Valentino Rossi opens up on the emotion of Francesco Bagnaia’s MotoGP glory | MotoGP

Bagnaia emerged from Rossi’s VR46 Academy and became the first Italian rider since his mentor, in 2009, to win the premier class title.

Rossi was present in Valencia, a track where he had previously lost out on the championship amid final day drama, to see Bagnaia hold off Fabio Quartararo to top the MotoGP standings.

“It was time for an Italian to win the title again,” Rossi told Sky. 

“It’s been a long time, this was the best possible way, for us the fact that Pecco succeeded is special.

“Pecco makes you very involved, this is a great merit, it’s nice to work with him, give him a hand, all those who work with him do it with great taste.”

Asked if he suffered watching Bagnaia fight for glory, Rossi said: “It was certainly a difficult race, but I was calm, because Bagnaia put the bike back in the warm up as he likes, he went very fast, so I saw him more relaxed than in qualifying. Quartararo still had a great race. He rode hard to the end.”

Bagnaia will be joined in the 2023 MotoGP rider line-up by Enea Bastianini, who earned the step-up from Gresini as the expense of Jack Miller and Jorge Martin.

Bagnaia’s first season defending the title will be fascinating due to the competition from his own teammate – in 2022, they have valiantly fought wheel-to-wheel.

Marc Marquez, the longtime rival of Rossi’s, spent much of 2022 out injured but has vowed to return with a vengeance in 2023 seeking a seventh premier class title.

One more title for Marquez would draw him level with the legendary Rossi’s tally – even more motivation for the Italian to assist Bagnaia.

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