Valentino Rossi ‘might have stopped’ MotoGP if Yamaha hadn’t welcomed him back

After 203 MotoGP starts and 69 race wins in navy blue, Valentino Rossi bids farewell to the Yamaha Factory team he clinched five MotoGP world titles with

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha Factory Racing

There were emotions being felt in the Yamaha Factory pit box at the conclusion of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship finale in Portimao as Valentino Rossi completed his final race as a Yamaha Factory rider.

With a low-key run to 12th position - confirming 15th in the overall standings - it wasn’t quite a grandstand finish for the Italian in a year that saw him back on the podium in Jerez, but was hampered by a COVID-19 absence and machinery that appeared to go backwards as the season progressed.

Rossi will now sidestep to the Petronas SRT Yamaha team for 2021 which, though the manufacturer’s satellite effort, did out-score the Factory set-up by 60 points this year.

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Regardless, after 203 MotoGP starts as a Yamaha Factory rider it remains the end of an era for Rossi, who in that time secured five world titles and 69 wins (33% start-to-win ratio).

Describing his Yamaha tenure as being a movie in two parts after spending two disappointing seasons with Ducati in 2011 and 2012, Rossi admits he might have walked away from the sport had Yamaha not welcomed him back in 2013.

“The first part is from the beginning in 2004 to 2010. I think that was the best part of my career. We wrote history for Yamaha. We were able to win the championship for Yamaha after twenty-something years. I will always remember these achievements, for sure, because they are key moments in my career too.

“But I‘m also very proud of the second part. I want to say ’Thanks‘ again to Lin and all of Yamaha. They gave me a chance to come back to the Factory Team after two bad years with another factory, when I was already ’getting old‘ by MotoGP-standards, so I was desperate.

"I will never forget the moment when Lin [Jarvis] told me I would have a chance to come back here. I‘ll always be thankful for that moment, because maybe I could also have stopped riding at that time if I wasn‘t able to come back here.”