Rossi: Making Moto GP popular my biggest achievement

Seven-times Moto GP world champion Valentino Rossi said he was pleased with his achievement in a glittering 25-year career of popularising the sport as he prepared for his final race at the Valencia Grand Prix.

The 41-year-old Italian will make his 432nd Grand Prix start this weekend having amassed a record 89 wins and 199 podium finishes in Moto GP. โ€œI think that the most positive thing in my career is that a lot of people started to follow Moto GP to follow my career from the beginning, and the sport became bigger, more famous in Italy but also all around the world,โ€ Rossi told reporters on Thursday.

โ€œItโ€™s good to understand that during my career I became something different, something like an icon and this is a great, great pleasure also if for a rider itโ€™s more important what happens on track, the result, everything.โ€

โ€˜Strange feelingโ€™

Rossi started his career in the 125cc category and won a world title in 1997, followed by the 250cc championship in 1999. He moved to the premier class a year later and won seven titles between 2001 and 2009.

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โ€œI always imagined this presser… this is a strange feeling. I want to keep it normal but thatโ€™s not possible. Great emotion right now,โ€ said Rossi, who took part in a special ceremony during which all his championship-winning bikes were presented before the media.

The Petronas Yamaha rider said he was disappointed at being unable to add a 10th world title. โ€œI fought a lot for the 10th championship… I was able to race at a good level. My last title in 2009 was a lifetime ago. I would have been happy to win another championship but I cannot complain. I had a great career,โ€ added Rossi.

Rossi has had a difficult final season, collecting only 38 points and achieving no podium finishes.

Yamahaโ€™s Fabio Quartararo sealed the title ahead of Ducatiโ€™s Francesco Bagnaia at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last month to become the first Frenchman to win a Moto GP world championship.

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