MotoGP

Rossi: MotoGP in Italy will be fine “without me”

Rossi has been instrumental in boosting the profile of MotoGP in his native Italy during his 26-season career, and in recent years has helped to build a renaissance in Italian talent in grand prix racing through his VR46 Riders Academy.

The nine-time grand prix motorcycle world champion’s efforts in this area have been on full display over the last week, with protege Francesco Bagnaia taking back-to-back wins – including on home soil at Misano last weekend.

In 2021 Bagnaia will remain as a factory Ducati rider, while another VR46 protégé in Franco Morbidelli will ride for the factory Yamaha squad.

Rossi’s own VR46 team will step up to MotoGP in 2022 with Luca Marini and most likely Marco Bezzecchi, while Gresini will field an all-Italian line-up of Enea Bastianini – who scored his maiden podium at Misano – and Fabio Di Giannantonio.

When asked by Autosport if one of his proudest achievements in his career is the abundance of Italian talent coming through the ranks into MotoGP, Rossi said: “I think that Italy in MotoGP is in a good situation, also without me.

“And this is positive for all the movement in Italy.

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT, fans

Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT, fans

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“I think that we will have Pecco that can fight for the championship already this year and next year.

“I think next year Franco Morbidelli will also be very strong with the factory Yamaha, he’s very fast and very strong.

“So, I think he will fight for the championship. From the Academy side, we will also have my brother [Marini] and maybe Bezzecchi.

“It’s not decided yet, it’s not official, but I think we will have two very fast riders like they demonstrate in the Moto2.

“Also, Bastianini. Bastianini is not our rider, but today he was impressive, incredible, he was very fast.

“All the weekend he rode like a devil, all the race he was impressive, he also did the fastest lap. So congratulations to him and I think he can have a very strong future.”

Rossi ended his penultimate MotoGP race on home soil at Misano in 17th after a crash in qualifying force him to start from the back row of the grid in 23rd.

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