Rossi to stay at Yamaha until at least 2020
Nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year extension to his Yamaha contract, keeping him at the squad until at least 2020. The 39-year-old’s existing contract was due to expire at the end of 2018, though Yamaha was expected to resign him before the Qatar Grand Prix (March 18).
“When I signed my last contract with Yamaha, in March 2016, I wondered if that would have been the last contract as a MotoGP rider,” said Rossi. “At that time, I decided that I’d take that decision during the following two years. During the last two years I came to the conclusion that I want to continue because racing, being a MotoGP rider, but especially riding my M1, is the thing that makes me feel good. Having the opportunity to work with my team, with Silvano, Matteo and all my mechanics, and working with all Japanese engineers, Tsuji-san, and above all Tsuya-san, is a pleasure – I’m happy.
“I want to thank Yamaha – Lin Jarvis and Maio Meregalli in particular – for their trust in me, because the challenge is difficult: being competitive until I’m 40 years old! I know it’s going to be difficult and it requires a lot of effort from my side and a lot of training but I’m ready, I am not lacking in motivation, that’s why I’m signing for two more years.”
Yamaha managing director Lin Jarvis added: “It was very easy to reach an agreement together – as a factory team we need top riders capable to win and with the total commitment to do what it takes to achieve the goal. Despite his many years in the sport and his 39 years, Vale is as committed today as he ever was and there is no doubt he is still a top rider, as witnessed most recently by his second position in the final pre-season test here in Qatar. Now it is our job as a team and a factory to give him the best possible YZR-M1 to let him fight for race wins and championship success.
Having both Maverick and Valentino now signed for 2019-20 allows us to just focus all of our energy on the 2018 season and to be strong contenders at every single MotoGP Grand Prix. It promises to be a highly competitive season and like all the fans – we in Yamaha are truly excited to go racing on Sunday night here in Losail.”
Team-mate Maverick Viñales signed a contract extension with Yamaha until 2020 in January.