Rossi ready to say 'ciao' to fans in final Misano bow

Misano Adriatico (Italy) (AFP) – Valentino Rossi said Thursday that he is ready to wave goodbye to his army of adoring Italian fans in the Emilia-Romagna MotoGP, which will be the motorcycling legend's final Grand Prix in front of his home supporters.

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Seven-time MotoGP world champion Rossi will retire at the end of this season, bringing down the curtain on a storied career which has made him an icon of the sport and a hero to millions of Italians.

The 42-year-old will step onto the track at Misano, the track where he cut his teeth as a rider, for the last time in front of an expected crowd of 35,000 and he insisted now was the time to step aside.

"It's a great chance to say 'ciao' to all the Italian fans, it's always great to race here in Misano in my home circuit," Rossi told reporters.

"It's been a long story, it's more than 400 races and a long career. I just want to say thank you to everybody because I had and I have an incredible support all over the world.

"It's always a sad moment when you arrive at the end but anyway it was good, we enjoyed it."

Asked how he wanted to be remembered Rossi, one of the sport's most personable characters, said he didn't know how to answer.

After a pause, he said he hoped "that the people enjoyed it with me to follow the races during all these years".

Rossi hasn't lived up to his best years during his slow march towards retirement this season and sits 21st in the overall standings after only making the top 10 twice all season.

He is hoping for a better result on Sunday than he achieved at Misano in September's San Marino MotoGP, where he finished a lowly 17th in front of another emotional crowd.

"Try to stay concentrated, and try to think not that it's last race in Misano, but that it's a real race," Rossi said.

"I think best way is to try to be competitive and try to be at the maximum. A good result can be staying in the top 10, obviously that is not easy."