Monday saw him in Gerno di Lesmo for the traditional photo shoots with his new bike, while on Tuesday Valentino Rossi stopped off in Milan, popping into the Radio Deejay studios to guest on the “DEEJAY CHIAMA ITALIA” show, presented by Linus and Nicola Savino. A busy couple of days for the Doctor, his holidays already a distant memory.
“I was already back training last week – he commented – I had a month and a half off anyway with the race at the Ranch and then some holiday time. I spent part of the time in Jamaica with the guys from the Academy, there were around fifteen of us including wives and girlfriends, and then we went to the mountains, to Madonna di Campiglio”.
Rossi then comments briefly on Dani Pedrosa, who has been back in surgery again following his latest injury.
“Dani has had many physical problems. There's always a danger of course, both on track and off. Look at what happened to Hayden and Schumi”.
Talk also turns to Hamilton, who presenter Linus refers to as a show-off.
“We Italians generally keep a low profile, because if you show off and something goes wrong they rip you to pieces. Lewis keeps himself busy, I see he goes skiing with Ken Block. I wrote to him to invite him to the Ranch, but he's always so busy. Once I said, 'Shall we do next Tuesday?' and he replied, 'OK, but that afternoon I have to leave for Miami', so we haven't done anything yet. If he comes in his jet, we can have him land at Rimini airport (he smiles)”
Meanwhile, Rossi is focusing on the 2019 season, his first season as an 'over 40'.
“My dream was always to race in the world championship. Thirty years ago, riders were older because they started to race later. Now riders begin at a very young age. Personally, I never though I'd be racing at 40, it's not the norm, the important thing is to remain competitive. Perhaps it will become the norm in the future. My renewal last year? When I signed, I realised that a two-year agreement would take me to 40, I can't deny that I had to think hard about whether I should do it. I've always been convinced that if we can improve the bike we can be strong”.
Rossi clearly has the experience, as well as a touch of fear.
“I have it, like all riders. With experience, you get to know the tracks and work well for the race, even if a youngster is braver and less scared of crashing, also if he crashes, he recovers quicker. As I've said, we are all scared, some more so, some less so, it's something you have to realise, though much depends on how you react. With the passing of the years, you're more careful, in Moto3 and Moto2 the guys are perhaps crazier. Brave riders? I'd say the Japanese, the Indonesians but also the Brits particularly in the wet”.
Those who love to take a little risk undoubtedly include a certain Marc Marquez.
“Marc takes a lot of risks, he's very brave and sometimes appears to have no fear. He's strong, because he gets hurt and gets back up, runs to the garage and gets straight back out on the other bike. I watch him of course, we riders do that a lot, we're all interested in what the others are doing. We keep an eye on each other on social media too, we're all curious about training and nutrition. Have I stolen any secrets from other riders? In certain situations maybe, generally things relating to training!.
Next season, Valentino will also be up against his young 'pupils' Morbidelli and Bagnaia, both keen to beat their mentor.
“Franco and Pecco are the strongest. We worked for Morbidelli to have Ramon Forcada as crew chief, he knows the M1 like the back of his hand. At one point, I questioned whether this wasn't a conflict of interest with myself.”
And what about Luca Marini?
“He was very strong last year, he grew a great deal, particularly in the second part of the season, when he got on better with the bike. He scored podiums, two poles and finally the win in Malaysia. I have to say I cried for him, we're good brothers and I really like helping him. A passing of the baton to him in MotoGP? Who knows, if he's fast, we might even race together".
Racing aside, Valentino was asked whether he is likely to become a father.
“My grandmother, Graziano's mum, who sadly passed away some years ago would always ask me that. My mum now realises that it's better to leave it. Perhaps it's better to focus on Luca (he jokes).