With just over a week to go until the MotoGP paddock gets back together for the first pre-season test of the year in Sepang, Valentino Rossi has put in an appearance on Italian TV show, Che Tempo Che Fa, talking about how he’s feeling about the coming season, his VR46 Academy – and turning 40 next month.

Ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season in Qatar, MotoGP riders are out at Sepang from February 6 to 8 – and it looks set to be a very important week for Rossi. “I leave on Saturday and we go to Indonesia to present the bike and then it will be the first test.” He also spoke about his new-look Yamaha race bike, saying “the Yamaha is blue and the main sponsor is black, it will be an interesting bike.”

Talking about turning 40 next month – Rossi said: “I look younger, I am a lucky one. 40 is a difficult time.” Of course, Rossi’s seen a lot of changes to the sport while a part of the MotoGP grid over the last 19 years, but what’s most notable is how he’s seen how technological evolutions have forced riders to adapt and change their riding style – “The way of riding has changed as a result of technology – from tyres, brakes and electronics, through to changing the riding position in the saddle. The bike can lean further and there is more grip.”


Finally, Rossi touched on his role at the VR46 Academy – and how it helps him to feel young. He said: “I feel close to them because of the passion for motorcycles, even when I am older, it is good to work with children. It’s a way to stay young, we train ourselves by having fun and we all strive to improve.”

And this season, two of Vale’s Academy compatriots will be lining up against him – Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha, and Pecco Bagnaia on Alma Pramac Racing Ducati. “A couple will run against me this year. If they get in front of me, it will bother me … it will be a great challenge.”

Ross Mowbray

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