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)

An altercation with home favourite Valentino Rossi gave Marc Marquez "extra motivation" to triumph at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Marquez had to start the race in fifth – his worst qualifying performance of the MotoGP season – after he and Rossi exceeded the track limits while vying for position on their final flying laps on Saturday.

The Repsol Honda rider managed to move up to third on the opening lap and soon passed Maverick Vinales, who finished third, before spending much of the race behind rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo.

Although Marquez's championship rivals Alex Rins and Andrea Dovizioso respectively crashed out and lacked pace, the reigning champion made a late push for the win and emerged triumphant from a last-lap battle with Quartararo.

Marquez was greeted with boos and chants of "Vale" when he took to the podium as the fans rued Rossi having to settle for fourth behind Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate Vinales.

"I knew it wasn't necessary to win because I saw Rins was out and Dovi was far [behind]. But honestly speaking, [Saturday] was the extra motivation, the extra push for the race," said Marquez.

"I tried to stay there and stay there and decided I'd try [to overtake] on the last lap. I knew Fabio was really fast in turn three so I tried to overtake him before that and then I closed the corners and tried to be smart.

"It's nice to win in Italy, but even nicer to lead by 93 points in the championship."

Quartararo had looked destined to become the second-youngest race winner in MotoGP but was left with a fourth podium of the season as consolation.

Nevertheless, the 20-year-old Petronas Yamaha rider was proud of his performance and having the chance to fight it out with Marquez at the head of the race.

"It was a tough race. I gave 100 per cent I think I made a good race," said Quartararo.

"But today is the first time we had a fight with Marc, we finished really close to the victory and I can say that was the best moment of my career fighting with a seven-time world champion.

"It was a great moment and I hope to be in this position again soon."

Marc Marquez came out on top after a thrilling last-lap battle with Fabio Quartararo to win the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Petronas Yamaha rookie Quartararo led for the majority of the race and looked set to become the second-youngest rider to top a MotoGP podium, but reigning champion Marquez denied him at the death.

The lead changed hands three times on an enthralling final lap, before the Frenchman had to sit up at turn 14 and thus granted Marquez enough of an advantage to hold on for the win.

Pole-sitter Maverick Vinales had to settle for third, taking the final step on the podium ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate and home favourite Valentino Rossi.

The victory was Marquez's 77th across all classes and moved him past Mike Hailwood into sole ownership of fourth in the all-time list, while extending his lead in the riders' championship to 93 points.

Marquez may have produced his worst qualifying result of the season at Misano but he was up from fifth to third by the end of the opening lap.

Quartararo, who had been tipped to challenge for victory at the British Grand Prix last time out but crashed on the first corner, made his move on Vinales on the back straight and Marquez followed him on the next lap with a clever dive down the inside at turn nine.

The duo dropped Vinales and were left to battle it out for the win on their own. The Repsol Honda rider failed with an attempt to pass before finally securing the overtake into turn one on the final circuit.

Quartararo regained track position quickly but gave it up just as fast, and when he misjudged his line at the start of the final sector the game was up.

Alex Rins triumphed at Silverstone but slid out after being handed a long-lap penalty and then retired from the race, while Andrea Dovizioso – Marquez's nearest rival in the championship standings – finished behind Franco Morbidelli in sixth.

Pol Espargaro started second - Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's best qualifying performance - but finished seventh, while Jorge Lorenzo was down in 14th and over 47 seconds behind Marquez.

TOP 10

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
7. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
8. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
9. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 275
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 182 (-93)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 151 (-124)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-126)
5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 134 (-141)

Teams

1. Ducati 333
2. Repsol Honda 308 (-25)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 263 (-70)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 200 (-133)
5. Petronas Yamaha 192 (-141)

WHAT'S NEXT?

There is only one week to wait until the Aragon Grand Prix, where Marquez has won in each of the past three years.

Fabio Quartararo continued his fine pace over a single lap to pip Marc Marquez and sit top of the MotoGP timesheets after FP2 at the Czech Republic Grand Prix.

A late effort from Petronas Yamaha's rookie star, who has claimed pole in two of the last three races, saw him beat reigning world champion and standings leader Marquez by just 0.023seconds.

Friday's action in Brno took on an added importance with rain expected during Saturday's FP3, meaning these times are likely to prove crucial in determining the 10 riders who seal automatic progression to Q2.

The Ducati machines looked competitive with Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso setting identical times 0.269secs behind Quartararo, closely followed by in-form Maverick Vinales in fifth and Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins.

Valentino Rossi - who overcame a mechanical issue - and Danilo Petrucci are also in the top 10 as things stand, the latter narrowly edging Joan Mir into 11th, while Takaaki Nakagami crashed in FP2 and had to settle for 12th.

Dovizioso, who sits second in the riders' championship and won last year's race at this circuit, had topped FP1, with Marquez also coming second in that stint.

But every rider went faster in a competitive later session, with just 0.423s covering the top six and under a second between the 13 fastest riders on the track.

Repsol Honda star Marquez has won five of the nine races this season and added three second-place finishes, giving him a comfortable 58-point advantage over Dovizioso going into this event, the first since MotoGP's mid-season break.

Marc Marquez looks to be running away with the MotoGP championship, and will hope to extend his lead by triumphing for a 10th successive time at Sachsenring.

The German Grand Prix is next up, and Marquez - who is in the hunt to beat a personal record - has proved unbeatable across his last nine races in Chemnitz.

Maverick Vinales pipped Marquez to victory in Assen in raceweek eight, however, and the Yamaha rider will be looking to build on his third-place finish in last season's German GP.

Here, we take a look at some of the other key numbers ahead of the race, courtesy of Opta.

9 –If Marquez triumphs, it will be his seventh MotoGP victory at Sachsenring, surpassing the six wins he has at the Circuit of the Americas. He would also overtake Giacomo Agostini as the record-winner in Chemnitz.

3 – Valentino Rossi has abandoned the track in his last three MotoGP races, his worst run since 2011. He has never abandoned four successive races in his 20 seasons in the top category.

2 – Andrea Dovizioso has only finished on the podium in two of his previous 11 appearances at the German Grand Prix, in 2012 and 2016.

16 – After his abandonment in the Dutch TT at Assen, Alex Rins' run of 16 consecutive races in which he collected points came to an end.

15 – Honda have won 15 of 21 MotoGP races at Sachsenring, including each of the last nine.

5 – Andrea Iannone finished fifth in three of his five previous races at the German GP, although he came outside the top 10 in both 2017 and 2018.

75 – This will be Jack Miller's 75th race in MotoGP. He has recorded one win, two podium finishes, one pole position and one fastest lap during his previous 74 outings.

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