January 29, 2020—Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announces that nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi will ride his last full season as a Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team rider in 2020. Following discussions together, Yamaha and Rossi have mutually agreed that the personal decision whether the Italian will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021 will be taken mid-2020.
Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi will complete his astounding 15-year run with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team at the end of the 2020 season.
Following discussions between Yamaha and Rossi, the Italian will take until mid-2020 to make the final call whether he will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021. This time frame was requested by Rossi to evaluate his competitive speed compared to the MotoGP grid only after completing the first seven or eight races of 2020.
Should Rossi decide to continue as a MotoGP rider in 2021, Yamaha assures Rossi of the availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. engineering support.
Irrespective of the decisions for the future, Yamaha will provide full support and total focus for the 2020 season as Rossi commences his 25th motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship, his 21st season in the premier class, and his 15th year with Yamaha.
Lin Jarvis - Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing
“The totally understandable decision of Valentino to assess his competitiveness in 2020 before making any decision about 2021 was something that Yamaha respects and also wholeheartedly agrees to.
While we have total respect for and confidence in Valentino’s abilities and speed for the 2020 championship - at the same time Yamaha also have to plan for the future. These days, with six motorcycle manufacturers in the MotoGP class, fast young talents are greatly in demand, and consequently the riders’ market begins ever earlier. So, it’s a weird sensation to start a season knowing that Vale will not be in the Factory Team in 2021, but Yamaha will still be there for Valentino, whatever he may decide for the future. If he feels confident and continues to race, we will provide a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full engineering support. If he decides to retire, we will continue and expand our collaborations off track with the young riders’ training programmes of the Riders Academy and the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp, and with him as a Yamaha brand ambassador.
Anyway, that is all speculation – right now we have a full season ahead of us and I can assure the fans that Valentino will have our 100% support every day until he eventually one day decides to hang up his leathers!”
“For reasons dictated by the riders’ market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future. Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn't want to rush any decision and needed more time. Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations. It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021. Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me. I’m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season.”