Italian megastar Valentino Rossi completed the end of an era on Sunday with third place in Valencia’s MotoGP climax, his 117th and final outing aboard the YZR-M1 – completing his Yamaha victory tally at 46.
Rossi, poised to switch to Ducati on Tuesday, celebrated by stopping to kiss the Yamaha one final time on the cool down lap in scenes reminiscent of his debut win on the bike in South Africa, 2004.
“Arriving on the podium was my way to say thank you to my bike, to Yamaha and to all the people who have worked with me in these seven seasons,” 31-year-old Rossi commented. “It’s been a great experience and I have enjoyed it so much. 46 is a great number of wins – of course I wanted more but I think I can be happy with what I have done here.
“We have finished the season strongly with five podiums in a row and after such a difficult season we can feel happy about how we have ended. It’s been a wonderful seven years, great fun with a special atmosphere, many fantastic victories and four world championships.
“I stopped with my bike after the race today just like I did at Welkom when this story began, it was the right way to say goodbye to ‘her’. Thank you to everyone, we have wonderful memories.”
Rossi believes that he could have won his final outing for Yamaha at Valencia’s season-ending MotoGP round on Sunday, however had to settle for third due to a lack of fitness in the closing stages of the race.
“Honestly I’m happy with this final result with Yamaha, because we had a difficult weekend here,” he explained. “I didn’t get a good start but I realised straight away that I was much faster today and that my bike felt good.
“At one point I thought I might be able to win but in the later part of the race I just didn’t have enough strength to stay with [Jorge] Lorenzo and [Casey] Stoner, this is a very hard track when you’re not completely fit. I started to make a few mistakes because I didn’t have enough power to stop the bike so after a bit I decided it was better to slow down and keep my third place.”
Rossi’s team manager Davide Brivio, who announced at Valencia that he would be moving into rider management next year, was happy with Rossi’s result.
“I think we had a very good race with Valentino after a difficult weekend,” Brivio said. “The team worked really hard and we finally found a good setting for the race. Unfortunately Valentino’s physical condition, when all the riders are on the limit, meant he had to pay the price today and couldn’t fight right to the end but we were very competitive and that’s what we wanted for our last race.
“This is the last race with Yamaha for many of us, including me – my 19-year experience with Yamaha finishes here. I just want to thank Yamaha and everybody who worked together with us, they have been years that I will never forget.”
Rossi will make his debut aboard a dark livery Desmosedici GP10 on Tuesday.
Check out this link on MotoOnline.com.au to see a film of Rossi retailing each of his wonder years with the YZR-M1.