Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) recently sat down with Radio Deejay to look back at 2017, on and off track, as well as lend a glance to the future – with that always a big talking point for both the rider from Tavullia and Yamaha. First on the agenda was the topic on everyone’s lips: the private test Yamaha undertook at Sepang, and what conclusions were drawn…

“The test went well, we tried the bike with the 2016 chassis and we decided that the prototype from this season was worse,” the Italian told the programme. “We have to wait and see how the new bike will be. It will be interesting and the starting point will be the 2016 bike. Now it’s a crucial moment and Yamaha must make a leap forward."

Going into more detail on the issues that plagued 2017, Rossi said he felt something wasn’t quite right from the start: "The problem is that Viñales arrived and he was strong with this bike right away. I tried it and I didn’t feel good. I thought it was the end of the season and I wasn’t in shape, and we continued with that project but it was a mistake. What didn’t work? We did a lot of research and in my opinion the bike didn’t go well where there wasn’t much grip and it was hot. The first three races we race out of Europe and there was a lot of grip, plus in Qatar the race took place in the evening. The trouble started in Jerez."

So, with a plan for the future laid out for the bike – a return to 2016 – Rossi talked about his own future, which is a hot topic as he gears up for 2018 and the final season of his current contract. “MotoGP without me? When it happens, some of my rivals will be happy,” laughed the rider from Tavullia. “And why do I have so much attention in the paddock? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a number of things – I’ve had a long career and won so much. And people fell in love! A lot of people who didn’t watch bikes started to follow it because of me.” Then asked if he’s afraid to stop racing, the ‘Doctor’ says that yes, he is – but that he can see another decade of competition on four wheels, interested in trying rallying and the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Finally, when quizzed about his private life, the Italian had a truly classic soundbite in response to being asked whether he has a girlfriend: “Girlfriends? I’m single. When it comes to races, I like to be alone with my team. I don’t have much time and the life of a rider doesn’t work well with girlfriends. I'm happily married to the bike!”

The next date for the ‘Doctor’ and his M1 is at the Sepang Test, the first official outing of the year at the end of January