Pictures from Valentino Rossi's final race and top-ten finish
Rossi was 'very worried' about his final appearance. Modern bike racing's biggest name needn't have fretted
“I was very worried for this weekend because I didn’t know how I felt and there was a lot of pressure with many things to do.” Ever the professional, Valentino Rossi was very worried about performing on his emotional final weekend in MotoGP.
We’d argue with seven top-flight championships, 89 wins and 199 podiums to your name – not to mention a firm grasp on the heart of most bike racing fans – you can ruddy well do what you like on your last appearance in the sport.
But Vale wanted to perform for his crowd one last time. And that he did, finishing tenth to collect the final six points of his long, storied career on two wheels.
"I didn’t expect that it could be a weekend like this,” he said afterwards. “It was fantastic, I received a lot of positive energy from all the people in the paddock and I had a lot of great surprises: from seeing all my bikes on Thursday, to all the VR46 Academy riders with my helmets today.
“I’m also happy because I was able to be strong in both qualifying yesterday and in the race today, finishing in the top-ten. I enjoyed it a lot and it was the best way to finish. I am in the top ten best riders in the world and it means everything, because this result will never change. I also enjoyed the celebrations after the race. It was a long career and I want to say thanks to everybody."
Big names were queuing up to bid their own personal farewell to The Doctor. Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves and Roger Federer were among the faces beamed trackside at Valencia via video messages, while Ronaldo was there to surprise Rossi just before his 432nd and final race.
The Brazilian striker also waved the chequered flag at the end as Vale performed a lap of honour in front of fireworks and the shimmering flags of 75,000 fans. How many of them had dry eyes remains unconfirmed, but ‘very few’ is our best estimate.
"Today was an emotional day for the team, especially as it was Rossi’s last dance after a glorious 26 years,” said Petronas Yamaha SRT team principal Razlan Razali. “We are truly honoured that he has ended his career with us and it will go down in the history books.”
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