Valentino Rossi's future has been dominating the news now for weeks, if not months, with all the talk being of Rossi's impending switch to Ducati. But lost in all this talk of next year is Valentino Rossi's longer term future, and what he will do when he retires from MotoGP. It has widely been assumed by both media and fans that Rossi will make the transition to four wheels after racing on two, with Ferrari making no secret of their wish to retain the Italian, even going so far as to hint at the possibility of running a third car in Formula One for the Italian legend. If Rossi decided against Formula One, there was always the World Rally Championship, as rallying is Rossi's other great passion.
But recent indications are that retiring from MotoGP may not see the end of Valentino Rossi's life on two wheels. In an interview with Italian veteran journalist Paolo Scalera in the sports daily Corriere dello Sport, Rossi was asked to imagine it was 25 years from now, and he is looking back at his career, and in his imaginary future career, Rossi talked about rejecting F1 in favor of going racing in World Superbikes. His reasoning was simple and clear: "Bikes are for racing, cars are for fun," Rossi told the Corriere dello Sport, adding weight to the possibility ofa future switch to the rival series once he has completed his objective of beating Giacomo Agostini's records in MotoGP.
Rossi's tests aboard a Yamaha World Superbike at Misano and Brno, to check his fitness and whether he would be able to make a return to racing at the Sachsenring - something he did with great success - have added even more fuel to the WSBK fire, which lead journalists at Laguna Seca to question the nine-time world champion about his plans to race in World Superbikes. Here is what he was asked by the assembled press, and what he had to say about it.
Q: You were very fast on the Superbike. There were rumors a few years ago that you wanted to race against Troy Bayliss...
Valentino Rossi: Yes! I want to make a race in Superbikes. After the story with Bayliss appeared I was happy. But for me is interesting, maybe in the future I will do this.
Q: To ride with Biaggi or the guys in Superbike?
VR: I want to make a race in Superbikes, for me it's not important if is with Biaggi, Bayliss, or somebody else.
Q: When you rode the R1, certainly in Brno, your lap times were immediately very fast even though you were not at 100% and you had no experience of Pirelli tires, what do you think your performance showed about the difference between the level of riders in World Superbikes and the level of riders in MotoGP?
VR: For me, our level is clearly higher than Superbikes. No doubt. I don't know the people that continue to say that we have a fight with the two. So, the best riders race in MotoGP, and the Superbike motorcycles are easier to ride, Pirelli are more easy than Bridgestone. But at the same time, I have the sense that it's fun, the bike is big, is fat, slide, move everywhere. The races are fun, have a lot of very good riders over there, so is for that that I enjoy a lot Superbike. But I don't want to make a ranking, because MotoGP, the level is higher, this is clear.
Q: Speaking to Ben Spies, he says doing one Grand Prix is more difficult than doing two Superbike races in one day.
VR: Yes. When I ride the Superbike and Pirelli, it's like I return around 2003, 2004 for us: Big bike, sliding tires, you can make some mistake but recover. So especially the rhythm of the race, so you can win also if you don't make a perfect start or if you make some mistake. With MotoGP, from start to the end, is just one breath, you know. I think this is the bigger difference.
Q: When we switched to MotoGP, you said that 500 was a lot more difficult to ride. Do you think the same now?
Now for me, the bigger difficulty is the Bridgestone tires. You have to ride always thinking about the tires, and you have to make always the right procedure to put the tire in temperature. In fact, this year, a lot of big crashes is for that reason. 500 was more difficult the bike. Because it was more aggressive and no traction control, so, about bike the 500 remain more difficult.