If Valentino Rossi wanted to celebrate during the Phillip Island Grand Prix, he has to find 400 candles and a cake big enough to fit them all. The Doctor has been in lots of races and, to say the least, no one has been able to do the same. "It was a very, very long road," he said, smiling. "And it's nice to celebrate here, on an iconic, special track."
Time passes, but Rossi has every intention of deceiving it for a little while longer. If a rider always needs a challenge, this is undoubtedly the most difficult one to face. And he even admitted thinking that he had to face it.
"Just think, when I was 17 I thought that those who were 25 were my grandfather, and now I'm 40," he said jokingly. "You can't expect to get that far, especially me, since I never had a clear idea of how long I'd be racing."
But you'll have to think about it quickly, since you're already starting to talk about contracts for 2021...
"There's a strange situation in MotoGP. You practically have to decide your future 2 years before and, in recent seasons, everyone is trying to sign as soon as possible."
Are you starting to feel the burden of the 400 Grand Prixs?
"I don't know. I've been racing for so many years. In the end, the results on the track make the difference. When you fight for the podium or win, everything is easier. Now I'm going through a difficult time, but I still want to race for a while."
Even in 2021?
"I'm not thinking about it yet. Like I said before, the problem is that contracts are signed much too soon, sometimes even before the start of the championship. You should wait at least 6 or 7 races before talking. It's difficult for everyone like this, even for teams to understand the potential of a rider, either in the MotoGP or in the Moto2. Motorcycling is in a league of it's own. In Formula 1, they decide in September and not at the beginning of the year. But there are the winter tests where we'll be able to understand some things."
If you continue, you might even get to compete with your brother, Luca Marini.
"That would be great, especially since it would be a nice surprise. I never expected it could happen. I hope that Luca will continue to remain on these levels again next year so that he can find a good position in the MotoGP for 2021."
Could you think of your future in the MotoGP away from Yamaha?
"I don't think so. I 'll finish my career with Yamaha."
On the M1, which you're not able to understand lately.
"I'm suffering a lot with the rear tire, and we're looking for something different to solve the problem. I don't know if the problem is my riding style. I obviously look at Vinales' and Quartararo's data, but I don't understand much. The Michelin tires have a great grip, but they're also really delicate. I've suffered in recent years. We're trying to work on all areas, even on my riding style."
What do you expect from Phillip Island?
"This is the best track in the world in good weather, and anyone would pay to race on a nice day like today. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like that will happen."