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Valentino Rossi keen on racing in Suzuka 8 Hour again in the future

Valentino Rossi says he is open to returning to the Suzuka 8 Hour race with Yamaha, but only after he retires from MotoGP

The Italian has contested the endurance race twice, while riding with Honda at the start of his 500cc grand prix career, winning in 2001 with Colin Edwards.

He has not returned since, despite suggestions Yamaha would look to pair him with MotoGP team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in 2015.

The 2016 race was held in the middle of MotoGP's summer break, which for Rossi rules out a return while he still racing full-time in the championship.

But with his next Yamaha contact likely to be his last, running until the end of the 2018 season, the 37-year-old says it could then be on his radar again.

"I like that race a lot and I'd love to do it with Yamaha," he said.

"But not during the MotoGP season, maybe when I stop.

"Essentially now I'm too old and we don't have enough time for the 8 Hour.

"In reality, it's the only week or 10 days we have for a holiday between the first part [of the season] and the second part.

"So if you spend that week at Suzuka it's a big stress physically and mentally and you can pay in the second half.

ROSSI DOESN'T WANT NUMBER RETIRED

On the eve of this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix, MotoGP officially retired the number 58 used by Marco Simoncelli, who Rossi described as a younger brother.

Rossi has become synonymous with the number 46 during his 20-year career in motorcycle grand prix racing, and while the numbers of Kevin Schwantz and Loris Capirossi were retired at the end of their careers, Rossi does not want that treatment when he walks away from MotoGP.

"My first impression is that I don't like that the 46 [could be] cancelled," he said.

"I prefer that it remains and if some other rider wants to take that number, they can."

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