Valentino Rossi provided both good and bad news for Yamaha at the factory's annual Yamaha Day, when the 28-year-old revealed that he doesn't expect to retire until the age of 31 or 32 - but might also need a new challenge.
"I have a contract with Yamaha for 2008, after that we will see," said Rossi at the Misano based event. "Maybe I will stop. What is certain is that I won't race beyond 31 or 32 - there is a limit for us all. I might need new a challenge in the years ahead, but for now I'm fully motivated."
Rossi will be 32 on February 16th, 2011.
The last time Rossi sought a new challenge was at the end of 2003 - when he sensationally walked out of Honda, the overwhelmingly dominant MotoGP manufacturer, for Yamaha, a team that took just one podium that season. The rest, as they say, is history.
Could Rossi's need for a new challenge see him try and win the world title for a third MotoGP manufacturer? It seems unlikely, and he would certainly need to again convince crew chef Jerry Burgess to move with him - Rossi recently stating that if the Australian decided to stop racing, he would too.
Nevertheless, Rossi has long been linked with forming an all-Italian dream team at Ducati, but the former five times MotoGP world champion - currently locked in a thrilling title fight with Ducati's new star Casey Stoner - played down such suggestions.
"I thought about Ducati in past, but I would never betray Yamaha," said Rossi. "Ducati has Casey now anyway."
Perhaps Rossi won't need to look elsewhere - Yamaha seem set to hand The Doctor a 'new challenge' in the form of having intense reigning 250cc world champion Jorge Lorenzo as a team-mate next season...
Meanwhile, prior to his Assen victory, Rossi had gone two races without a win.
"If you don't win for two races they say you are in a crisis! A rider ready to retire!" smiled Rossi, who caught and passed Stoner to win from 11th on the grid. "I was happy to do my talking on the track."
Rossi will now try to close Stoner's 21-point lead further at this weekend's German Grand Prix.
"Last year we were 51 points behind Hayden at one stage," underlined Rossi, who subsequently caught and passed Hayden to lead the world championship heading into the final round - only to fall, handing the American his first title.
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