Just over a month ago today, Valentino Rossi vowed to stop talking about his future in the press. But like everyone who has vowed to give up smoking or lose weight at the start of a new year, Rossi has found that such resolutions can be incredibly difficult to maintain. For at the ceremony on Thursday night where Rossi was presented with the "Winning Italy Award" in recognition of his work in improving Italy's public image abroad, Rossi was once again tempted into making statements on where he will be riding next season.
In response to questions about how much longer he will stay in MotoGP, the Italian living legend put the fears of MotoGP fans and organizers to rest: "I am again enjoying the sport and the desire to compete, so I think I will continue for some more years," Rossi told the press. Rossi could not avoid the question on all of Italy's mind, either. When asked about a potential switch to Ducati, Rossi was very clear: "An Italian on an Italian bike would be nice, yes. But I think I want to stay with Yamaha, which is also a little bit Italian. I would feel like a traitor if I acted any other way, because I feel very good with them."
Rossi also briefly discussed the challenges he faces in 2010, comparing his chief rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner to the rivals he faced in the past. "The young riders in Stoner and Lorenzo seem to me to be more prepared than the old adversaries of [Max] Biaggi and [Sete] Gibernau." When asked who he thought would prove the toughest challenger this year, Rossi replied: "Perhaps Stoner, but only because Jorge is injured and will need a few Grands Prix to fully recover."
The Italian naturally faced comparisons with that other Italian legend, Giacomo Agostini, who was also present to receive a prize, but Rossi waved such comparisons away as impossible to make. "To race where Giacomo raced requires the kind of courage that we simply do not face today."