After announcing he will retire from MotoGP at the end of this season, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi was inundated with an 'incredible' number of messages on Thursday evening.

Among those paying tribute to the #46 and wishing him well for the future were fellow sporting stars from Formula 1 and Football.

But Rossi said the 'best' messages he received were those by his former rivals such as Casey Stoner, Max Biaggi, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.

 

 

"Yesterday was very emotional and especially in the evening it was great because I received a lot, a lot, a lot of messages from all around the world," Rossi said on Friday afternoon at the Styrian Grand Prix.

"I expected a lot of messages for sure because when I do a good race I have, but yesterday was incredible. From my close friends, but also from other sports, like Formula One, Soccer.

"And especially I received a lot of messages from my old rivals, that are the best because Stoner sent me a message, and Biaggi, Lorenzo, Dovi also. It was great. I was very happy."

Like Biaggi, Stoner and Lorenzo, eight time world champion Marc Marquez has also been embroiled in some bitter on and off-track feuds with Rossi, to put it mildly.

But speaking on Friday, the Repsol Honda star also put aside their personal differences to recognise the immense contribution the Italian 'legend' has made to MotoGP and wish him the best for the future: 

"Yesterday, my bet was another one, I thought [Rossi] would continue one more year with his team," Marquez said. "For me, we lose something, we lose part of MotoGP, maybe the biggest part of MotoGP, because Valentino always brings a lot of people, he did many good things inside of the track but also outside of the track.

"Everybody knows that our personal relationship is not the best one, and everybody has his way, but I don't have any problem and I can recognise that we are losing something big in MotoGP. Lucky for MotoGP that he will still be involved in the world, but if we evaluate his career, his 25-year career, it's something special, unique, and a legend.

"So congrats to him for his career, and I wish the best for the future."

Told about the nature of Marquez's comments, made just before Rossi met with the media, the 42-year-old responded, "I'm happy".

On track, Rossi finished day one of the Styrian MotoGP  with 16th (+1.459) and then 22nd (+3.278s) places during a rain interrupted Friday in Austria.

"Not so bad. In FP1 which was full dry I was quite good, also because I don’t change the tyres at the end," said the Petronas Yamaha rider. "I felt quite comfortable with the bike. My pace was not too bad.

"In the afternoon at the beginning with the full wet I was not too bad, but when it became dry the situation is very difficult for us because we suffer very much for traction and I think that it's a problem of more-or-less all the Yamahas. In this condition we suffer very much because we lose in acceleration and in that condition I was quite slow.

"So for Sunday we hope for a dry race or full wet, not half and half."

Asked about the safety of the Red Bull Ring in the wet, the 42-year-old added: "When the amount of water becomes too much it's dangerous at any circuit and here for sure have Turn 3 that is after a hard braking, so with too much water it will be dangerous.

"But I think it's like all the other tracks, it depends how much it rains."

Temporary team-mate Cal Crutchlow, replacing the inured Franco Morbidelli, was 23rd and 20th in the two track sessions.