Rossi on rivals, 10th title regrets, Sunday's special date…

Valentino Rossi reflects on his greatest MotoGP rivals, regrets, Sunday's special date and the significance of the number 9 in his career.
Valentino Rossi Valencia MotoGP. 11 November 2021
Valentino Rossi Valencia MotoGP. 11 November 2021
© Gold and Goose Photography

Ahead of his 432nd and final grand prix at Valencia, MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi reflected on the rivalries and main regret during his illustrious racing career.

A winner of nine world titles and 115 grands prix, the Italian said his only real disappointment is falling short of a tenth world championship.

The Doctor finished title runner-up on no less than six occasions, twice losing out at the very final round, in 2006 (to Nicky Hayden) and 2015 (to Jorge Lorenzo).

It is that 2015 loss, during a bitter end to the season in which he accused Marc Marquez of favouring Lorenzo, that he laments the most.

However, in contrast to past interviews, he chose not to repeat the Marquez-Lorenzo criticism, adding 'I cannot complain'.

"For sure I fight a lot to try to win the tenth championship," Rossi said. "I was able to race in a good level also after my last championship is 2009, and 2009 is one life ago.

"I am very happy if I can win another championship, maybe like in 2015 for example, to make my life longer as a world champion. This is important. Also number 10 is like closing the circle.

"But it's like this. I cannot complain."

Rossi also had no public criticism for any of his past rivals, insisting they had taken him to new heights and that he remembers their duels in a 'positive, special' way.

"The rivalry in all the sports at the top level and maybe especially MotoGP is something you don't like a lot, but is fantastic for give the maximum and overtake your limits and find something inside that maybe you don’t know you have," Rossi said.

"I have great, great rivalry in my career. I enjoy a lot. Especially the first part because I won more. The second part I lose more. But anyway, I enjoy. I want to say [the best] was with Biaggi, because two Italians and also in Italy have a great movement around.

"But also with Stoner, Lorenzo, at then at the end with Marquez, and with all the guys in the last years I always enjoy. It's something that after you remember in a positive way, as something special.

"Also from Austria when I said I would stop I've had a lot of great messages and support, especially from the other riders, past and present. And all my rivals, this is very good. Was great.

"It's also a great pleasure to have all the guys here, my MotoGP rivals that raced with me in this last season and with a lot of them for a long time [before that]. It's a great sign, I'm so happy.

"For sure we will stay together and have a good relationship in the future. This is the best thing I think."

Rossi added that it wasn't a total shock the tenth title had eluded him, considering the frequency the number 9 features in his career results.

"The number 9 is in my career numbers a lot, because it's 89 victories in MotoGP and 199 podiums," Rossi said. "When I did the podium in Jerez in 2020 it was my 199 and I say 'maybe it's the last' because I want to try to arrive to 200 but it's okay.

"I cannot complain because it's a long, long career and a lot of seasons fighting for the championship or fighting for important positions. When you ride a MotoGP and can fight for the victory it's always great fun and a great pleasure."

The date of Rossi's final race, this Sunday, November 14, represents another numerical quirk.

"Maybe it’s a sign or just a coincidence. Anyway, it's the last race and when we add up 14+11+21 we say 'f**k, it's 46!' It's good," Rossi smiled.

"It was not easy to convince God!" he joked. "During my career, I've had a lot of things relative to the numbers that are very positive like this."

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