Nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has signed a new two-year deal to remain with Yamaha’s factory team through 2020. News of the agreement comes as the 39-year-old gets set for his 13th season with Yamaha.
“When I signed my last contract with Yamaha, in March 2016, I wondered if that would have been the last contract as a MotoGP rider,” said Rossi, whose contract was due to expire at the end of 2018. “At that time, I decided that I’d take that decision during the following two years. During the last two years I came to the conclusion that I want to continue because racing, being a MotoGP rider, but especially riding my M1, is the thing that makes me feel good.
“Having the opportunity to work with my team, with Silvano, Matteo and all my mechanics, and working with all Japanese engineers, Tsuji-san, and above all Tsuya-san, is a pleasure – I’m happy.
“I want to thank Yamaha – Lin Jarvis and Maio Meregalli in particular – for their trust in me, because the challenge is difficult, being competitive until I’m 40 years old! I know it’s going to be difficult and it requires a lot of effort from my side and a lot of training but I’m ready, I am not lacking in motivation, that’s why I’m signing for two more years.”
Valentino Rossi will start his 23rd racing season this weekend… and there are many more impressive achievements to come in the next two years with Yamaha!#MovistarYamaha | #MotoGP | #QatarGP | @ValeYellow46 pic.twitter.com/PihGMmNxbx
— Yamaha MotoGP (@YamahaMotoGP) March 15, 2018
As Yamaha’s most successful rider, Rossi has earned 56 wins, 43 second-place finishes and 35 third places in 2016 races with the team. He earned six podium finishes in 2017 before injuries – including a broken tibia and fibula in an August training crash – interrupted his hopes of earning a 10th championship.
While Movistar Yamaha re-signed teammate Maverick Vinales to a new two-year deal in the offseason, Rossi and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP managing director Lin Jarvis stayed in touch on contract issues. But the expectation was clear that Rossi would return, and Jarvis said reaching an agreement was “very easy.”
“The news may not be a great surprise because Valentino has made it clear that he wanted to continue to race, but the reconfirmation will surely come as welcome news for his millions of fans around the world,” Jarvis said.
“It was very easy to reach an agreement together – as a factory team we need top riders capable to win and with the total commitment to do what it takes to achieve the goal. Despite his many years in the sport and his 39 years, Vale is as committed today as he ever was and there is no doubt he is still a top rider, as witnessed most recently by his second position in the final pre-season test here in Qatar. Now it is our job as a team and a factory to give him the best possible YZR-M1 to let him fight for race wins and championship success.
“Having both Maverick and Valentino now signed for 2019-20 allows us to just focus all of our energy on the 2018 season and to be strong contenders at every single MotoGP Grand Prix. It promises to be a highly competitive season and like all the fans – we in Yamaha are truly excited to go racing on Sunday night here in Losail.”