Multiple world champion Mick Doohan has high praise for the nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi for continuing in MotoGP with a wish to still keep winning races and titles.
Rossi will be 40 in February and still has two years in his contract with Yamaha which will see him compete in MotoGP for at least until the 2020 season. When many sportspersons decide to retire from their respective sport, Rossi is motivated to continue on and perform.
The Italian’s passion and will to succeed is helping him to continue on in the journey, something which another of the two-wheel legend, Doohan is in awe for. The Australian is not surprised by his performance but by his durability and the want to win.
“I’m not surprised by his performance but his durability and his want to win and to ride as long as he has…there aren’t too many people globally, no matter what discipline, who push themselves for that long at the top of any sports,” said Doohan to MotoGP website.
“There aren’t many golfers even! He’s amazing, he’s great for the sport without a doubt, a great character and he adds flavour to the race no matter what, if he qualifies poorly he’s still there, and I think that shows the quality of the rider -t hat the bike perhaps isn’t as good at the moment but he can qualify 12th but come Lap 1…or he’s on the podium.
“So I think the strength of the Valentino’s, the Marquez’ and one or two other guys is in their mental application and their ability to keep pushing lap after lap after lap and that’s where the other guys aren’t so strong. They’re not as consistent and they’re not as strong day in day out.”
When asked if the competition against him or Rossi was supreme than currently against Marc Marquez, the Australian felt it was more on how people perceive it to be. He reiterated that Marquez’s caliber cannot be decided solely on that.
“You can’t change people’s perception,” he said. “I don’t know where they expected the competition to come from, the competition is the best in the world at the time so to say the other guys aren’t any good is a bit disrespectful for the other guys who are racing.
“There were plenty of World Champions, 250 or whatever, racing against Valentino and me…but equally I raced against the Rainey’s, the Schwantz’, the Lawsons…so to same you’re racing guys who aren’t capable of winning is not the right thing either. And Valentino has proven he can race against anybody.
“He’s now 40 years old though! Which is impressive in itself. The only thing that’s changed is that the bikes with the electronics in qualifying mode, and it’s been happening for years in qualifying that it’s getting closer and closer.
“But come race day there’s still…at the beginning, it’s a bit closer but at the end of the race it’s still two guys or one guy is out there. So I think it’s a different situation with the motorcycle evolving rather than the competition being poor back in the day.
“But still Marc can come, and Valentino, from 20th on the grid and get to the front – so what does that say about everybody else on the grid? I think the only thing is it’s a bit easier for the bikes to ride so it’s easier for the guys to stay on the pace a little bit longer.
“But a Marc, or we’ve seen it from Valentino, they can ride bikes when they’re not working so well and others can’t do that.” While he praised Rossi for pushing on, he is disappointed with how Yamaha has performed in the last few seasons.
“Disappointing is one word,” he said. “Yamaha has always been so strong, they go up and down a little bit but to go from Maverick at the beginning of last season when he came out so strong and then the bike just seemed to fall off a cliff. Is it the bike?
“How did they make something so bad? Who knows. But it seems like in the last few races they have got the bike a bit better. But over the history of the sport they’ve been one of the strongest, the recent history since the seventies, it’s been Honda Yamaha Honda Yamaha.
“When I was competing with Honda, changing their mentality a bit to keep the development of the bike fairly neutral instead of big swings and highs and lows…I think Yamaha still do that a lot.
“When I first got to Honda, one year it would feel good and then they’d just tear the paper up and start a new bike for next year and it was like ‘where did this bike come from?!’ The team got Honda to keep the good parts and try and develop the bad parts, and that’s when Honda started becoming more consistent.
“Yamaha I still think they still tear up the paper and then when you try and find a part again, that’s gone. Honda used to do that too, they’d put a new part on and think ‘this feels ok’, so the other one had completely gone when you tried to look for it. Whether Yamaha are still in that mindset I’m not sure.”
[Read: Doohan on Marquez]