Valentino Rossi joked he might opt to quit MotoGP again in 2022 after enjoying all the fanfare that accompanied his final race in Valencia before retirement.

Rossi, a seven-time MotoGP champion and legend of the sport, took to the track for the final time on Sunday having confirmed the 2021 season would be his last back in August.

The 42-year-old qualified in 10th and ultimately finished in the same position, achieving the top-10 finish he had identified as his goal heading into the weekend.

Rossi was mobbed at the end of the race, with his rivals, fans and crew all swarming around him before lifting him aloft of the track shortly after old friend Ronaldo waved the chequered flag.

A party then began as Rossi returned to the pits, and he could not hide his enjoyment of all the adoration.

"[There's been] a lot of surprises, we've had fun," he told Sky Sport Italia. "It was my style, we drank, broke a few things. I'm not that drunk yet!

"I'm happy to have had a good race, I finished among the 10 strongest riders in the world. Slowly now I'll realise that I'm stopping, but for now [it just feels like] the championship is over.

"I've always tried to do one last race in my style. They tried to make me cry, but in my opinion this was supposed to be a party.

"Quitting was an excuse to make a bit of a mess, maybe I'll quit next year too! No, you know how proud I am to have gone out strong.

"I was in shape today, I was inspired. I like that I've left in this way. At least I can say that at the last race I finished 10th."

Fittingly, VR46 academy product Francesco Bagnaia was victorious on the day.

He and the other riders to have come through the academy who were involved in the various races over the weekend wore replicas of Rossi's most iconic helmet designs, and he appreciated that tribute.

"Yesterday, when they surprised me with the helmets, it was tough but nice," Rossi added. "Today, it was great to see them in action."

Francesco Bagnaia dedicated his Valencia Grand Prix victory to Valentino Rossi as the MotoGP great hangs up his leathers.

Rossi, a seven-time world champion and legend of the sport, took part in the final race of his illustrious career on Sunday, having confirmed the 2021 season would be his last back in August.

The 42-year-old qualified in 10th and ultimately finished in the same position, achieving the top-10 finish he had identified as his goal heading into the weekend.

Rossi was mobbed at the end of the race, with his rivals, fans and crew all swarming around him before lifting him aloft of the track.

He was then treated to special tributes from other teams as he headed back down the pitlane for the last time, before something of a party began in the Yamaha paddock.

Bagnaia won the race after seeing off Jorge Martin, and the Italian – who came through Rossi's VR46 academy – dedicated the win to his hero.

"It was very exciting because with a helmet like this I could only win," the Ducati rider told Sky Sport Italia while holding a replica of Rossi's 2004 helmet.

"It is the only way to celebrate the greatest of all, it was beautiful. The hug with Vale was wonderful, I was able to pass on to him what he is for me, and all the gratitude for what he's done. Without him I would not be like this at the moment.

"I wanted to give Valentino a gift with my helmet and dedicate this race to him. I thank him for what he did for us at the academy.

"Before the weekend I wasn't sure I could do performances like this here. In the end, we were among the fastest and I'm happy to have won. It's the best way to end a season."

 

Valentino Rossi brought the curtain down on his illustrious MotoGP career with a 10th-placed finish at the Valencia Grand Prix while his protege Francesco Bagnaia crossed the line first in the final race of the campaign.

Seven-time MotoGP champion Rossi, 42, confirmed in August he would be hanging up his leathers at the end of the 2021 season, and he closed things out with a drama-free ride as he achieved his pre-weekend goal of a top-10 finish.

Danil Petrucci, who finished in 18th, is also departing MotoGP.

Rossi received a hero's reception at the end of the race as riders, fans and crew swarmed and held him aloft, with his old friend Ronaldo having waved the final chequered flag of his career.

The veteran enjoyed a solid performance in qualifying, securing a respectable 10th place on the grid, but it was his countryman Bagnaia and rookie Jorge Martin at the front who occupied the main in-race focus.

Martin started on pole for the fourth time this season and showed excellent poise to hold off Bagnaia for a while, but he left the door open at the end of the 15th lap as the Italian's persistence paid off.

Bagnaia was then in a class of his own for the rest of the race as Martin failed to reel him back in, though the latter did just enough to hold off Jack Miller to secure second.

Ducati bikes locked out the podium as their factory team secured the teams' title in emphatic fashion, but all the attention was on Rossi at the end, with various teams producing their own tributes to him as he rode back down the pit lane for the last time.

 

 

MotoGP great Valentino Rossi received a timely boost from one of the championship's emerging stars in qualifying for the Valencia Grand Prix.

Rossi, a nine-time world champion, is retiring after Sunday's race, which brings the curtain down on the 2021 season.

Fabio Quartararo already has the title sewn up, and the newly crowned champion will start from eighth on the grid, two ahead of 42-year-old Rossi.

Rossi was given a helping hand by Francesco Bagnaia, who is looking to cap a superb individual season that has seen him claim wins at Aragon, San Marino and Portimao.

Bagnaia finished second in qualifying, just 0.064 seconds behind Jorge Martin, who claimed the fourth pole of his rookie season with a superb ride.

The Ducati rider crashed at Turn Two, though still found the power to provide Rossi with a tow that secured his place in Q2.

"Pecco helped me, I'm very happy," Rossi explained.  "We didn't have a clear plan, I just started behind him and he saw me but he continued to push. So thanks a lot to Pecco, who helped me improve my lap time.

"This is a great feeling for me and for the team in my last race. I think that apart from the emotional moment for me it's very important to try to make a good weekend, a good result and I will start in the top 10. So it was a good Saturday."

Bagnaia added: "No, no [it wasn't planned]. But, I did see him enter on the track before me, so it's the minimum that I can do for him. He gave so much over the years to us so it's the minimum I could do."

Bagnaia gave Martin full credit for clinching pole and the Pramac Racing driver said he took a risky approach to give himself the best chance of a second win of the season.

"In qualifying as always, we risk a lot," Martin said. "It's not an easy track because the layout is strange, it's not normal and also the grip is not perfect here. So, I was risking every lap, in every corner, but finally I could finish this lap.

"I'm really happy. My performance is good. You can see all the Ducatis are strong, so tomorrow will be a great battle but I think I have the pace to fight for the podiums."

Jack Miller, Bagnaia's Ducati team-mate, will round out the front row on Sunday.

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