Should Valentino Rossi enter WorldSBK? Max Biaggi thinks so…

As Valentino Rossi reaches a crossroads ahead of talks over extending his MotoGP career - or calling it quits - ex-rival Max Biaggi has another suggestion

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP

Two-time WorldSBK Champion Max Biaggi has challenged Valentino Rossi to switch to the Superbike World Championship once he concludes his MotoGP career, calling it the ‘most beautiful environment’.

Perceived to be one of Rossi’s bitterest enemies on a grand prix motorcycle, Biaggi took the fight to his fellow Italian between 2000 and 2005 when they shared a track, enduring numerous – and occasionally physical – on-track battles and more than one altercation, be it ‘flipped birds’ or full-on spats.

The Italian and global media lapped it up and though Max “Roman Emperor” Biaggi had the stronger record in the lower ranks – with four 250GP titles – it was Valentino “The Doctor” Rossi that ultimately ascended to legend status, winning seven premier class world championships to Biaggi’s zero.

Biaggi’s career took an about turn when he was dropped by Honda at the end of the 2005 MotoGP season, leading to a season on the sidelines prior to a switch to the WorldSBK Championship.  Quick from the off, if lacking some consistency, Biaggi hit the sweet spot when he joined newcomers Aprilia in 2009 and romped to the 2010 and 2012 titles, before announcing his retirement.

Now Biaggi, who runs a leading Moto3 World Championship team – Max Racing – is reflecting on Rossi’s future as he struggles to keep pace with rivals in what has been a solid, but unspectacular season on the factory Yamaha.

With attention turning to potential retirement at the end of the 2020 season, Biaggi believes Rossi would find great pleasure in making the shock switch to WorldSBK instead.

“So long as there is much enthusiasm and you don't feel it is difficult to continue, until you feel tired ... [then] why not!?,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked how he would advise Rossi.

“It's the most beautiful environment, we riders just want to go on the track and compete. Should this [MotoGP] fail, you should do something else.”

Meanwhile, Biaggi believes Kawasaki relative dominance of WorldSBK in the hands of Jonathan Rea is simply because the manufacturer has no MotoGP campaign to siphon resources. The Italian likens it to Aprilia, which took the fight to the Japanese firm only to see its fortunes dwindle as soon as it began its MotoGP programme.

“In WorldSBK there is a strong presence of Kawasaki, just like when Aprilia was there. Kawasaki not being in MotoGP, so MotoGP is the Superbie. All the other houses do not give their best because either you choose a championship or you choose the other one since they are two high-level and expensive championships."

Could Valentino Rossi ACTUALLY join WorldSBK?

Is Rossi likely to be listening to Biaggi’s opinions? Maybe. Is he likely to heed the advice? Probably not.

There’s been much ink shed over the years over the prospect of Rossi making a WorldSBK appearance, if not a full switch but at least a one-off outing. Indeed, such is the allure of Rossi, it’s easy to forget we briefly entertained him joining Formula 1 in a third Ferrari.

While Rossi is a racer at heart and he’s not having the best of periods at Yamaha, a full switch to WorldSBK seems a little far-fetched at the moment. Presumably, since he’d have more to lose competing than not, he’d only move for a competitive package and the Yamaha isn’t quite there at the moment – much like MotoGP, to be fair.

Had he enjoyed success at Ducati and stayed on, then a WorldSBK race or more in his future seems more likely.

More plausibly, if Rossi does retire at the end of the 2020 season, one could potentially see him in a team manager role in either series, or perhaps an expansion of his VR46 rider programme will include Superbikes – maybe even that wild-card outing to keep his boot in.

Or that 2021 Yamaha MotoGP contract is already being drawn up…