Valentino Rossi: "Superbikes Are Prototypes, And I Want To Race One"

Valentino Rossi's desire to race in World Superbikes is well documented, the seven-time MotoGP champion saying as much at Laguna Seca three weeks ago. And upon his return to the circuit he tested Yamaha's YZF-R1 superbike, to assess his fitness to decide whether he would be fit enough to race at the Sachsenring or not, Rossi once again underlined that he would one day like to race in the series.

Rossi was responding to questions on whether it would be possible to race in two classes in the same season. Rossi said that right now, the Moto2 class held no interest for him, and so it was not a goal worth pursuing. "I think the Moto2 is a great show, and is a great opportunity for a lot of riders," Rossi said, "but is not an impressive bike to ride. When you ride a MotoGP, no meaning to ride a Moto2. Maybe it would have more meaning to ride a 250."

When asked whether he thought it would be possible to race in both MotoGP and 250 for a full season, Rossi said that he did not feel it was possible. "I think all the races in a season is difficult," Rossi said. "It is a big effort, and at the end of the season, you make a bad result in two classes instead of making a good result in one." Racing in World Superbikes was something he would consider first, though. "Make some races in Superbike is more interesting," Rossi told reports. "I want to try it, also at the beginning of last year, I wanted to try."

Rossi hoped it was a goal he could realize at some point. "Maybe in the future I will have the chance to do some races in Superbike," the Italian said, but he emphasized that he did not want to race the whole season. "Just one race," Rossi said. Rossi was also asked about the differences between the two bikes, in the light of Cal Crutchlow's pole time at Silverstone being within seven tenths of Jorge Lorenzo's pole set on the MotoGP machine. Rossi reiterated once again that the biggest difference was in the tires: "The Superbike has qualifying tires," Rossi explained. "So if we have qualifying tires, we can go 1, 1.5 seconds faster than the pole of Jorge, so it's more than two seconds."

But the fact that the Sterilgarda Yamaha World Superbike machine could get so close to Jorge Lorenzo's Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1 was a sign that the Superbikes had moved away from their original intent, Rossi said. "For me, the problem is that the Superbikes are not the normal street bikes like in the rules, but are prototypes," Rossi told the media. But despite the similarity, the MotoGP machines were still a completely different machine, Rossi explained. "Riding the Superbike is good, I like it a lot," Rossi said, "but when you go with the MotoGP is another world, is a lot better." The comparison? "It's like the Ferrari Formula 1 and the DTM Mercedes I tried."

Back to top

Comments his looming contract(s) for next year and beyond.  I can already imagine in the contract negotiations:  "I want ride the factory Superbike on off-weekends for MotoGP.  Before season start, middle of season during break, no?"

I can't imagine that Yamaha would have had a problem with that, but perhaps the sponsors couldn't get on-board.  Maybe we'll see a "Ferrari Red" Ducati at the first few rounds in WSBK from now on.

Hayden as his team mate in one garage, and Edwards his team mate in the other...?

... Rossi on a 1098 for Misano or Monza next year. I doubt Course will mind.

The only thing I could see the manufacturers having an issue with is the inevitable comparison between lap times. What does it say about the MotoGP program and/or pilots if Rossi can go run very close to (or better than) the times the GP bikes are laying down and do so aboard a "production" motorcycle? I'd love to see Vale in WSBK, but I just wonder if everyone would.

Anyone who knows anything about WSB machines would know that you're not looking at "production" bikes in the normal sense of the word.

And the tyres - as Rossi says above - are a major difference. Put a MotoGP bike on qualifiers and it will be two seconds faster than the WSB bike.

But yeah, the squids that make up the volume sales would struggle to comprehend why the MotoGP bike wasn't any faster than "their" bike : )

rossi is not going to go quicker or close to as quick on a superbike to his own time on a moto gp bike at the same track. it's been pointed out before, but compare race fastest laps between a superbike and a moto gp bike- without the Q-tire on the superbike, there is a much bigger difference in times.

this kind of comparison used to be made between the 250 and the 500 times in the late 90's, as at some tracks, the 250 was within a hair's whisper of the 500 times. what happened? aprilia and honda built lightweight 400cc and 500cc twins to capitalize on this, and promptly went nowhere racing against the 500's.

An opening WSB round at Philip Island or a midseason gap at Monza seems within reason. Of course, Dorna would be the biggest loser. Imagine the one day TV ratings or attendance of a race at Monza with Rossi on a Ducati!

I actually doubt he would ever do it. I speak fluent Rossi. He said WSB is less than MGP. He did not say equal or use some other challenging language. Therefore if he did not win a WSB race, he would be less. I am sure he'd like to but in the end it's just Rossi working the room.

If there is anyone liberal enough to take a the PR chance, it would be an Italian factory (see Marco Simoncelli / Aprilia) and Vale seems to enjoy the experience. I guess we can see when the schedules are published for both series if any of the Euro main-land races make sense for him to possibly be included. All this testing / I want to race Troy Bayliss / these bikes are fun talk is great. Unfortunately this is probably just VR press only.

Superbikes are 1000cc Motogp are 800cc with less fuel..
thats why SBK are so fast. if we had 1000cc motogp bikes with 5 years more development and gun tyres they would be quicker again

This is what I don't understand about MotoGP. If Dorna truly wants to show off to the rest of the world that MotoGP is the "Premier" class where the best riders in the world ride the best bikes in the world, then they need to govern the limitations that are in place to allow the bikes to do so. Granted, I realize that the MSMA basically controls the rules and regulations of GP racing, but seriously, when you have World Superbikes lapping that close to MotoGP bikes someone up top needs to realize that this is a serious issue. You simply cannot have two different series where the competition is that close and yet still claim that GP is the "best of the best." I understand that originally rider safety was the issue, and one of the biggest reasons that the switch was made to 800cc's and fuel was limited, but now listen to all these riders who are complaining about the limited number of track lines and reliance on electronics in order to maintain peak performance around corners.

Give these guys qualifier tires, 24L fuel cap, and the 1000cc, and let the engineering take care of the rest. The biggest HP bikes will not always be the quickest. Rather it will be the rider again, who has the uncanny ability to balance a bike between its threshold and norm and produce the quickest times and altogether providing fans with the raw racing features we have long since desired.

GP performance is not the problem. I don't approve of the current GP formula, but MotoGP is much faster than 500cc GP. The MSMA have reduced engine capacity and fuel capacity while introducing a control tire and engine life rules, yet the bikes continue to go faster (maybe not this season or in 2009, but in general). Cost is the problem with GP.

WSBK performance is the problem, imo. The FIM never should have allowed the Flamminis to create a second 1000cc prototype racing class in 2004 when the MSMA were kicked out of the SBK commission. Hindsight is 20/20. Everything was going very well at the time so I guess no one really cared to think about the consequences of 1000cc prototype SBK. SBK needs a complete reboot, but I don't think it will happen until the contract with the Flamminis expires after 2020, IIRC. Maybe the manufacturers can do something before then.

Rossi announces his retirement from MotoGP, moves to the Ducati Corse team in WSB.

Now guess the year.

Much as we'd all love to see this one day, it just doesn't feel right. And the hardest thing to understand (probably for him as well as us) is exactly why he finally retires from MotoGP. I can't see him moving full time to WSB by choice. Everyone else who has made that switch lately (Biaggi, Haga, Bayliss, Checa, Barros) has had to because nobody wanted them in MotoGP. How bad does his riding have to become before Ducati fire him? It doesn't work does it. If he feels he can't get on the podium in MotoGP, will he still feel he can win a WSB championship? That doesn't feel right either.[1]

I think more likely is that he'd do a Lawson. Retire from MotoGP but do 4 or 5 races a year for a couple of years. Since the Daytona 200 is dead that would be the Suzuka 8 hours, Monza or Imola WSB, Thundersprint (!), perhaps a vintage day at Brands Hatch. Or how about one of the just slightly more sensible road races like the NW200.

[1]Then there's the bit we won't mention. We discovered this year, he's not unbreakable.

I think we are a very long ways away from Rossi struggling to get on the podium in MotoGP. Even through pain and injury he is still putting up podium numbers and performances. If Rossi had been healthy all season long, I ponder that this WOULD have been the greatest motorcycle racing season in history. However it seems that Rossi has conceded the title to Lorenzo this year much like the rest of the grid. Lorenzo has been too flawless, too Rossi-esque all season. The only thing that held him back last year was his collar bone injury.

I still think Rossi's will to win is unbreakable. He has built himself up so much, that like many others, he sees himself as the greatest of all time, and if anything, this is going to make him push himself harder and harder to become even better much like it did last season.

I honestly feel his crash this year wasn't because he was feeling pressured by Lorenzo. The tires this year, and I'm abstractly quoting Casey, "have been complete sh**."

Rossi still has that itch. And it's that itch to be the best of the best that will keep him going until he physically can no longer keep up, which barring another freak crash, I presume to be at least a couple years off. He just has such passion for the sport, much like Michael Jordan or Brett Favre here in the US. You develop such a love for what you do. It's so apparent in all of his interviews that this is what he loves to do. It's what he lives for. I think he would find himself overly bored after claiming every podium in WSBK.

Picking up on another point if Rossi does jump on a wbsk I think it may be from pressures of Dorna with them getting rossi on the sbk and making a mockery of the current motogp lap times it would give them a better stand point in legal terms so they can counter attack the wsbk owners on terms that the bike is a extremely over developed street bikes thus that puts the sbk in a prototype status in dorna's eyes and as there's no clear definitions in terms of "prototype" / "superbike" I'm guessing it's down to the legal argument put forward and the discretion of the adjudicators ??? And with a legal battle likely to be filed by the wsbk owners any time soon maybe drona is drawing every card they can