Valentino Rossi says the coronavirus pandemic means he will have to take a decision on his future before the 2020 MotoGP season starts.

The Italian great will lose his factory Yamaha seat to Fabio Quartararo, who impressed during his rookie campaign last year, from 2021.

Yamaha offered to support Rossi should he want to continue, promising the "availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike" in a statement released in January.

Rossi had planned to delay a call on his future until the middle of this season, but with no racing having taken place yet due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he concedes he may have to take a call before returning to competitive racing.

"I am in a difficult situation, because like I said my first option is to try to continue because I have enough motivation and I want to continue," Rossi said in a Yamaha-organised social media interview.

"But it's very important to understand the level of competitiveness, because, especially in the second part of last year, we suffered very much and too many times I was too slow and I [could not fight for the] first five positions.

"So, in my mind, I have another year with the factory team and I need time to decide.

"And for me, I need like five/six races to understand with the new chief mechanic [David Munoz] and some modifications in the team if I can be stronger.

"The problem is [there is] no racing, so with the virus we have no racing. So, I think I will have to decide before racing because in the most optimistic situation we can race in the second half of the season.

"Around August or September, we hope, if everything is good. I have to make my decision before [then]. But anyway, I want to continue, but I have to do this decision without making any races.

"For sure, it's not the best way to stop because the situation is maybe we don't race in 2020 [at all].

"It's more fair to make another championship and maybe stop at the end of the next [year]. So, I hope to continue in 2021."

Valentino Rossi is "cheering on" fellow Italians who have seen their communities turned into a "war zone" by the coronavirus and has not made a decision on his MotoGP future.

Italy has been the hardest hit of any nation as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, 4,825 losing their lives in the country.

With the season on hold due to the virus, the seven-time MotoGP champion has offered his support to those so badly affected.

"Here in Tavullia the situation is difficult, unfortunately many people are sick here and also in Pesaro. We must all hold on, waiting for this moment to pass," the Yamaha rider told Sky Sport Italia.

"We cheer for the people of Bergamo and Brescia. I have seen very bad images, it looks like a war zone.

"I have many friends there and right now I’m the one cheering them on, while usually I’m the one they cheer for.”

Rossi will not rush into making a call on whether to continue racing next year after the start of the season was delayed.

He added: "It was hard [The cancellation of the season-opening race in Qatar], because we understood that we would not have run just on Sunday before leaving [for Qatar].

"This has messed up my plans, we will have to understand when we will be able to run. Things seem to go long, they have cancelled the European Championship in football.

"As for my choice, I was hoping to decide whether to continue after the first part of the season, but now everything slips. I would like a few races to understand how competitive I can be, that would be important."

Valentino Rossi will delay making a decision on his MotoGP future until the middle of next season despite losing his factory Yamaha seat to Fabio Quartararo from 2021.

The legendary Rossi was asked to take a call on his long-term plans ahead of what will his 21st campaign in the premier class and 15th year with Yamaha.

Rossi endured his worst Yamaha season to date in 2019 and Maverick Vinales' contract extension this week meant there was more doubt about the Italian's place at the team.

On Wednesday, Yamaha announced Quartararo will join Vinales for the 2021 and 2022 seasons but have promised Rossi of the "availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike" should he wish to continue.

"For reasons dictated by the riders' market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future," said Rossi, a seven-time premier-class champion. 

"Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn't want to rush any decision and needed more time. 

"Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations. It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021. 

"Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me. 

"I'm happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season."

Quartararo is one of the hottest young prospects in MotoGP having scored seven podiums, five of which were second place, and six pole positions in his rookie season, finishing fifth in the overall standings.

Next term he will continue to ride with the Petronas Yamaha team before partnering Vinales from 2021.

"I'm delighted about what my management has achieved in the last few months together with YMC," he said. 

"It was not simple to establish, but now I have a clear plan for the next three years and I'm really happy. I will work hard, like I did last year, and I’m extremely motivated to achieve great performances."

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez will be aiming to cap another extraordinary season with yet another record in the final race of the campaign in Valencia.

Marquez had his sixth world title wrapped up with four races to spare after triumphing in Thailand last month, and has since gone on to set a new points record in MotoGP.

The Repsol Honda rider is now just five shy of becoming the first rider to reach 400 points in a single season.

Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi needs a podium finish in the season finale to avoid equalling his longest run without one in MotoGP.

Using Opta numbers, we take a look at the best facts ahead of the final race of 2019.

395 – Marquez's tally of 395 is a MotoGP record for a single season, while the Spaniard has also achieved 17 podium finishes.

23 – Excluding abandonments, Marquez has finished in first or second place in each of his last 23 races, his best such run in MotoGP.

7 – Maverick Vinales has finished on the podium seven times in 2019. He has never tallied eight podiums in a MotoGP season.

15 – Rossi, who has not won in his last 45 Grands Prix appearances, has not finished on the podium in his last 15 races, meaning he needs to do so on Sunday to avoid matching his poorest run of 16 between 2011 and 2012.

8 – There are some good omens for the Italian, however, with Rossi having triumphed eight times at the Ricardo Tormo circuit – more than any other rider.

12 – Andrea Dovizioso won the last Valencia Grand Prix, breaking a 12-year run without a victory for an Italian rider in the traditional season finale.

50 – Alex Rins will be bringing up a half-century of MotoGP races; he has two wins, eight podium finishes and two fastest laps in the top category.

244 – Marquez, who has won in only one of his six appearances at Valencia, has led for 244 laps this season in MotoGP – 51 more than the rest of the riders combined.

0 – Jorge Lorenzo could finish without a win, podium or pole position for the first time in his 12 seasons in MotoGP.

Seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi is delighted to have the chance to make his 400th grand prix start at Phillip Island.

Rossi is set to become the first rider in history to reach the milestone at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix and the Monster Energy Yamaha star was in a reflective mood.

The Italian, who has claimed nine titles across all classes, has taken part in 42.5 per cent of all motorcycle grand prix events since the start of the world championship in 1949, scoring points in 353 of his 399 starts.

"It's been a long, long time," said Rossi. "It's something you don't expect, especially when I was young, but in my career I've never had a clear idea of what will happen or how long I have to race.

"When I was 17 you see a guy that is 25 years old and it felt like your grandfather! Now I am 40, imagine!

"It's a good achievement because I didn't know what to expect when I started my career.

"It is good to make the 400 here in Phillip Island as it is an iconic place for MotoGP and all the riders love the circuit because it is something special compared to the rest. It is one of the best places."

While the riders got to enjoy the sun around media activities on Thursday, rain is forecast for when they take to the track across the weekend.

"We pray, everybody prays, for the weekend weather to be like this with the blue sky and fantastic temperature," said Rossi.

"Unfortunately, the good weather has arrived a little bit too much in anticipation of the weekend so we will have to fight with difficult conditions at Phillip Island. Anyway, it is always a pleasure."

World champion Marc Marquez equalled Mick Doohan with his 54th career MotoGP victory after winning the Japanese Grand Prix.

Marquez was scintillating as the six-time MotoGP champion cruised to his 10th victory of 2019 at Motegi on Sunday, with Repsol Honda sealing the constructors title.

The Honda star was scorching on the track, blitzing Fabio Quartararo to move level with Doohan in third on the all-time list for MotoGP wins.

After wrapping up another premier class title in Thailand last time out, Marquez made history by claiming pole position at Motegi, meaning he had earned pole at every circuit on the sport's calendar.

It was an exhibition for Marquez, who left the chasing pack in his wake and sealed a 21st successive finish inside the top-two positions.

Quartararo finished nine tenths adrift to be Marquez's nearest challenger as the Yamaha rider clinched the Rookie of the Year.

"It was not easy, especially because I was pushing from the beginning, because the strategy was clear - I tried to open a gap in the beginning because I felt very strong in the warm-up," Marquez said after celebrating his fourth successive victory.

"Honestly speaking I start to play a lot with the switches and everything, because like you see [he parked right after the chequered flag], with the fuel and everything I was on the limit. When I take these two seconds, I start to play again with the switches.

"Was not easy to ride because you needed to think many, many things on the bike, but I was able to manage in a good way to finish the race [within] the limit."

Andrea Dovizioso earned his 100th podium, while it was a miserable outing for Valentino Rossi – who did not finish the race.

 

TOP 10

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +0.870secs
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +1.325s
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +2.608s
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) +9.140s
6. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) +9.187s
7. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +9.306s
8. Joar Mir (Suzuku Ecstar) +10.695s
9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +14.216s
10. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +18.909s

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 350
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 231 (-119)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 176 (-174)
4. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 176 (-174)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 169 (-181)

Teams

1. Ducati 400
2. Repsol Honda 383 (-17)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 321 (-79)
4. Petronas Yamaha 263 (-137)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 246 (-154)

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