Just one more day, and Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli will present themselves to the world dressed in the same colors: the Petronas team’s green and black. It’ll be the closing of a circle that began many years ago, when the Doctor decided to bet on that guy to start his riders academy. It goes without saying that neither of them would have ever thought they would end up as teammates in the MotoGP. But fate sometimes enjoys taking the longer path when fulfilling its plans.
Franco’s path was long and never easy. Morbido spent too much time on it as an outsider. Not even a world title in the Moto2 was enough to convince Honda to make him debut with the “right” bike in the MotoGP. So his first year among the greats was an ordeal, and not even the second went that well, having moved to Yamaha and having encountered Fabio Quartararo on his path. Whats more, 2020 started with an old bike, when all his brand mates had new ones. But then Morbido started getting serious. The game got tough and he started playing.
Too late to fight for a place in the official team and even for a factory bike, but it wasn’t too late to win three races and finish second in the World Championship. Results that usually are more than enough to obtain factory chevrons and colors, but Franky will, once again, have to make the best of it and prove that the others were wrong, not him.
After all, he’ll have the satisfaction of sharing the garage with his mentor, and that’s no small thing. That Valentino who put a mark on the history of motorcycling in the last twenty-five years and who, at the age of forty-two, still doesn’t want to sit in an armchair in front of the TV on Sunday. It’s been many years, and he’s lost some of his shine, but not enough to be obscured by host of putative children and be able to test himself against them.
Rossi's and Morbidelli's encounter, however, also seems to be a passing of the baton, between the rider who made Yamaha great in the past and the one who’ll be able to do in the future. But, first, they have a whole season ahead of them as teammates, and then as fierce opponents, as the unwritten rule of motorsports dictates. And, as always, the track will decide who wins, even if both have basically already achieved a goal to be remembered.
So all we have to do now is set our alarm clocks for tomorrow morning, at 10:30 am, and enjoy the beginning of a new chapter in their stories.