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Valentino Rossi extends contract with Yamaha through 2018 season

DOHA, Qatar -- Valentino Rossi extended his contract with Yamaha for another two years, keeping the seven-time MotoGP world champion at the Japanese team until the end of the 2018 season.

Rossi returned to Yamaha in 2013 after two disappointing years at Ducati and the Italian racer was immediately competitive again, finishing runner-up the past two seasons.

"I am very satisfied with this decision because it has always been my plan to compete in motorsports for as long as I can be competitive and find it enjoyable at the same time," Rossi said in a statement by Yamaha. "Ever since I returned to Yamaha in 2013 I have felt like I am home again and this showed in the results.

"I get great enjoyment out of working with my crew and the rest of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. Their support for me has known no limit and I want to thank them sincerely for that. I'm feeling greatly motivated to keep riding my YZR-M1 for the best results possible, this year and the following two seasons."

The 37-year-old Rossi lost out on the title last year after he was forced to start from the back of the grid in the final race of the season as punishment for kicking out at defending champion Marc Marquez in the previous race.

Needing to finish second, Rossi was fourth and race winner and teammate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain clinched the title.

The new season starts this weekend in Qatar.