After eight championship wins, six world titles and 264 trophies, Valentino Rossi announced his retirement from professional racing.
In a stroke of timing that reflected just how close he and his sport had come to a perfect end, he announced the news on the final day of the season at the season-ending MotoGP race in Valencia, Spain.
The 36-year-old, nicknamed “the Doctor,” set up home. One of the finest cyclists of his generation, with 19 Grand Tour stage wins to his name, didn’t feel like riding any further.
“I feel satisfied with my career,” said Rossi, adding: “If there are no more victories, it’s time to say goodbye to racing.”
Rossi announced his retirement shortly after saying goodbye to his father Roberto, who had spent 14 years as his coach at the home of the heartbreak Ducati team.
“As I was kissing him, I knew that this was my last day. To finish at home would have been boring but now with all these fans, I’m extremely happy,” Rossi said.
Rossi is set to start the final MotoGP Grand Prix, in his hometown of Assisi, on Saturday with plans to mark his retirement with a final Grand Prix win.
He had looked certain to drive out of motorcycling’s highest ranks this weekend after Spain’s reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, the new MotoGP championship leader with a 600-point advantage in the standings, was docked five points for crashing into Rossi at the Australian GP in April.
That presented Lorenzo with a chance to close Rossi’s lead.
Rossi, who was fourth in Spain, is set to meet with fans on Saturday and greet motorcycle racing’s fans from all over the world in the Grand Prix of Assisi, a 250-mile-long route covering the landscapes of northern Italy, the southern mountains and the Mediterranean beaches.