Moto GP star Valentino Rossi confirmed he will end his career with Yamaha but called on teammate Jorge Lorenzo to show him “respect” in what could be the Italian's 15th and final season.
Nine-time world champion Rossi missed out on the 2015 world title by five points to Lorenzo after the Spaniard won the final race of the season in Valencia in controversial fashion.
At the Spanish circuit, Rossi was forced to start from the back of the grid as punishment for his role in a collision with Spanish rival Marc Marquez, who had crashed out of the penultimate race in Sepang, Malaysia.
Rossi, who fought his way through the field to finish fourth after failing to get past Lorenzo and Honda riders Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, later accused the Spanish trio of a cosy agreement to stitch up the result.
Speaking Monday at the launch of Yamaha's new M1 bike, the 36-year-old Rossi said he could race beyond the 2016 season but confirmed his intention to finish his career with the Japanese manufacturer.
“I would like to race also after 2016. In any case, I will end my career with Yamaha,” said Rossi. “I want to try and be at the level I've had for the past two years, this is my aim, then we will see during the course of the championship whether I'm capable of fighting for the title.”
Relations between Lorenzo and Rossi have been strained for some time, and the Italian added: “I've always respected Jorge Lorenzo but he's respected me a little less. Let's hope the respect will be mutual this season.”
It remains to be seen whether the pair can patch things up. Lorenzo has already said Rossi missed his final chance for a 10th world title last season.
“He knows that he let slip this year the opportunity to win his 10th championship and that is hard to accept,” Lorenzo said after his triumph last year. It's obvious there are younger riders who are faster than him. None of this controversy and comments would have happened if Valentino had the speed of Marc, of myself, and had won more races.”
But Lorenzo on Monday said he had no problem with Rossi, or other rivals, and was hoping either one of them would triumph.
“I hope next season finishes like last season, in the sense that our rivals will be behind us,” said the Spaniard. “I hope to win again, or if not, Valentino. The important thing is that the team wins.”
Asked about his relationship with Rossi, Lorenzo said: “The situation for me is normal, as it was before. I don't have problems with anyone, neither with Rossi, Marquez or Pedrosa. I will shake hands with everyone.”
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