Valentino Rossi has declared rumours of his impending retirement “not true” and forecast that a deal with SRT could be announced before the end of the month.
Recent reporting in European media had outgoing Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso potentially taking the seat at Petronas Yamaha SRT which had been earmarked for the seven-time premier class champion.
The Malaysian outfit’s Team Principal Razlan Razali dismissed the suggestion, and Rossi himself has now restated that an agreement is close.
He identified the Catalunya Grand Prix, on the last weekend of September, as a possible time for the announcement.
“No, it’s not true; the situation is like two or three weeks ago,” said the 41-year-old of the speculation.
“We take time with Yamaha because we are not in a hurry and we have something to fix, but we are very close to sign and I will race with Petronas next year.
“I want to say 99 percent because it is not signed, but I think that maybe in Barcelona we can give the announcement.”
On why the rumour has surfaced, Rossi put it down to the high level of interest in his future.
“What I think is that my retirement is big news, no?” he pondered.
“So, if on the internet you write that ‘Valentino retires’, I think a lot of people click to read, a lot of MotoGP fans.
“I think it is for this reason; I don’t have any other reason because the situation hasn’t changed and I tried to explain a lot of times that I will race also next year, but maybe it is more interesting to say that I retire.”
He then added jocularly, “I don’t know if it is because they (media) want me to retire. I don’t know this, maybe not.”
Rossi has been in line to move to Yamaha’s satellite team after the Japanese marque signed Fabio Quartararo to the factory squad before the start of the current season, when the veteran could not commit to continuing in 2021.
If he does indeed sign on with SRT, it would represent a direct swap with the Frenchman and put Rossi in the same team as protégé Franco Morbidelli, who has already re-signed for two more years.
The San Marino MotoGP round kicks off this evening (AEST).