until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Rossi gets a farewell favour from his most successful protege

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

You might have spotted Valentino Rossi and protege Pecco Bagnaia running in unison in Rossi’s final MotoGP qualifying session at the Valencia Grand Prix.

They both insisted that their strategy wasn’t a pre-planned move – but instead was a spur-of-the-moment thank you from Bagnaia to his mentor as Rossi prepares to bow out of the sport after 26 years.

Aug 06 : Valentino Rossi's MotoGP retirement

Putting on an incredible display in this morning’s free practice three session to ensure direct qualification to Q2 for only the sixth time in his final season, Rossi was able to conserve himself and his tyres for the 15-minute Q2 session.

And to capitalise on the speed of his Ducati mentee by getting slotted in behind Bagnaia when it came to both attempts at setting a fast lap.

But, despite the close relationship between the pair off the track, Rossi insisted that it wasn’t something they had pre-planned, instead cheekily admitting that he had instead seen his opportunity and taken it.


“Pecco helped me in qualifying, and I’m very happy about it,” he explained, “but we didn’t have a clear plan. I just started behind him, he saw me, and he continued to push.

“Thanks a lot to him for helping me to improve my time.”

Despite Bagnaia falling on his second flying lap while Rossi was right behind him, the Petronas Yamaha rider said that didn’t hamper him significantly as he made his way to 10th on the grid for his final race.

“For me it was over [when Bagnaia crashed],” Rossi said when asked by The Race about Bagnaia’s incident.

“For me the good lap is the first lap with the rear tyre, because already on the second lap I lose something.

“I did 1m30.7s, and maybe I could have done a little better, but this is my potential.”

For his part, Bagnaia also insisted that there was no predetermined plan, at least between the pair of them.


But, with the 24-year-old 2021 championship runner-up owing much of his career success to Rossi’s VR46 Academy, he says that he was aware he had an opportunity to say thank you to his mentor on track for one final time.

“I saw him entering the track before me,” he explained, “and it was the minimum that I could do for him.

“He’s given a lot to us, and it was the minimum that I can to do say thanks.”

While 10th might have been Rossi’s potential in time attack mode, he’s optimistic about what he’s got to play with when the lights go out on Sunday afternoon for his final MotoGP race start.

“For me and for us, it was a great Saturday,” Rossi enthused about his final qualifying day.

“We did a good job in the morning, I improved the feeling with the bike, the tyres, the settings, and I was not so bad in the end.

“I was able to stay in the top 10, to go directly to Q2, and this changed a lot.


“This is a great feeling for me and the team in my last race.

“I think that apart from the emotional moments, it’s important for me to try and make a good weekend, a good result, and I will start in the top 10 so it was a good Saturday.”

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