Valentino Rossi described reports that he has signed to ride for Petronas Yamaha in MotoGP next season as 'fake' but admitted it's now '99%' certain that he will join the satellite team.

The Italian superstar, 41, confirmed that the few remaining 'details' include how many of his crew will move with him from the factory Yamaha squad.

"The news that I signed already the contract is not true. It's fake," Rossi said. "But we are very close.

"I want to continue in 2021. I already spoke with Yamaha and especially I spoke already with Razlan, Zeelenberg and Stiggy from Petronas and I have a very good feeling.

"We have some details to fix, especially the team, the people that will work for me. But 99% I will race with Petronas in 2021. Even if I still don’t sign yet."

Rossi was speaking at the end of Wednesday's official test at Jerez, his first time on a MotoGP bike since February in Qatar and the longest break he's had since joining the world championship in 1996.

"It was quite interesting because it never happened in my life to have a long period of 'stop' like this where I don't ride the motorcycle and especially I don’t have any races," Rossi said.

"At the beginning it was a bit boring, but after, staying at home with my friends, family, girlfriend, was every day better! I felt very good!"

Nonetheless, it was during the break that the nine-time world champion reached his decision to race on in 2021.

"It was an interesting time to think about the future, because I know that if I want to continue, I need to make a big effort to be prepared for 2021. But at the end I decided I want to be there," he said.

"So even if I didn’t ride it was a good period to think and understand more about the future of my life. I know that it will be hard, but I want to try also next year."

Rossi will thus line-up alongside VR46 protegee Franco Morbidelli next season and effectively swap places with Fabio Quartararo, who is moving to the factory Yamaha team alongside Maverick Vinales.

Vinales and Quartararo were first and second by the end of Wednesday's test, which saw Rossi ranked third (+0.281s) and then 16th (+1.5s) during the two sessions.

"It was very important to do this day of testing because it was a long time that we didn't ride a MotoGP, so the feeling was fantastic to come back on the track and back on the M1," said Rossi, looking to end a 16-race podium drought this weekend.

"It was quite a good day. In the morning I was not so bad and especially because today is like we have just one soft tyre for the time attack, so I put this morning and I did a good lap. At the end with the lap time of this morning I am P5 overall.

"In the afternoon we tried some different tyres but with more temperature we struggled more and especially my pace is not fantastic, I don’t like a lot the balance of the bike. We have a lot of work to do but it was very good to come back on the bike."

Today's test, like the next two race weekends at Jerez, is taking place behind closed doors with a strict 'covid' safety protocol and limited paddock numbers.

For Rossi, who is normally 'hunted' when out in the open, it's not all bad.

"It's a bit more difficult because we have to always wear masks, also when you do meetings, so it's a bit more tricky," he said. "But on the other side it's very quiet! Don’t have many people!

"It’s unbelievable for me because I can walk in the paddock for the first time since 1997! Under this point of view it's less pressure, more relaxed."



Loading Comments...