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Old 09-10-2015, 01:54 AM   #1
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Valentino Rossi interview: "May the best man win!"

motogp rossi six races left?itokk8HAxadQ When we asked Valentino Rossi if he remembered the last time he led the championship in mid-season, we had to remind him it was back in 2005. “Many things have changed in ten years!” he laughed.



Valentino Rossi has been by far the most consistent rider in MotoGP this season. Since his victory in the first GP of the year in Qatar, he has remained the leader of the championship. His teammate and archrival Jorge Lorenzo has gotten close to dethroning him twice (he was just 1 point behind Rossi after Barcelona and they were tied after Brno), but both times Rossi managed to pull a rabbit out of his hat and open the gap again, forcing Lorenzo to start from scratch. And the Spaniard, clearly on his game after a so-so start to the season, has increasingly fewer races remaining to catch up.

The duel between Rossi and Lorenzo is a dogfight between two very different riders: Lorenzo is 28 years old, while Rossi is 36. Theoretically, the Spaniard is in the maturity highpoint of a MotoGP rider, while Rossi on paper is an old man by comparison. Lorenzo has without question more speed than the Italian, but Rossi is mentally stronger than his teammate. And there is one more thing that can be determined at this stage of the season: Rossi has been luckier than Lorenzo. And in racing luck can sometimes be more important than the best bike on the grid.

When we asked Valentino Rossi if he remembered last time he led the championship in mid-season, he had to think about it. We had to remind him it was back in 2005. “Many things have changed in ten years!” he laughed. “Obviously, myself primarily. The only thing that has not changed is my desire to race. I have to say that after all these seasons I feel very well; I feel in shape. And this is a positive point for the goals I have. But it is still very difficult. Jorge is very strong. We have to improve in some areas, but I think we can do it.”

motogp rossi six races left1?itokybZiZRXT "There are circuits like Misano, Phillip Island and Sepang that I like very much but I don’t believe this season we (can) think this way. Silverstone was an example. It is a track where Jorge is very strong, he was clearly faster than me in the practice session, but then the rain came and everything changed. There are many factors that count and all the riders are in very good shape at this point of the season."



At 36 years old, Rossi has spent more time racing than not racing. A debutant in the World Championship at the age of 16, he has been GP racing for 20 years. When racing in the lower classes, he saw Mick Doohan dominating the major category and once there, he raced against the likes of Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez. “After competing for so many years, I have to say that the riders have changed. Today they are athletes and that’s why the physical condition has become so important…it’s the same as in football. Not so many years ago it wasn’t like this. You could be perfectly fine without riding a bike between races. You could sleep till late, you could drink some beers…and win the next day."

"All this has changed because the way of racing has changed. In the past, during the races you could control the other riders. Today, to win you have to be able to beat the lap record from the start and then you have to keep the same pace until the checkered flag. To be able to do it you have to be super-trained, but also super-focused. Obviously I had to change my habits (laughs). Fortunately I have always liked to do sports. The weekends when there is no GP I hang around at the ranch with the young guys from the VR46 Academy and with friends. It’s a good way to train and helps me to stay fit. The gym is fun, but I prefer to ride bikes.”

After competing for so many years, I have to say that the riders have changed. Today they are athletes...not so many years ago it wasn’t like this. You could sleep till late, you could drink some beers…and win the next day.In the duel against his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi has to battle the outright higher speed of his teammate with his years of experience. We reminded Rossi that not so many years ago he said that he is losing two or three seconds per lap with age.

“What I wanted to say at that time was that I was getting old!” he laughed. “Today the situation is different. Getting older means you get more experience. You have to have other strategies to try to get the maximum benefit. You have to know how to use your strong points and make the most out of them. And that’s what I do: I simply try to give the most of myself, that’s all.”

motogp rossi six races left4?itokpyWD1jyo “I have worked hard. Honestly, I hadn’t done it so much along my career. But before the start of this season I worked hard. I wanted to be ready for what was to come from the very first race. Since then, the only time I took off has been in July during the summer break. I spent one day partying with my friends.”



That last statement is not just lip service from Rossi. When he says he is giving his all, he is dead serious. The Italian is an absolute racing addict; he breathes racing 24 hours a day, he loves it. At Silverstone he was asked for the hundred thousandth time how he could have the determination and motivation he displays after winning so many championships and having more money than he had ever dreamed of. “It is very simple,” he replied. “I love what I do and I love this life, travelling around, going from one place to another. There is no other secret, it’s just this.”

This love for racing allows Rossi to analyze, study and be open to all that happens around him in the racing world. For example, he knows everything that is going on in Moto3 and Moto2, he knows all the riders, keeps an eye on everything new in riding style or training techniques. Rossi's improvement from last season to this has not been by accident. “I have worked hard. Honestly, I hadn’t done it so much along my career. But before the start of this season I worked hard. I wanted to be ready for what was to come from the very first race. Since then, the only time I took off has been in July during the summer break. I spent one day partying with my friends.”

“The fitness level of the actual riders has evolved. To stay at the top there is no other secret than work. I go to the gym but I also train on bikes. After a while the gym gets boring, so I need to spend as much time as possible sitting on a bike.”

motogp rossi six races left2?itokOPGzhgzo “The atmosphere is absolutely different from six or seven years ago”, says Rossi about his relationship with Lorenzo. “We both have matured. We both have been world champions. There isn’t the same power struggle between us. Today we are in the position to fight for the championship with mutual respect. We speak to each other, we compare our work and so we have information from two different points of view."



There are six GPs left in which the 2015 MotoGP champion will be decided. At this stage, I suppose all of us have analyzed which of the remaining circuits are good for Rossi and which are good for Lorenzo. “The secret will be to quickly find a good base set up at every track,” says the Italian. “You have to have it from the first day, because you need to arrive at the race on Sunday with the bike perfectly set up. This year the level is very high and you can’t give anything away. And as I have already said many times, I need to improve on things like qualifying and the race start.”

“I think the championship will be decided at the final race. It is difficult to say which circuit is better for one rider or for the other. I repeat: the level is very high, so the result of the race will be decided between the first practice session on Friday and the Sunday morning warm up. To be able to enter into the race focused has become crucial.

“OK, there are circuits like Misano, Phillip Island and Sepang that I like very much but I don’t believe this season we have to think this way. Silverstone was an example. It is a track where Jorge is very strong, he was clearly faster than me in the practice session, but then the rain came and everything changed. There are many factors that count and all the riders are in very good shape at this point of the season. Marc (Marquez), for example, has returned to his best level.

“The important thing is not unnecessarily losing one single point. My twelve podiums in twelve races mean that we are doing a good job, but it is not enough. We have to be stronger.”

The duel between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo isn’t new. They were teammates between 2008 and 2010, when Jorge Lorenzo arrived in MotoGP with a burning determination to defeat the reigning champion. Perfectly aware that Lorenzo was not just another rider, Rossi did everything to try to crush the young Spaniard, on the track and off. It was an arm wrestle that was finally conceded to the challenger; Rossi had no other choice but to leave the Yamaha garage.

motogp rossi six races left5?itok7gIajyry “The secret will be to quickly find a good base set up at every track. You have to have it from the first day, because you need to arrive at the race on Sunday with the bike perfectly set up. This year the level is very high and you can’t give anything away. And as I have already said many times, I need to improve on things like qualifying and the race start. I repeat: the level is very high so ...to be able to enter into the race focused has become crucial. “



“The atmosphere is absolutely different from six or seven years ago”, confirms Valentino. “We both have matured. We both have been world champions. There isn’t the same power struggle between us. Today we are in the position to fight for the championship with mutual respect. We speak to each other, we compare our work and so we have information from two different points of view. And I have to say that it’s surprising how we arrive at the same analysis and the same conclusions through different reasoning. We have different points of view, and this is interesting. Jorge and I have the opportunity to ride a good bike and we both are in good shape, physically and mentally…may the best man win!”

This weekend the first of the remaining six rounds of the Rossi/Lorenzo faceoff will take place in Misano. 100,000 spectators are expected, which means 100,000 hardcore fans will paint the circuit stands yellow. Valentino confesses this has its positives and negatives. Too many friends, too much pressure…unless you have lived around it, it is difficult to imagine the power and pervasiveness of the Valentino Rossi phenomenon in Italy.

With a 12-point advantage in the provisional standings—there are still 150 points to be distributed—a win over Lorenzo in Misano could be decisive for Rossi’s aspirations to take his tenth world championship. An incredible achievement, although Rossi says it wouldn’t be his best title.

“Many journalists ask me the same question. For me, this title would be important, but not more than some I have already won. Some championships still are unforgettable to me, like the 500cc in 2001. It was the last chance to win on a two-stroke machine! My first title in 2004 with Yamaha is also a very strong memory. Yes, it would be nice to add the number ten to the list, but I don’t want to think about it. I am going to concentrate on each race.”




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