The nine-time world champion will attend a special ceremony during his home Italian Grand Prix, at Mugello later this month.

The official statement from Dorna is as follows:

'The number 46 will be retired from use in the MotoGP class at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello. Synonymous with nine-time World Champion and MotoGP Legend Valentino Rossi, the number will be signed off in style at the upcoming Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley.

'The retirement ceremony will take place on the main straight on Saturday, just ahead of qualifying. Rossi will be in attendance as his legacy is honoured and number retired, having raced the number 46 into the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame over 26 seasons of success – creating one of the most recognisable calling cards in global sport.

'The ‘Doctor’ took nine World Championships, 115 wins and 235 podiums across all classes as he played a key role in redefining the sport for millions of fans around the world. Retiring at the end of the 2021 season, he was inducted into the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame in Valencia and his number will now join him as a spectator enjoying the world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship.'

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Valentino Rossi in 2016: 'Don't retire my 46'

Earlier in his career, Rossi suggested he didn't want the #46 retired once he stepped away from the sport:

"About my number [46], I was thinking... my first impression is that I don't like that the 46 is cancelled. I prefer that it remains and if some other rider wants to take that number they can."

Marco Simoncelli's #58, Nicky Hayden's #69 and Kevin Schwantz's #34 are among the other numbers retired from use in the premier-class.

Joan Mir: Everywhere in the world, number 46 is Valentino

Reacting to today's announcement, 2020 world champion Joan Mir said:

"Of course when you think about 46, in every part of the world, it's the number of Valentino. But if I was Valentino, if a young guy wears the 46, it's nice.

"So I don't know. I think it shows respect to him [to retire it], but I don't know his opinion. In my case [for the #36], I don't care."

Meanwhile on four-wheels...

Rossi is currently competing in the latest round of the GT World Challenge at Magny-Cours this weekend, suffering this incident in qualifying: