By Stephen English
Valentino Rossi gave his firmest indication yet that he is looking to continue in MotoGP beyond the end of his current contract.
The Italian is about to start the final season of a two-year deal with Ducati and, although his first campaign aboard the Desmosedici was hugely disappointing, the nine times world champion is still looking towards the future.
Speaking during a press conference at Wrooom on Tuesday, Rossi was asked for his thoughts on racing in 2013 and said:
“The situation is that during the season it will be interesting,” commented Rossi. “Because all riders contracts are up so cards could be reshuffled. I would like to help Ducati achieve something and then maybe stop. But I would like at least one more contract, another two years.”
The news will have come as great relief to MotoGP series organisers Dorna who saw TV ratings slump during Rossi's enforced absence in 2009 as a result of a fractured leg.
With last season also having seen poor ratings as a result of poor racing in the premier-class it is crucial for the health of the sport to keep Rossi on the grid for as long as possible.
The Italian also went on to say that he would not rule out a shock return to a Japanese manufacturer. When asked on the subject Rossi commented:
“[It is] not very likely but who knows? I won't say it's impossible, but we [Ducati] started this project and want to win something.”
Rossi, who will be 33-years-old on February 16, finished seventh in last year's world championship with one podium and suffered his first winless season in grand prix.
The new 2012 1000cc Ducati is to feature a twin-spar aluminium frame, as used by the Japanese MotoGP bikes with which Rossi won 79 grands prix from 2000-2010.