driving, and will concentrate on next season.”
Despite his vow, however, it was quite clear that Rossi has no intention of turning his back on four-wheeled competition for good.
“Next year, I'll return and try again with the rally,” he smiled.
Other bike racing regulars in action at the Bologna show included Andrea Dovizioso, Mattia Pasini, Andrea Iannone and Loris Reggiani, who all took part in the drifting competition at the wheel of Ford Mustang 'muscle cars'.