As we age, we become wiser, more attentive to detail, but there are also some things that don't change. Valentino Rossi has still kept his sense of humor intact and demonstrated it in Brno, on the track where, 24 years ago, he won his first race in the 125, and where he could perhaps reach his 200th Grands Prix in the premier class on Sunday.
“I used to laugh when I used to hear that Quartararo doesn't care about the statistics. When you get older, you start looking at them, " he said, laughing, during the virtual press conference that inaugurates this weekend. "Honestly, I'm not racing to reach 200 podiums. In the end, it's just a number, and if I continue to be in the MotoGP, that's because I still like to race and face the challenge of being with the best. But every now and then, I also look at these things and I'm proud.”
Given the Doctor's undeniable experience, his opinion is required on the most disparate topics. Including that of the renewal between Dovizioso and Ducati, which is slow in the making.
“Can they say nothing?" he said, jokingly. "From what we've seen in the past, there have often been difficult relationships between Ducati and its riders. It also happened to me when I was racing for them. I think that's why they haven't reached an agreement yet, but I hope for both of them to continue, because they've been very strong together in recent years.”
Dovi thanked Valentino, then remembered an accident that, however, had less serious results than Marquez's.
“In 2009, before the winter tests, I fell on a glass table that had shattered into a thousand pieces. I cut my hands and feet. When you're home, you have to be careful. It can become very dangerous,” he said smiling.
He finally went back to talking about himself and his newfound competitiveness in Jerez.
“This will be an important week," he commented. "We made some changes in Spain that gave me better riding sensations. Now it'll be necessary to understand if I'll be able to be fast here too, because I've suffered a bit with the Yamaha in recent years. I'll be able to know what my potential is, and then also understand what could happen in the upcoming races.”
There are those who've asked him if he's already thinking about the title.
"Things change very quickly," he said. "After the first race in Jerez, my situation was very bad, but after a good race, it's normal to think that I can reach the top, to be with the first 5, then with the first 3, and so on. I don't know what will happen, everything will depend on my speed, and I'm open to any result.”
But Rossi seems optimistic, and the arrival of Munoz as his crew chief is starting to show the desired results.
“Last summer, I realized that I would need something different," he recalled. "I had decided to change crew chief and to bet on a young man who had no experience in the MotoGP. I like David's approach, he conveys optimism, and this is important for a rider. I feel good with him, he can teach me a lot, he has a different way of working on the bike, and he's brought a breath of fresh air to the garage. Of course, we'll need time to get to know each other better. We can improve.”
This is good news. The one about the problems in reliability of the Yamaha engines at Jerez is less. However, even on this point, Valentino seemed confident.
“I know that Yamaha has worked a lot to solve the problem. Now we have to hope that everything goes well," he said. "We have three tracks where the engine matters a lot, but I don't think this will make the problem bigger. I think the extreme temperatures we had in Jerez was an influence.”
Before leaving, Rossi spoke about the future of his brother, Luca Marini, after that Francesco Guidott had,i on our pages, picked him out as a contender for a bike in the Ducati Pramac team.
“I really don't know much. What's important for Luca is to keep fighting for the title and win races in the Moto2. Then, I hope he'll have a good chance to get in the MotoGP,” the Doctor concluded.