The 38-year-old might not retire for sometime though as he remains as competitive as ever in the search for title number ten. However, will MotoGP still be as big as it currently is once ‘The Doctor’ retires, and will there be enough talented riders to carry the sport?
A name that has been mentioned to take Rossi’s place is rookie Johann Zarco. The Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider has had the ultimate debut premier class season, almost reminiscent of Marc Marquez's first season at the top. Zarco led the race on debut in Qatar before crashing out - his short-lived lead was enough to show the motorsport world what the two-time Moto2 winner is capable of in the top class.
His impressive performance continued as he took his first podium at the French Grand Prix in May, by finishing behind eventual race winner, Maverick Viñales. The number 5 rider also got his first pole position in the Netherlands and finished in the top ten on several occasions, often being the first Yamaha over the line ahead of both Rossi and Viñales.
Still on the topic of rookies, three have been confirmed for the 2018 season; Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS), Thomas Luthi (Marc VDS) and Takaaki Nakagami who will join Cal Crutchlow on a second LCR entered Honda. Morbidelli currently leads the Moto2 championship, having won seven of the 12 races run this year so far. The 22-year old has been mentored by Rossi and has described working with the Italian great as being akin to working with football superstar Lionel Messi.
The Marc VDS rider is known as the coolest and calmest rider in the paddock, and has a quiet and focused demeanour. His smooth riding style would make for a long-lasting career in MotoGP. His teammate, and the younger of the Marquez brothers, Alex, will be spending another season in Moto2, but there is no doubt of him winning the championship in 2018 as both his closest rivals have now moved to the top class.
South African Brad Binder, the current Moto3 champion, still has a lot of developing to do in the intermediate class, but has shown what he is capable of in his debut season. Despite a less than impressive start, the Potchefstroom native has managed to finish in the top ten five times this year, often making his way to the front from the back of the grid. With KTM were to remain in MotoGP and if Binder were to stay with the team, there will be a seat waiting for him in the premier class.
It is impossible to compile a list of riders who will carry the sport without mentioning the reigning world champion, Marc Marquez. The 24-year-old is well on his way to taking over Rossi's mantle, with ‘The Doctor’ even saying that the Spaniard has the potential to be the greatest of all time. This of course is not an impossible feat as Marquez already has five world championship titles under his belt.
At the Honda rider’s current rate of race wins, podiums, pole positions and setting circuit and lap records, he is quickly on his way to being the greatest MotoGP rider of all time. His aggressive riding style, risk-taking behaviour on track week after week and his sheer determination to ride the Respol RC213V to its limit, makes Marquez unstoppable in MotoGP.