Valentino Rossi: "I Want To Race In Superbikes!"

Valentino Rossi's future has been dominating the news now for weeks, if not months, with all the talk being of Rossi's impending switch to Ducati. But lost in all this talk of next year is Valentino Rossi's longer term future, and what he will do when he retires from MotoGP. It has widely been assumed by both media and fans that Rossi will make the transition to four wheels after racing on two, with Ferrari making no secret of their wish to retain the Italian, even going so far as to hint at the possibility of running a third car in Formula One for the Italian legend. If Rossi decided against Formula One, there was always the World Rally Championship, as rallying is Rossi's other great passion.

But recent indications are that retiring from MotoGP may not see the end of Valentino Rossi's life on two wheels. In an interview with Italian veteran journalist Paolo Scalera in the sports daily Corriere dello Sport, Rossi was asked to imagine it was 25 years from now, and he is looking back at his career, and in his imaginary future career, Rossi talked about rejecting F1 in favor of going racing in World Superbikes. His reasoning was simple and clear: "Bikes are for racing, cars are for fun," Rossi told the Corriere dello Sport, adding weight to the possibility ofa future switch to the rival series once he has completed his objective of beating Giacomo Agostini's records in MotoGP.

Rossi's tests aboard a Yamaha World Superbike at Misano and Brno, to check his fitness and whether he would be able to make a return to racing at the Sachsenring - something he did with great success - have added even more fuel to the WSBK fire, which lead journalists at Laguna Seca to question the nine-time world champion about his plans to race in World Superbikes. Here is what he was asked by the assembled press, and what he had to say about it.

Q: You were very fast on the Superbike. There were rumors a few years ago that you wanted to race against Troy Bayliss...

Valentino Rossi: Yes! I want to make a race in Superbikes. After the story with Bayliss appeared I was happy. But for me is interesting, maybe in the future I will do this.

Q: To ride with Biaggi or the guys in Superbike?

VR: I want to make a race in Superbikes, for me it's not important if is with Biaggi, Bayliss, or somebody else.

Q: When you rode the R1, certainly in Brno, your lap times were immediately very fast even though you were not at 100% and you had no experience of Pirelli tires, what do you think your performance showed about the difference between the level of riders in World Superbikes and the level of riders in MotoGP?

VR: For me, our level is clearly higher than Superbikes. No doubt. I don't know the people that continue to say that we have a fight with the two. So, the best riders race in MotoGP, and the Superbike motorcycles are easier to ride, Pirelli are more easy than Bridgestone. But at the same time, I have the sense that it's fun, the bike is big, is fat, slide, move everywhere. The races are fun, have a lot of very good riders over there, so is for that that I enjoy a lot Superbike. But I don't want to make a ranking, because MotoGP, the level is higher, this is clear.

Q: Speaking to Ben Spies, he says doing one Grand Prix is more difficult than doing two Superbike races in one day.

VR: Yes. When I ride the Superbike and Pirelli, it's like I return around 2003, 2004 for us: Big bike, sliding tires, you can make some mistake but recover. So especially the rhythm of the race, so you can win also if you don't make a perfect start or if you make some mistake. With MotoGP, from start to the end, is just one breath, you know. I think this is the bigger difference.

Q: When we switched to MotoGP, you said that 500 was a lot more difficult to ride. Do you think the same now?

Now for me, the bigger difficulty is the Bridgestone tires. You have to ride always thinking about the tires, and you have to make always the right procedure to put the tire in temperature. In fact, this year, a lot of big crashes is for that reason. 500 was more difficult the bike. Because it was more aggressive and no traction control, so, about bike the 500 remain more difficult.

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I wonder if watching Max Biaggi run away with WSBK this year is also making Rossi think about going there in a few years. Max is 8 years older than Rossi, and doing well, and we know who's the better rider between those two Italians.

I can't say I wouldn't love to have this to look forward to in 5 years. I hate the idea of Rossi leaving 2 wheels, and I'm really not that much of a Rossi fan.

The prospect of Rossi on two wheels for a few more years and "having fun" in WSBK is a mouthwatering prospect. But there's still unfinished business in MotoGP, I think. Yay! we could have him around for another decade :)

after reading Stoners coments on Bridgestones, things are not very good in the "rubber business".....

Hope that he goes to superbikes, i realy want to see him powersliding / smoking tires out of the corners again! - hey maybe that´s the solution: if they take traction control away they will be putting heat in to those bridgestones :-) problem solved !!!

after reading Stoners coments on Bridgestones, things are not very good in the "rubber business".....

According to Carlos Checa Pirelli seems to be closing the gap to Bridgestone performance wise, so the issues Stoner and Rossi stated might hit WSBK just a little bit later.

hey maybe that´s the solution: if they take traction control away they will be putting heat in to those bridgestones :-) problem solved !!!

I'm afraid not. As long as the teams have fixed budgets they will spend it anyway, allways trying to find a way (around rules) to get that little performance gain. David wrote 3 exellent articles about regulation in a racing serie like MotoGP

Sounds like not only should MotoGP get rid of the 800cc computers but also change the tires, is BS contracted for how many seasons or should they be forced to change them in favor of safety and racing?

Just like all the rest of them. Giving up is so hard to do. Driven home by his enforced layoff no doubt.

Rossi makes some generalised comments about the racing R1 vs M1 but how I would love to hear in more precise detail the differences (yes we know the obvious, but I mean feel, feedback and rideability) from him and more pertinently Mr Spies. How quick could a WSBK bike be with Bridgestones, carbon discs and 15kg less weight? Maybe 2012 will tell us?

Trouble with Rossi going to WSBK is he'll ruin the show. Unless he adopts Goberts approach of seeing how fat and lazy he can be and still win!

"I think he will announce little about his future plans for 2011 [after the Brno test]. He might even bring up the possibility of WSBK."---phoenix1

Vale's mind games are too predictable. He is an open book, his bargaining with Dorna is transparent :-P

Keep on, Valentino, I support your quest to hit up Dorna for more money. You're worth 20% of the TV audience in major markets, plus, you want GP to be 1000cc bikes with very little electronic interference.

If Valentino Rossi went to WSB, I wonder how that would affect the whole balance of MotoGP/WSB? Like him or loathe him, Rossi is still the major drawing point of the MotoGP "show". If he went to WSB, would the viewing figures/sponsorship shift over? If that was the case, MotoGP may well collapse. Not because of Rossi, but it seems the series is hanging on by its fingernails as it is. For Rossi to switch to WSB... would be interesting. If that happened, you just know Dorna would be begging for a combined series!

I think missing those races has turned out to be a blessing of sorts for Rossi. I sense it has given him more clout to negotiate with Dorna after they saw the diminished viewership numbers in Vale's absence.

Whereas before, Dorna merely "sensed" it was Rossi driving the audience numbers, now they have the figures to really prove it.

And that is more ammo for Rossi to use.

Just a crazy thought here but if Rossi is really considering this I wonder if he would feel his chances of taking a WSBK title are better against a bunch of the fast, young riders there than they would be against Jorge next year?

For what seems forever, it has always been the ultimate objective of WSBK riders to progress to MotoGP which has long seemed the pinnacle of Motosport.
But now the best living (nay, best EVER) motorcycle rider has said he would like to 'progress' to the Superbikes in a few years time. Maybe in future, WSBK will be the series all the MotoGP boys will want to progress to. Certainly as a spectator's sport WSBK is far more involving and competitive to watch than the usual three-way dogfight which makes up MotoGP.
For me, WSBK IS the ultimate series. It may not have million dollar bikes, but it has far more excitement, unpredictabiity and competitiveness than MotoGP and all on bikes I could feesibly have something very similar to parked in my garage.
Compare that to what amounts to the Rossi show (He alone brings what could be considered 'excitment' to the table) and there really is no competition.....

Come on over Valentino......WSBK will be glad to have you!