After 26 years, Valentino Rossi will retire from MotoGP at the end of 2021

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After 26 years competing in the MotoGP Series, Valentino Rossi, 41, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the 2021 season. The announcement came after the five-week summer break as the series prepares for the Styrian Grand Prix in Austria.

Superlatives are easy to express.

In his legendary career, Rossi earned nine World Championships, 115 victories and 235 podiums in 414 starts entering the weekend. With one championship in the 250 class, another in 125s and seven in the top division, Rossi is the only rider in history to win in all three divisions. A total of 89 wins came in the elite class.

His announcement was bitter-sweet, coming at the track on which he won his first podium in 1996.

“I said I would make a decision for next year after the summer break, and I decided to stop at the end of the season,” Rossi said in a release. “Unfortunately this will be my last half season as a MotoGP rider. And it’s difficult, it’s a very sad moment because it’s difficult to say it and know that next year I will not race with a motorcycle, I’ve done that for I think more or less 30 years!

MotoGP of Netherlands - Race
Rossi’s involvement with MotoGP will continue in 2022 with the debut of his new team. (Photo by Steve Wobser/Getty Images)

“Next year, my life will change. But it was great, I’ve enjoyed it very much. It’s been a long, long journey and it was really, really fun. It’s 25, 26 years in the World Championship, so it was great. And I had unforgettable moments with all my guys, the guys who work for me, so … I don’t have a lot to say! Just this.

“I had a very long career and fortunately I won a lot of races, but I have some moments and victories that are unforgettable. Pure joy. Some things where I laughed for a week and after 10 days I’d still be laughing, wonder why and remember the race. It’s difficult, yes.”

In addition to his seven titles in MotoGP, the most recent of which came in 2009, Rossi finished second in the points five times, including three times consecutively from 2014 through 2016.

Rossi’s 89th and latest MotoGP win came in the 2017 Dutch GP. His podium count slowed at the same time with six coming in 2017, five in 2018, two in 2019 and only one last year. Last year’s campaign was also marred by a battle with the COVID-19 virus that caused him to miss two of the 14 rounds.

So far through nine races of 2021, he has not yet stood on the podium with a best of 10th in Italy.

The decision to retire came during what may be the most difficult season of Rossi’s career. He lost his factory Yamaha ride and elected to campaign in what has become his farewell tour with some backing from Yamaha at Petronas SRT. The season has been less than stellar, however, with no podiums, just 17 points earned and a ranking of 19th in the standings.

Last year, Rossi finished 15th in the standings. He was seventh in 2019, making 2018’s third-place effort his most recent competitive season.

“A difficult decision but you need to understand … I think in the end in sport, the results make the difference,” Rossi said. “So at the end I think it’s the right way. It’s difficult because I had the chance to race for my team in MotoGP, together with my brother, something that I would like. But it’s ok like this I think

“We have another half season, I don’t know how many races, I think it will be more difficult when we arrive at the last race, but for now it’s just to say my decision to everyone. I can’t complain about my career!”

Rossi will not disappear completely as he is set to launch his own team in 2022 with a Ducati.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)