Valentino Rossi last Sunday at Misano had to contend with two of his Riders Academy pupils, Morbidelli and Bagnaia, who got the better of their maestro. The list of rivals in the ‘family’ could get even longer next year because it is no mystery that Ducati is talking to Luca Marini and it was the Doctor himself who confirmed it at the inaugural press conference of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
"I know there are contacts, there is the possibility that he can race in the Avintia team and it would be something great - he said - Ducati has a competitive bike and is pushing a lot on the young riders, if they find an agreement it would be very positive for him. But, as I said, now he has to focus on Moto2 to win the title, it's the most important thing ”.
Not even in his wildest dreams did Valentino ever imagine that his Academy would have been so successful when he had the idea of creating it…
"I would never have believed it, honestly when we started I didn't know what would happen - he explained - Only when Morbidelli won the title in Moto2, in 2017, did I start thinking that I could have a rider from the Academy as rival in MotoGP. That's okay, I'm happy, being together we improve and have fun ”.
The demonstration is there for all to see and Morbidelli dominated last Sunday…
“I know Franco and his riding style very well - continued Valentino - He's on great form, he did a masterpiece of a race, because it's not easy to keep that pace without making mistakes. He is training a lot, sometimes he creates some problems for me and Bagnaia because at 9 am he is ready to go racing - he smiled - To be fast with the Yamaha you have to be sweet, ride it the way she wants, Franco just needed some time to understand it after coming from Honda ”.
Now he has succeeded and is one more rival for the title. A fight in which there are a lot of opponents, but Rossi is in the game.
"This season reminds me a little of 2000 in the 500 - he observed - Also that year there were a lot of riders and bikes capable of winning. It's a crazy and very balanced championship”.
In which experience could play a fundamental role…
"At this time of the season, usually, it is the second in the standings who is 23 points behind the leader, but now he is in 9th - he continued - Being in the game for the title gives great motivation, experience is certainly important but speed is crucial. I'm not far behind in the standings, but if I want to fight for the championship I'll have to be faster ”.
This season everyone will also need to know how to manage the pressure…
"This year it is a good pressure - explained the Doctor - Leaving home knowing that you can fighting for the championship gives you motivation. When you are 2nd in the standings, but 50 points behind the first, then you have less pressure but also less motivation. A sportsman must be able to manage the pressure, sometimes it's easy and other times you can have more problems. It's hard to explain, because it's a bad feeling in itself but it's nice to try it ”.
For the second GP at Misano, however, Valentino has a plan…
"Behind my special helmet there is a blister, this time I'll take the second tablet. We know that the second time is always more difficult than the first," he joked, but there was a grain of truth in his irony.
“Actually I think it will be a more difficult race because I expect everyone to be faster and more competitive. To aim for the podium we will need to improve - he explained - We had a good test on Tuesday, but in this Grand Prix I will start with a bike very similar to the one last weekend, even though we plan to test the exhaust and swingarm ”.
Finally he revealed why his name is not on the list of riders who will take part in the Portimao test with road bikes on 7 October.
“We had already organized a day there a week or two later with all the Academy riders, because we didn't know there was this possibility. It will be important to lap there because it is a new and complicated track,” he explained.