The Doctor is done. Valentino Rossi, perhaps the most popular motorcycle racer in the world, has announced he is retiring at the end of the 2021 season.
The announcement came ahead of the Styrian GP, as MotoGP racers return after the usual mid-summer break. It comes as no big surprise; earlier this season, Rossi signaled his intention to decide his future soon. No doubt a half-season’s worth of poor finishes helped to solidify his plans to retire from riding.
Rossi leaves MotoGP as the Greatest Of All Time in the minds of many fans. Although he hasn’t won a championship since 2009, Rossi finished second in 2014, 2015 and 2016. His greatest success came in the 2000s, when he won MotoGP titles while riding Honda and then Yamaha. He retires with seven MotoGP titles, as well as championships in the old two-stroke 125 and 250 classes. In his 26-year career through MotoGP’s classes, Rossi won 115 races and earned 235 podiums out of 414 starts, including 89 wins between the old two-stroke and modern four-stroke premier classes. Along with his stints on Yamaha and Honda’s factory teams, Rossi also raced for Ducati (where he saw little success) and in his early days, Aprilia (where he made his name). Currently, he’s riding for Petronas SRT, Yamaha’s satellite squad, after losing his factory ride with Yamaha at the end of the 2020 season.
The 2021 season has been tough so far for Rossi; he’s currently in 19th place overall, with 17 points this year.
However, even as Rossi plans to retire from actual racing, he’s still going to be a familiar trackside face in coming seasons, as he now controls the Aramco Racing Team VR46, which is confirmed for MotoGP for the next three years. His Sky Racing Team VR46 team has already competed in Moto3 and Moto2 classes for years, so this step forward into a new management role is really just a sensible progression for his career.