Valentino Rossi has acknowledged he is one step closer to retirement. In an interview to be broadcast Italian TV channel Mediaset, the Italian said that the early tests and the first six races of 2014 would be crucial to the future of his career.

“In 2014 I need to be at the front, closer to the first three,” Rossi said, referring to the Spanish trio of Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who dominated the 2013 MotoGP season.

He has not lost his appetite for racing, Rossi told Italian TV, but he was not content just to circulate. “I would like to continue for another couple of years, but only if I’m competitive.”

The announcement does not come as a surprise, coming hard on the heels of Rossi’s decision to drop Jeremy Burgess as crew chief. At Valencia, Rossi had explained that move as the need to find “a new boost, some more motivation.”

“I know that it is a key moment because I have in my mind that I want to try one time in another way and I think this is the moment,” Rossi told the media.

In the interview with Mediaset, Rossi skirted round the affair with Burgess, while hinting at deeper-seated problems. “Explaining too many details of what went wrong would be a problem. It’s better to think this is just a rider tantrum,” Rossi joked. The decision to drop Burgess looks increasingly like eliminating the final variable before reaching a conclusion about his own ability.

Rossi had already told the press at Valencia that the first few races of 2014 would be crucial, but he had now set a deadline. The date of that deadline is in itself ominous: the sixth race of the 2014 season will be at Mugello, the circuit which is closest to Rossi’s heart, and a track where he once dominated, winning seven races in a row between 2002 and 2008.

It is also the circuit where Rossi broke his leg in 2010, the first injury of his career serious enough to force him to miss races. If Rossi cannot stay with the three Spaniards at Mugello in 2014, then a retirement announcement seems inevitable. Sunday night at Mugello could be a very emotional experience indeed.

Source: Sport Mediaset; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Phil

    Looks like he honestly believe that a change of crew chief is the answer then. 6 more races eh!.. Well those young whipper snappers will all be stronger and faster next year. Might as well save yourself 6 races.
    It’ll be a shame and the end of an era… but the biology is catching up and the timing sheets aren’t looking so good.

    But he’ll always be a legend to the sport.

  • Mike

    Retirement seems more likely than a series transfer, but he’s probably still got the chops to clean up in WSBK for another nine titles….

  • manny varela

    Rossi has proved enough.
    But theres a new breed of riders
    that are faster,and perhaps even more skilled.
    You cant be the top dog forever,
    times go on,
    things change,
    and in time
    6 races will define the future?
    kind of silly..

  • Halfie30

    I hope he goes to WSBK so all the other riders who are done in MotoGP only they can do the same.

    Edwards, Hayden, maybe a Spies comeback… Would love to see those guys getting sideways with each other.

  • L2C

    He’s not going to retire next year. I’m sure of it. He has had a full season to scope the field and assess his equipment and crew. He has done nothing but improve. With a race win notched into his belt against the current World Champion and nowhere to go but up, because he’s certainly not going backwards, he’s going to find the performance he needs to remain a viable contender to the championship.

    Rossi is unlike any other. He knows it and he’s out to prove it. There is every indication that he will succeed.

    It’s unfortunate that all of the journos, who are themselves up for retirement, are measuring Rossi according to their own mental and biological programming. Doubts are the one thing that Rossi is not wrong to have, but he knows that he still has what it takes. This informed his decision to let Burgess go. And it is much clearer now that Burgess lasted this long only because it made transitioning from Ducati back to Yamaha much easier. If Rossi went back to Yamaha purely on his own terms, most likely Burgess would have said his last goodbyes at Valencia 2012. But Rossi allowed Burgess a full season to prove himself, now Rossi has set a 6 race limit to prove himself for that bit extra, because he knows that overall his performance this season was more than acceptable. Now it’s about the final few yards — or few tenths, as it were.

    Barring injury, Rossi is going to make up the distance and then some. And Yamaha now has every incentive to help him do it.

    Jorge is no longer world champion. Valentino and Jorge are again on equal terms.

    “Explaining too many details of what went wrong would be a problem. It’s better to think this is just a rider tantrum,” Rossi joked.

    Rossi is not going to turn a business decision into a soap opera for the masses, nor for the incontinent media… He is not out to humiliate Burgess or himself. And there was not a better way to let Burgess go. Because if there was, both Rossi and Burgess would have agreed to it. That’s why Rossi is happy to play the part of whiny little brat. Besides, he is the one who is still in the game – who actually wants to be there. This is the notable and unsaid difference between the two men.

  • BrianZ

    So, the silly season betting pool ramps up on Rossi for after the 2014 GP season the weekend before Mugello, and I hope ( like others) he chooses to go run around in the WSBK championship if he continues to run in 4th. Unless there are injuries to MM or Jorge, I don’t expect he is likely to snipe either one unless it is raining. The variable will of course be Dani IMHO.

  • TonyC

    It’s sad to see an era coming to a close. I do think the future has already been decided for Rossi, the moment he thought about making a decision after six races.

  • Adrian

    Good luck being competitive with the current rules Vale. With the lean burn 21 litres of fuel crap pushed by the manufacturers, anyone over 5′ 9″ and 140 has no shot. If the age factor wasn’t tough enough, you have to contend with a fuel shortage. As Schwantz said “If you wanna learn about lean burn, do it somewhere else.”

  • paulus

    Philosophically… isn’t every race ‘one step closer to retirement’… even your first race? :)

    VR hype. It will probably bring in more marks to watch the ‘potentially last’ few races.
    Sell more T-shirts and caps.

  • smiler

    Very sensible. Clearly he knows that the changes he can make are his crew chief and his fitness.

    if he does retire I think we will see him managing a team in MotoGP within 2-3 years seeing as he owns a moto3 team.

    For those who think that the young riders are more talented then it would be fascinating to put them on a 500. The new bikes are faster but clearly easier to ride. The elecronics make them predictable and all the ancillaries are so much better.

    For those that slag off Rossi, he was still 4th in the series. merguez looks a behaves like a child with no personality. It also means there is potential for an all Spanish podium next year for most races. Sorry but the Spanish are not know for their excitment. Italians, American and Brits however are. It is entertainment as well.

  • Wolf

    Heheh…. I laugh at all those with tall poppy seed syndrome.
    He’s a 9 times World Champion. Who are you?

    Arguably the greatest (or one of the greatest) of all time. i.e: The GOAT.
    I wish him well.
    I look forward to whatever he does, and may or may not accomplish.
    It’s just gravy now.
    The rest… THE REST… can try to catch up to such a career.

    WLF46 is a living Legend in the Sports World.

  • @L2C:

    “He’s not going to retire next year. I’m sure of it.”

    I’m not sure how you can be more certain than Vale is. You have crystal balls?

    “he’s going to find the performance he needs to remain a viable contender to the championship.”

    I hope so, but good luck with that. As much as I’ve loved watching him race since his very first 125 days, I sincerely doubt he’s running at the pace of the 3 aliens.

    “Valentino and Jorge are again on equal terms.”

    He certainly hopes so, but he also has enough doubt that he’s imposed a 6-race limit on getting results. I think, deep down inside, he knows his days are up. Much like Mark Webber stepped out of F1 at the end of this season because he knew that even being a few tenths off the pace all the time is enough to be second tier. If Vale can’t produce 1st-tier results within the first six races – which is kind of doubtful – he’ll bow out gracefully.

    I don’t see any problem with that. We all have our best-before dates. Vale may be creeping up on or have passed his already. If so, it certainly doesn’t take ANYTHING away from all he has accomplished over an unimaginably successful career.

  • L2C

    Trane, sometimes you’re just a bozo. You’re always looking for a reason to condescend.

    At any rate, 6 podiums is nothing to overlook. One win. One 2nd place. Four 3rd place finishes and eight 4th place finishes. Sneeze at that, if you like, but Rossi had a stellar season by any measure.

    If you and the other bozos who choose to overlook consistent improving results, that’s on you. Good thing that Rossi still has faith in himself, because if he had to depend on the likes of you and the fair weather moto media, he would have been lost a long time ago.

    Setting a timeline to get something done is the mark of a someone who manages their shit. Seeing it through is the mark of someone who follows through on the goals that he has set for himself. And if there is anything that Rossi has done in this year of 2013, he has made good on all of the goals that he set at the end of last year.

    So, whatever, dude. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t matter. Valentino sees it, otherwise he wouldn’t even have given himself 6 months.

  • L2C

    This is what Rossi was quoted as saying:

    “If I’m here and I want to keep racing, I will have to stay ahead in 2014, closer to the first three. From February to June, the tests and the first six races will be crucial for deciding whether to continue or stop racing in MotoGP at the end of the season. I’d like to continue for another couple of years, but only if they are competitive.”

    At no time did he say that he has imposed on himself a “6-race limit on getting results”.

    Cut the crap.

  • “You’re always looking for a reason to condescend.”

    L2C, I’m sorry you feel that way; I’m just having a discussion. Perhaps you’re only happy when people agree with you. This is the second time you’ve resorted to name-calling with me. That defines you, not me.

    I wish you a pleasant day.

  • L2C

    Resorted? How about retorted?

    Yes, much better.

    If anybody appreciates a good argument it’s me. I am agreeable to that. You can disagree and still make a good point that I would respect. But the condescension to elevate your opinion at the expense of mine? It’s typical of your style and something that I usually overlook. But for at least the second time, I decided to bring it to your attention because when is it ever going to end? I don’t expect it to.

  • Don’t know what to say other than you’re reading tone into the message that just isn’t there. That happens in a text-based medium, so I’m not going to take it personally. You’ll either accept it or you won’t. *shrug*

    I sincerely hope that Vale finds his pace and decides to stay. I think the paddock is a better place with him both quick and happy. That said, I’m sticking to my earlier comment in comparing his possible departure with that of Mark Webber at the end of this season. Webber was hardly slow, finishing 2nd in the final race of the season, but still was happy to bow out knowing that he simply wasn’t as fast as the fastest guys on the grid.

    If Vale decides to bow out in similar fashion for similar reason, I certainly won’t find any fault in that. That is all. I hardly see any reason to bicker.

  • Hansfrax

    @L2C: Did you just try to correct the correct usage of the word, resorted?

    Then again like Francks says, maybe I’m reading tone into the message that just isn’t there…

  • Westward

    I think its been a very methodical approach to solving the issues that may be plaguing Rossi. This past season he was practically on the wrong tyres every race. I’m guessing that is mostly a crew decision.

    As much as I like Burgess and believe him to be a genius, he was the wrong person to lead Rossi’s effort at Ducati.
    Rossi’s podiums this past season and victory at Assen proves he has what it takes. He just needs that extra step, like proper tyre selection.

    Rossi has won nearly every battle fought for fourth position. If the crew could get the bike at the front, Rossi would win all those battles there too.

    Lets not kid here, there are only four bikes that could win in MotoGP. The four best pilots are atop of those bikes. If Cal, Alvaro, or even Aleix were on factory machinery even they might be battling for podiums. But they still won’t beat Rossi.

    Burgess once said it was 80% pilot and 20% bike that wins races. I thinks its more like 60% pilot, 25% bike, and 15% tyres….

  • Jw

    Trane & L2C


    How bout you guys take your constant conflict with each other to a one on one email. Do you really think the general population of this forum wants to keep reading your “know it all” bickering at each other? When I see your names each time, I wonder if the same kind of nonsense seen so many times before will surface again.

    This is getting old, real old..

  • “This is getting old, real old..”

    Ain’t that the truth. :-\

  • L2C


    Forget the tone and read into the different meanings of the two words.

  • Far Canal

    Maybe Yamaha told him to buck up his game a bit or he won’t be signed for 2015 – I’m sure Yamaha is looking for the next Marquez (Alex?) rather than hanging on to a rider who is at the end of a brilliant career – sponsorship will only get you so far.