Statement By Valentino Rossi After The Motegi Race

The full text of a statement released by Valentino Rossi after the Motegi race. Contains details of the race.

Yamaha Racing issued a press release with an interview with Valentino Rossi after he clinched his 6th MotoGP world title. It offers a fascinating insight into the mind of a world champion, and hints at his future. Here it is, in full:

Further information World Title Valentino Rossi

“I think it’s difficult to say, but maybe this is even better than the first championship with Yamaha in 2004. In 2004 I arrived after three championships in a row; the change was very big and no one expected me to win then, not even us to be honest! But this year is great too because I didn’t start as the number one favourite after losing for two years. The taste of this is something special.

“In 2006 I lost because of bad luck; I still won the most races and was the fastest on track for most of the time, but in 2007 Stoner was a lot faster than us and so we got to the end with a big of disadvantage. Winning this championship was very difficult but also very, very important.

“The decision to change to Bridgestone tyres, which I took together with Jeremy, my team and all the Yamaha crew, was very important, as were the changes to the bike because the first 800cc M1 last year was not competitive enough. We spoke a lot during last season and I remember a strange meeting in Valencia last year, me with a broken hand, speaking with Furusawa about 2008. From then we started to work on the improvements for this season. It’s also been important to have the right people in the right place and this year everything has been correct. It’s been step-by-step.

“I think I have made a lot of good decisions this year and we have been competitive from the start. Qatar was the worst race of the season but I knew our potential was good so, although we were a bit worried at that point, we weren’t desperate because we knew if we fixed a few problems we could try to win.

“I grew up a lot in the last two years, because at the end of 2005 I had a great career and I had won all the important targets so far. 125, 250 and then five titles in a row in MotoGP with two different bikes – I felt unbeatable. But in 2006 and 2007 I learnt to lose and this has been very important. I came out much stronger and my level of concentration and effort to win this championship has been higher than ever before.

“This season has had some different periods. At the beginning of the year we had some important results when Bridgestone wasn’t the strongest: Jerez, Portugal and others, and in that period we took a big advantage from Stoner. After Barcelona Casey started to ride like a demon and dominated three races in a row, and then we went to Laguna which was the turning point of the season. Laguna was a real battle and from then on we have flown.

“The show after the race was one of my friends pretending to be a ‘notary’, signing and certificating the eighth championship ‘deed’. It was very exciting to be planning the championship t-shirt and celebration once again with my friends and fan club and the one we came up with is funny I think, it says ‘I’m sorry for the delay!’

“I am very content at Yamaha and this is why I signed for two more years. I had some good offers at other factories, but I already changed bike once and proved everything I wanted to and so there is no need to do that again. Also I am no longer 20 years old and I need a good atmosphere in my team in order to keep me focused and happy, and I have this at Yamaha. The atmosphere in our team, from the Japanese all the way down to the garage is fantastic and this is what makes me want to stay.

“I think 2009 will be even more difficult than this year. Now I am the world champion again and I have demonstrated that I am still very fast; I think I rode the best of my career this year apart from the mistake in Assen, but next year is another story, it depends on how the winter is and how Stoner, Pedrosa and also Lorenzo are next year, as well as the other riders because there are many fast people in this championship. I think it will be a great championship and I’m looking forward to it, but first I want to finish this year and try to win the final three races!

“As I said, there are many strong riders but of course I hope that in the future nobody will win like Valentino Rossi! Maybe my brother Luca will be as strong as me…I wanted to take him on my bike on the celebration lap, but they did not allow it. Maybe I will wait for him to be a MotoGP rider before quitting, then I will beat him in the first year, and then I will stop riding!

“When you are 20 or 22 yrs old, you live everything in a different way. It’s different… In 2000, maybe, I could have won on my debut, but I underestimated myself! In 2001 it was the last chance for me to win in 500, so I gave it my best and did that. In 2001 it was the year of the battle with Biaggi, in 2002 it was the year when everybody said that I won because of my bike, then 2003 was the year of Gibernau, it was hard until the end. They were fantastic years but with Yamaha it is different. I enjoy it more.

“During 2003 I started thinking about Yamaha. Of course I was scared about the new challenge, it was a big question mark. This year, when I tested the new bike and the new tyres, I understood that I could win. In 2004, however, when I tested the new bike I understood we had to work a lot. Sincerely, the feeling of winning in Welkom in 2004 was the strongest emotion of my career; more so than in Laguna Seca this year. The 2005 the M1 was very fast and that one and the 2008 one are the best Yamaha bikes ever.

“I think Stoner next year will be back stronger again, so maybe he is the hardest rival I have ever had, more than Gibernau and all the others I fought against in the past. Last year I was sorry that after so many successful years, some people thought Valentino was finished and Casey was the new Valentino. As I said, until I stop riding a bike, my objective will always be to win. I like this life and I always try to do my best in it.”

Statistiscs on Valentino Rossi's career

 In becoming only the second rider ever to win the MotoGP World Championship following a two-year gap, Valentino Rossi has cemented his place amongst the legends of motorcycle racing. A return to the form that won him five consecutive premier-class titles between 2001 and 2005 has seen the Italian reinstated at the very pinnacle of the sport, with a host of career milestones reached along the way.

Here is a full list of Rossi’s historic MotoGP achievements in 2008:

Rossi has joined Giacomo Agostini as one of only two riders to have taken six or more premier-class World Championships.

Rossi is only the second rider to regain the premier-class title after a two year gap – the other rider to do this was also Agostini.

This is Rossi’s eighth world title across all classes. Only Agostini with 15, Angel Nieto, with 13, Mike Hailwood and Carlos Ubbiali, with nine each, have won more.

Rossi is the first rider to win the premier-class title on four different types of motorcycle: 500cc 4-cylinder two-stroke, 990cc 5-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 990cc 4-cylinder four-stroke and a Yamaha 800cc 4-cylinder four-stroke.

It is eleven years since Rossi’s first World Championship success in the 125cc class in 1997. The only rider with a longer period between his first and last titles is Angel Nieto, who won the 50cc crown in 1969 and the 125cc equivalent in 1984.

With his 69th career MotoGP win at Indianapolis, Rossi broke Giacomo Agostini’s record for the most premier-class victories; a record that has stood since the legendary Italian’s final victory at the West German Grand Prix in 1976.

With 37 wins, Rossi has had more success with Yamaha than any other factory in his career

 Rossi is also Yamaha’s most successful rider, having scored 13 more premier-class wins for the factory than Kenny Roberts.

With three races to go he is the only rider to have scored points in every round of the 2008 season.

Rossi’s sequence of five straight race wins since Laguna Seca is his longest run of wins since 2005, when he also scored five successive victories.

Other facts about Rossi’s career.

In 1997 Rossi became the second youngest ever 125cc World Champion after scoring 321 points and eleven wins.

Two years later, he became the youngest ever 250cc World Champion with nine wins.

In 2001 Rossi joined Phil Read as one of only two riders ever to win the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc titles.

Rossi’s debut victory for Yamaha at the opening race of 2004 in South Africa made him the first rider in history to take back-to-back wins for different manufacturers.

After winning the MotoGP World Championship three times with Honda, Rossi took his fourth premier-class title with Yamaha in 2004 and became the only rider other than Eddie Lawson to win consecutive premier-class titles for different manufacturers.

Valentino Rossi - Career
Nationality: Italian
Born: 16th February 1979 in Urbino, Italy
World Championships: 8 (6 x MotoGP/500cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc)
GP victories: 96 (70 x MotoGP/500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
GP podiums: 148 (112 x MotoGP/500cc, 21 x 250cc, 15 x 125cc)
GP Pole Positions: 51 (41 x MotoGP/500cc, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
First GP win: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 207 (146 x MotoGP/50cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)


Statement ends

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Very interesting read and great stats list.

One more that I didn't see there but I think is also a great indicator of his abilities and commitment and a factor in his great success, is breaking and continuing to increase the record of consecutive GP appearances. Biaggis 201 record was broken in Germany I believe and who knows where the total will rise too before Vale takes a break.

A fascinating insight and one that has the resonance of  a candid veracity that is rare in the media-dominated  world of sports reporting. No-one could deny that Rossi had an appalling run of luck, bad package and some mistakes in 2006, nor that Stoner and the Duc package came out of the blue in 2007.  2008 will go down in memory as the year that 800s racing matured and 2009 looks as if it could be a vintage year indeed.

Stoner has been both praised and vilified at times in equal measure by the fans - some of the latter deserved for his inopportune and ill-considered comments which in many cases lacked more grace of expression than genuine ill-feeling or the intention to simply 'moan' or whine but were interpreted as that by the prejudiced. He certainly needs to become much more media-aware and the interaction with Hayden may well be his salvation there.  However, when one looks back at the year and pieces together some of Rossi's other comments I think one can see reinforcement of Rossi's commentary that Stoner may well be the toughest competitor Rossi has truly faced and will continue to face.

In retrospect, Laguna Seca was a turning point for both of them.  Rossi has said that he knew Stoner ' had to be taught a lesson', and that lesson was that youth and skill are no match for old age ( for which of course I mean experience) and treachery (and of course I use the word treachery with tongue in cheek here..).  Rossi's overtake at the Corkscrew was probably the biggest 'head-up, lad' that Stoner has ever had, but it was Rossi's move around the outside that was the 'two' of a one-two lesson in the fact that, fast as he might be, there was more to racing than just riding the wheels off the thing.  I suspect that Rossi did do some subtle brake-checking, to both unsettle Stoner but also to let him know that Rossi has so much more in his bag than most riders will ever have.  It's no wonder that Stoner was so utterly gob-smacked at the end of the race, he'd been slapped on both cheeks and kicked in the bum to boot, just when he thought he was at the top of his game.

If we see - and I believe that we will - that Stoner matures into one of the more memorable riders in premier-class history,   Rossi's comment that 'that's racing, Casey'  will go down as the statement of a lesson that one could not buy for all the gold in the world.  Rossi knew it then, I think Stoner has realised it now, and from his comments, I believe Rossi knows that Stoner has learned - albeit slowly - and will be stronger for it.  Neither Biaggi nor Gibernau were going to learn from Rossi, but if Stoner's career continues well, he can thank Rossi for that lesson.

I believe that Rossi has very genuine respect and no little affection for Stoner as a competitor; the photo of Rossi with his arm around Stoner on the podium at Donington, when Stoner was being booed by the crowd, was I think one of both reassurance to Stoner and also a message to the crowd that Stoner deserved that win, which was an almost flawless ride of great distinction in terrible conditions. The photo of Stoner with his arm around Rossi on the podium at Motegi was I believe equally telling - the body language there from Stoner is one of respect and genuine admiration.

However there is one more, perhaps even more emphatic photograph from Motegi which speaks volumes about how those two racers now interact - the traditional wrist-clasp shake which is only ever done between motorcyclists who share a genuine bond, in parc ferme:

While it won't go down as the greatest of all possible years for premier-class racing, 2008 will I believe be memorable for the year that Rossi proved beyond doubt just how outstanding he is in every possible aspect of motorcycle racing, and also the year that Stoner learned what it will take to graduate from being a hellishly-fast rider to being a rider worthy of ascending to the top class of racers.  Rossi has, I think, indicated that he believes Stoner can do that, now it's up to Stoner to do the rest.  To me, that handshake says it all - it's a rider thing...

Great comments and well stated. I don't want to take away from anything you said but the obsessive part of me has to point out that it was actually Stoner making the pass at the Corkscrew and not the other way round. Stoner tried to stuff it up the inside of turn 8 and left Rossi with no where to go and not enough room to slow down. The only option was to run it through the gravel as Stoner had the edge of the track at that point.


To Rossi's statement: I'm glad I got an explanation of the post race show as I was sitting there the whole time completely lost (as is usually the case with Rossi's celebrations).


Rats - thanks for your nice words - I may have used the wrong name for the corner, I was thinking of the left-hander at the top of the Corkscrew (??) where Rossi took a line well through the gravel and came out ahead of Stoner - to Stoner's evident surprise. I think it may have been a well-calculated move on Rossi's part that Stoner had the skills to actually move aside, because that one could have brought them both down, but again how can you take anything away from Rossi for being able to judge on whom he could make such a pass stick?  

Moot point, I know, but in the totality I think that Stoner finally having his off  will have done his racing career more good than if he had been able to hang on - he must surely have learned more about refining his racing skills and of course, also to deal with the emotional side of a shock defeat, both immediately and in the longer-term tactically of how to come back throughout a full season.   I believe that it took many, many weeks for the lesson handed to him to sink in in all its various aspects and really Motegi, to me, showed that he has started to get it back together.  His comments both before and after the race and his reaction to Rossi taking the title, suggest that at least intuitively if not explicitly he understands that Rossi is the absolute package and that even getting near Rossi is a major achievement of which to be very proud.

Stoner has yet to learn and be able to apply the nuances of tactical skill and racecraft which so much polish Rossi's superb bike-control ability but I strongly suspect we will see a far-better controlled person next year, far more of an assassin than a boy-wonder/blunder and I think Rossi knows that.  If Yam and Duc can deliver eqivalently-competent weapons, we may see some of the best and yet most subtle battles for supremacy since the Rainey-Schwantz days - here's hoping.