Valentino Rossi has again sought to play down speculation linking him to a possible future in F1 with Ferrari once he calls it a day on two wheels – by re-iterating that he will be 'too old' to make the transition to MotoGP's four-wheeled equivalent by then, and that he is far more likely to make a second career out of rallying.
A number of tests for the Scuderia
over the last few years have got romanticists dreaming about a potential union between arguably the most famous and mythical marque the world over and the most successful rider in the history of motorcycling. However, the record-breaking nine-time world champion has repeatedly poured cold water on such notions – and on a visit to India ahead of the 2010 campaign, he has done so again.
“There are not many changes in a man's body between 22 and 34, so I still have some time left,” the 30-year-old is quoted as having said by Visordown
. “When I finish with bikes, I would consider shifting to cars – probably rallying – before I finally decide to take it easy. I know F1 would have been easier, but by the time I finish MotoGP, I will be too old for F1.”
Rossi has indeed indulged his love of rallying on several occasions in recent years, with his most high-profile outing being in a Stobart VK M-Sport run Ford Focus on the 2008 Wales Rally GB, on which he finished a far from unrespectable twelfth outright. The Urbino native also came in second on home turf on last year's Monza Rally, whilst an eye-catching performance earlier this year in the Vallelunga Six-Hour race – again with Ferrari – set tongues wagging about a possible sportscar switch.
In the meantime, the Yamaha star has paid his first-ever visit to India to put in an appearance at Asia's largest motor show – the tenth edition of the Auto Expo – in the country's capital of New Delhi at the behest of his team. After meeting and greeting guests, signing autographs for some of the thousand-plus fans who turned out to see him and taking a general look around at the latest India Yamaha models, the Italian reflected on his two-day trip, that also saw him introduced to Yamaha India ambassador and leading Bollywood film star John Abraham.
“This is my very first visit to India and I am impressed by the beauty of this country, although sadly I did not have much time to visit Delhi,” mused 'The Doctor'. “I hope to be able to come back soon and have more time to enjoy this place. Yamaha has been doing great things here, and the positive response from the market is the evidence that they have been going in the right direction.
“The new models YZF-R15 and FZ16, which are less-powerful replicas of the R1 and the Fazer, are definitely appropriate for this market and for the characteristics of the traffic here in India. In fact, I am amazed at the traffic and the incredible numbers of cars and bikes on the road all the time, by day and night!
“It was great to see John Abraham; I met him a few years ago when he came to a race, so it was nice to see him in his own country, where he is very famous! I'm flying home now, but it has been a very good trip; I am happy to have so many fans here in India, and I hope that one day we will have the chance to race here.”
Rossi's appearance at Auto Expo was hailed as 'one of the biggest events of 2010' for the Indian motorsport community.