Losail, Qatar - Motorcycle Grand Prix great Valentino Rossi, who turned 39 on 16 February and is about to embark on his 23nd season of world championship racing, has finally confirmed (albeit indirectly) that he plans to retire at the end of the 2020 season.
After the news broke that Tech 3 team principal Herve Poncharal, who has been racing Yamahas with factory assistance for 18 years, had accepted an offer ‘too good to refuse’ from another manufacturer, and would part ways with the Triple Tuning Fork at the end of the 2018 season, the rumour mill went into overdrive.
Would Rossi’s VR46 outfit, already active in Moto3 and Moto2, grab the two slots on the grid (and the two spare 2019-spec Yamaha M1s already on order for Tech3), put two of his proteges in their saddles, making ‘The Doctor’ the elder statesman of motorcycle Grands Prix that he so richly deserves to be, as did his hero Giacomo Agostini?
Would he, hell.
Rossi is notoriously reserved about his future - he prefers to do his talking on the circuit - but when asked a direct question he usually gives a straight answer.