Valentino Rossi has given his reaction to the news that former MotoGP arch-rival Max Biaggi is to retire from racing, at the age of 41 and as the reigning double World Superbike Champion.
The on- and off-track rivalry between Rossi and fellow Italian Biaggi was the focal point for grand prix racing during the final years of 500cc and start of MotoGP.
Relations became less hostile when Sete Gibernau
took over as Rossi's closest competitor from 2003 onwards, with Biaggi leaving grand prix under controversial circumstances at the end of 2005.
Biaggi, a four-time champion in the 250cc class, announced on Wednesday that he is bringing his career to a close in order to spend more time with his family.
"For me with Biaggi it was like a special relationship, because we were great, great rivals for a long period," began Rossi. "Fighting for the championship in 500cc and then in MotoGP. It was a very exciting fight with him.
"I think the year when we were more close was 2001 because it was the last season with the 500 two-strokes and everybody wanted to win that historic championship. The battle was very, very hard on the track and also off the track!
"Out of the track our relationship was not fantastic, but anyway he was a great rival for me.
"It is useless to speak about his retirement as another rider, because every rider knows the right moment to stop... Anyway it remains good memories and great battles together."
Max may not have beaten Rossi to the MotoGP title, but a Biaggi fan and friend by the name of Jorge Lorenzo
is now the newly crowned double world champion in the premier-class.
"As you know I admire Biaggi a lot, because I think he is a special rider with a very pure technique. Very smooth. Maybe the smoothest I have ever seen," said Lorenzo, who was present to support Biaggi during his final WSBK appearance.