Valentino Rossi doesn’t miss MotoGP, shock Austria near-miss affected retirement

Valentino Rossi isn't missing MotoGP since retirement and says his heart-stopping near-miss incident during the 2020 Styrian race influenced retirement call

Franco Morbidelli, Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi says the start of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship - the first since 2000 he hasn’t featured on the premier class grid - isn’t leaving him pining for the series he retired from at the conclusion of the 2021 season.

One of the most successful riders in GP history with nine world titles - including seven 500/MotoGP crowns - Rossi brought his glittering career to a close at the 2021 Valencia MotoGP after 25 years competing on the international stage.

The Italian will now turn his attention to four-wheels with a deal to race a Team WRT Audi R8 in the GT World Challenge series alongside experienced Belgian racer Frederic Vervisch.

It is an endeavour that Rossi - who recently became a father for the first time - is excited to be getting underway after such a long career on two wheels, enough for him not to regret choosing to retire when he did.

“The first Sunday without MotoGP didn’t bother me at all,” he told Italian publication Il Giornale. “I just thought, 'How lucky I'm not on the track now.' It was very important for me to finish in a happy way in Valencia last year - and I managed to do that. 

“That's why I now also enjoy following the Grand Prix from the sofa. I'm a big motorcycle fan, I like to watch. And I'm a fan of our drivers. 

“In addition, my brother is on the line, and my friends. The only difficult moment was in June last year, between Barcelona and Assen, when I decided to stop."

2020 Styrian MotoGP incident influenced retirement call

Rossi also reveals his frightening near-miss incident during the 2020 Styrian MotoGP - when he narrowly avoided being struck by Franco Morbidelli’s spiralling airborne Yamaha M1 - went a long way to confirming his decision to retire.

"It got me thinking.  already knew it, but it was really proof that it's not enough to pay attention in the races. If you're in the wrong place at the wrong moment, you're screwed. 

Triggered by a moment of contact behind between Petronas SRT Yamaha’s Morbidelli and Avintia Ducati’s Johann Zarco as they rounded the fast kink before the tight uphill Turn 3 right-hand hairpin, the two bikes barrel-rolled through the gravel trap before threading through a small gap between Rossi and Maverick Vinales, missing both by mere inches.

“That was a tough moment, even if it didn't make me say, 'I'm quitting.' It was even the case that I decided in the weeks to drive another season.”

Though not competing as a rider this season, Rossi will still have a major interest in the 2022 MotoGP World Championship with his VR46 Racing Ducati team with Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi, plus his Moto2 outfit with current championship Celestino Vietti.