Let’s go back to the “Rossi question” not because the knot on the exit of the ace of Tavullia is the motorcycling catchphrase of this hot summer but because the near future of Valentino will still have strong repercussions for MotoGP and the MotoGP not only on the sporting level but also on the media and business. We don’t know how this story will evolve since the resumption of the next GP of Brno on August 4 and in the continuation of the season so far dominated by Marquez but with the Yamaha of Vinales and Quartararo in great evidence, the same as the Suzuki of Rins, while in great difficulty is just Rossi and the Reds are not better with Dovizioso and Petrucci. Let’s tighten up. In motorcycling there has always been a rule: just as when a rider repeatedly dominates races and championships it means that there is a clear superiority of the “package” (rider-moto-team) – as it was for example in the late ’60s and early ’70s in the case of Agostini-MV Agusta – on the contrary when the same rider no longer reaches the results of his golden seasons, the debacle can not be caused solely by the rider. Unless there was a traumatic event such as a serious fall or an irreversible crisis more or less accelerated to have entered the tunnel of end of career.
The beginning of the season with the fifth place in Qatar and the two seconds in Argentina and Texas obtained mostly with “conservative” races and also the result of the misfortunes of others, had deluded hiding the new reality. The more than dull eighth place at Sachsenring, almost 20 seconds from Marquez, the three crashes at Mugello, Barcelona and Assen, the sixth place in the general classification with a gap of 105 points from the top after being overtaken by his teammate Vinales and, without the fall of the rookie Quartararo, overtaken also by the M1 satellite of the young Frenchman are all real facts that have redefined the new values on the field and can anticipate a sentence: Rossi is proceeding with the step of the shrimp because he does not find the compass with respect to the problems of his M1 but especially suffers for the first time in his career the wave of competition from old and new opponents. Valentino remains a pilot but is no longer the Valentino of the triumphal epic of the golden years. And in front of Rossi there is not only a great opponent, in this case the usual “Martian” Marquez or the “usual” Ducati riders, but there are new ravenous “young lions”, some of which (two or even three) just riding those Yamaha accused by the rider from Pesaro. Hence the loss, less and less camouflaged, of Valentino and his team, more and more “on the boat”.
The novelty is given by Yamaha, who has taken to the field – a real stone-cutter for the 9-time World Champion and for all the ambaradan around him – with a statement by Lin Jarvis at the limit of irreverence: “We are ready after Rossi” referring both to the House of three tuning forks (“The future of Yamaha no longer depends on him”) and to MotoGP (“I do not think we will see half-empty circuits because in MotoGP the quality is very high and we have six manufacturers involved”. What is it, that of the tough impenetrable Jarvis, if not a sentence of “benservito”? There’s no shortage of the final with the salt on the wound: “We’ll miss Valentino very much, but life will go on”. As if to say, when a Pope dies, another Pope is made. We will soon return to the consequences for MotoGP of a Rossi who should not return competitive from the next races or even should, under the avalanche of increasingly less convincing results, really bid farewell to the races at the end of 2019, beyond what is provided for in the contracts. In this sense, the recent office defense of dad Graziano: “Valentino also runs in 2020 as per the contract” and even runs even further, it seems the classic patch worse than the hole, a put your hands forward in the face of a difficult situation, open to all sides, a situation that could even fall. For Valentino, the blanket is getting shorter and shorter and the “cover” of his old entourage can only harm him, at least for a career end that risks slipping on an inclined plane. Only Valentino’s prompt return with great pomp – convincing, fighting for the podium and for victory – can give a halt to a mechanism that Yamaha seems to have set in motion, irreversibly. The Iwata-based company is getting ready for the big step, that is to say, its presence in MotoGP with no more Reds. Now it’s up to Rossi to decide if it’s better to play Yamaha in the role of acclaimed and revered “honorary” champion – the “emeritus” champion – preparing together the times and ways of his exit or to re-launch the challenge of the rider who is anything but finished, under a new flag.