Valentino Rossi

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Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi 2010 Qatar.jpg
Nationality  Italian
Born (1979-02-16) 16 February 1979 (age 35)
Urbino, Tavullia, Italy
Current team Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
Bike number 46
Website valentinorossi.com
Motorcycle racing career statistics
MotoGP World Championship
Active years 2002
Manufacturers Honda (20022003)
Yamaha (20042010, 2013–)
Ducati (20112012)
Championships 6 (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009)
2013 Championship position 4th (237 pts)
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
213 67 131 45 53 3,495
500cc World Championship
Active years 20002001
Manufacturers Honda (20002001)
Championships 1 (2001)
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
32 13 23 4 15 534
250cc World Championship
Active years 19981999
Manufacturers Aprilia
Championships 1 (1999)
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
30 14 21 5 11 510
125cc World Championship
Active years 19961997
Manufacturers Aprilia
Championships 1 (1997)
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
30 12 15 5 9 432

Valentino Rossi (Italian pronunciation: [valenˈtiːno ˈrossi]; born 16 February 1979) is an Italian professional motorcycle racer and multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with nine Grand Prix World Championships to his name – seven of which are in the premier class.

Following his father, Graziano Rossi, Valentino started racing in Grand Prix in 1996 for Aprilia in the 125cc category and won his first World Championship the following year. From there, he moved up to the 250cc category with Aprilia and won the 250cc World Championship in 1999. After graduating to the premier class in 2000, he won the 500cc World Championship with Honda in 2001, the MotoGP World Championships (also with Honda) in 2002 and 2003, and continued his streak of back-to-back championships by winning the 2004 and 2005 titles after leaving Honda to join Yamaha, before regaining the title in 2008 and retaining it in 2009.[1] He left Yamaha to join Ducati for the 2011 season,[2][3] but it was confirmed in 2012 that he would rejoin Yamaha for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.[4]

Rossi is first in all time 500 cc/MotoGP race wins standings, with 80 victories, and second in all time overall wins standings with 106 race wins, behind Giacomo Agostini with 122.

Career[edit]

The early years[edit]

Valentino Rossi was born in Urbino, Marche,[5] and he was still a child when the family moved to Tavullia. Son of Graziano Rossi, a former motorcycle racer, he first began riding at a very young age.[6] Rossi's first racing love was karting. Fuelled by his mother, Stefania's, concern for her son's safety, Graziano purchased a kart as substitute for the bike. However, the Rossi family trait of perpetually wanting to go faster prompted a redesign; Graziano replaced the 60cc motor with a 100cc national kart motor for his then 5-year-old son.[7]

Rossi won the regional kart championship in 1990.[8] After this he took up minimoto and before the end of 1991 had won numerous regional races.[6]

Rossi continued to race karts and finished fifth at the national kart championships in Parma. Both Valentino and Graziano had started looking at moving into the Italian 100cc series, as well as the corresponding European series, which most likely would have pushed him into the direction of Formula One. However, the high cost of racing karts led to the decision to race minimoto exclusively.[citation needed] Through 1992 and 1993, Valentino continued to learn the ins and outs of minimoto racing.

In 1993, with help from his father, Virginio Ferrari, Claudio Castiglioni and Claudio Lusuardi (who ran the official Cagiva Sport Production team), he rode a Cagiva Mito 125cc motorcycle, which he damaged in a first-corner crash no more than a hundred metres from the pit lane.[9] He finished ninth that race weekend.[9]

Although his first season in the Italian Sport Production Championship was varied, he achieved a pole position in the season's final race at Misano, where he would ultimately finish on the podium. By the second year, Rossi had been provided with a factory Mito by Lusuardi and won the Italian title.

125 cc, 250 cc and 500 cc World Championships[edit]

The Aprilia RS 125 (left) and 250 (right) with which Rossi won the 125cc World Championship in 1997 and the 250cc World Championship in 1999.

In 1994, Aprilia by way of Sandroni, used Rossi to improve its RS125R and in turn allowed him to learn how to handle the fast new pace of 125 cc racing. At first he found himself on a Sandroni in the 1994 Italian championship and continued to ride it through the 1995 European and Italian championships.

Rossi had some success in the 1996 World Championship season, failing to finish five of the season's races and crashing several times. Despite this, in August he won his first World Championship Grand Prix at Brno in the Czech Republic on an AGV Aprilia RS125R. He finished the season in ninth position and proceeded to dominate the 125 cc World Championship in the following 1997 season, winning 11 of the 15 races.

By 1998, the Aprilia RS250 was reaching its pinnacle and had a team of riders in Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Tetsuya Harada. He later concluded the 1998 250 cc season in second place, 23 points behind Capirossi. In 1999, however, he won the title, collecting five pole positions and nine wins.

Rossi was rewarded in 2000 for his 250 cc World Championship by being given a ride with Honda in what was then the ultimate class in World Championship motorcycle racing, 500 cc. Retired 500 cc World Champion Michael Doohan, who also had Jeremy Burgess as chief engineer, worked with Rossi as his personal mentor in his first year at Honda. It would also be the first time Rossi would be racing against Max Biaggi. It would take nine races before Rossi would win on the Honda but, like his previous seasons in 125 and 250, it would bode well for a stronger second season as he finished second to American Kenny Roberts, Jr..

Rossi won his first 500 cc World Championship in 2001 (winning 11 races) in the final year of that class. In the following year, 500cc two-strokes were still allowed, but 2002 saw the beginning of the 990 cc four-stroke Moto GP class, after which the 500 cc machines were essentially obsolete. In 2001 Rossi teamed up with American rider Colin Edwards for the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race aboard a Honda VTR1000SPW. The pair won the race despite Rossi's lack of experience racing superbikes.

MotoGP[edit]

Honda (2002–2003)[edit]

2002
Rossi riding his Honda RC211V MotoGP bike

The inaugural year for the MotoGP bikes was 2002, when riders experienced teething problems getting used to the new bikes. Rossi won the first race and went on to win eight of the first nine races of the season, eventually claiming 11 victories in total.

2003

It was more of the same in 2003 for Rossi's rivals when he claimed nine pole positions as well as nine GP wins to claim his third consecutive World Championship. The Australian GP at Phillip Island in 2003 is considered by many observers to be one of Rossi's greatest career moments due to unique circumstances. After being given a 10-second penalty for overtaking during a yellow flag due to a crash by Ducati rider Troy Bayliss, front runner Rossi proceeded to pull away from the rest of the field, eventually finishing more than 15 seconds ahead, more than enough to cancel out the penalty and win the race.

Partnered with increased scepticism that the reason for his success was the dominance of the RC211V rather than Rossi, it was inevitable[dubious ] that Honda and Rossi would part. Mid-season rumours pointed towards a possible move to Ducati, which sent the Italian press into a frenzy; the concept of the great Italian on the great Italian bike seemed too good to be true. Ducati did indeed try to seduce Rossi into riding their MotoGP bike, the Desmosedici, but for numerous reasons Rossi passed the offer up. Critics say that compared to the other manufacturers, Ducati had a significant way to go before being competitive even with Rossi at the helm. This proved to be the truth with Ducati's lacklustre performance in the 2004 season, which had actually been worse than their inaugural year in MotoGP in 2003.

In his 2005 autobiography, "What If I'd Never Tried It?", Rossi offers another reason for choosing Yamaha over Ducati, saying that the mindset at Ducati Corse was a little too similar to the one he was trying to escape from at Honda. Ultimately, Rossi signed a two-year contract with rivals Yamaha reportedly worth in excess of US$12 million; a price no other manufacturer, even Honda, was willing to pay.

Yamaha (2004–2010)[edit]

2004

With the traditional first race of the season at Suzuka off the list due to safety considerations following the fatal accident of Daijiro Kato, the 2004 season started at Welkom in South Africa. Rossi won the race, becoming the only rider to win consecutive races with different manufacturers, having won the final race of the previous season on his Honda bike. Rossi would go on to win eight more GPs in the season, primarily battling Sete Gibernau, with Rossi clinching the championship at the penultimate race of the season at Phillip Island. Rossi ended the season with 304 points to Gibernau's 257, with Max Biaggi third with 217 points.

2005

In 2005 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, Rossi captured his 7th World Championship and fifth straight MotoGP Championship. He finished with a total of 367 points, 147 points ahead of second place finisher Marco Melandri (220 points), and Nicky Hayden finishing third with 206 points.

2006

The 2006 MotoGP season started off with Rossi, once again, being the favorite to take the Championship, but he had trouble in the first half of the season. Hayden held the points lead throughout most of the season, but Rossi was slowly working his way up the points ladder. It was not until Motegi when Rossi finally grabbed 2nd in the points race behind Hayden. In the Portuguese Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the season, Hayden was taken out by his teammate, Dani Pedrosa, and did not finish the race. This led to Rossi taking the points lead with only one race left in the season. However, Rossi crashed early in Valencia, the last race, and Hayden went on to win the 2006 MotoGP Championship. Rossi finished the season in second place.

2007
Rossi at the 2007 Dutch TT

Rossi returned to MotoGP for the 2007 season riding the new Yamaha YZR-M1 800 cc. In the first race in Qatar he came second to Casey Stoner on the Ducati Desmosedici. In the second round of the season Rossi won the second race of the season in Spain, and would win three more races that season. Stoner dominated the season, winning ten races to take his first title, 125 points clear of second place Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa’s win in the last race at Valencia combined with Rossi’s retirement meant that he beat Rossi into third place by a single point. This was Rossi’s lowest championship position since his first season in 1996 in 125s.

2008

For 2008 Rossi changed to Bridgestone tyres. The season started slowly with a fifth place finish in Qatar, but he took his first win in Shanghai, and also won the next two races. From that race, Rossi was on the podium of every remaining race (except the Dutch round at Assen, where he crashed on the first lap and finished 11th), winning a total of nine races in the season. His victories at Laguna Seca (after a pass down the “Corkscrew” corner over Stoner,[10][11][12] who crashed but continued and took the second place) and at a rain-shortened race in Indianapolis, meant that Rossi has won in every current circuit in the calendar. His win in Motegi was his first victory there on a MotoGP bike. The victory at Motegi won Rossi his first 800cc MotoGP title, his sixth in premier category, and eighth overall.

The 2009 season saw Rossi win six races to win his ninth championship title, beating his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo into second place by 45 points. Six wins was the lowest number of wins Rossi has had in a championship winning season; the previous lowest was nine in 1999 in the 250 cc class and 2003, 2004 and 2008 in MotoGP.

Rossi celebrates his 100th career victory at the 2009 Dutch TT in Assen

His victory at the 2009 Dutch TT in Assen was Rossi's 100th victory, becoming only the second rider in motorcycle grand prix history to reach 100 wins.[13]

On 8 June 2009, Valentino Rossi rode a Yamaha around the famous Isle of Man TT Course in an exhibition lap alongside fellow Italian motorcycle legend Giacomo Agostini, in what was called 'The Lap of the Gods'.[14]

2010
Rossi celebrates victory at the 2010 Qatar Grand Prix

The 2010 season began with Rossi topping most of all pre-season testing sessions and took victory in the first race of the season in Qatar, after early leader Casey Stoner crashed out. Rossi injured his shoulder and back while training on a motocross bike after the Japanese Grand Prix was postponed to October due to the disruption to air travel after the second eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. The following two rounds Rossi was beaten by team-mate Lorenzo with Rossi complaining about shoulder pain. The injury was not taken seriously initially and was expected to cure in a few weeks, but did not turn out as expected and the ligament tear in the shoulder failed to sufficiently heal.

On 5 June 2010 at his home race at Mugello, Rossi crashed in the second free practice session, around the Biondetti corner, at around 120 mph (190 km/h). Rossi suffered a displaced compound fracture of his right tibia, and after post-surgical care close to his home in the hospital at Cattolica, it was diagnosed that he was likely to be out for most of the season.[15][16] It was the first time that Rossi had missed a race in his Grand Prix career.[17] However ahead of the British Grand Prix, Suzi Perry reported in her Daily Telegraph column that Rossi was planning on making a comeback at Brno.[18] This was confirmed a week later by Rossi himself.[19] On 7 July, Rossi rode at Misano on a Superbike World Championship-specification Yamaha YZF-R1 provided by the Yamaha World Superbike Team to test his leg's recovery.[20] He completed 26 laps during two runs, with a best lap time that was around two seconds off the pace of recent World Superbike times at the circuit. At the conclusion of the session, Rossi complained of discomfort, reporting pain in both his leg and his shoulder.[21][22] On 12 July, Rossi took part in another test at Brno, after which Rossi stated he was happier and a lot more in form.[23] After an observation by the Chief Medical Officer on the Thursday before the weekend, Rossi made his return at the German Grand Prix, two rounds earlier than predicted[24] and only 41 days after the accident. He managed to end the race in fourth place after a battle with Casey Stoner for third. He added another race victory to his name at Sepang, Malaysia on his way to collecting ten podiums throughout the whole season, including five podiums in a row in the final run in of the season, where he finished third in the overall standings.

Ducati (2011–2012)[edit]

2011
Rossi during a pre-season test at Sepang in February 2011.

On 15 August 2010, after the Brno race, Rossi confirmed he would ride for Ducati Corse, signing a two-year deal starting in 2011,[2][3] joining former Honda racing team-mate Nicky Hayden on the team. He tested the Desmosedici for the first time in Valencia on 9 November 2010,[25] making his first appearance since 1999, on an Italian motorcycle.[26] Rossi underwent surgery on his shoulder which he injured during the 2010 season,[27] in order to be ready for preseason testing in Malaysia. After original progress during the first test,[28] the Ducati failed to meet the team's expectations at the second Malaysian test and left Rossi unsatisfied, having finished over 1.8 seconds behind Casey Stoner's pace-setting Honda.[29]

Rossi started the season finishing seventh in Qatar, before a fifth in wet conditions at Jerez, despite a collision with Casey Stoner, which Rossi later apologised for.[30] Another fifth place followed in Portugal, before a third place at Le Mans, benefitting from a collision between Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli, with Pedrosa retiring from the race and Simoncelli given a ride-through penalty. Rossi then finished the next four races inside the top six, with a best of fourth at Assen. Ninth at the Sachsenring, was followed by a pair of sixth places at Laguna Seca and Brno, and a tenth place at Indianapolis.

A seventh place finish at Misano was followed by a tenth place finish in Aragon, before a first-lap retirement in Japan, after contact with Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, which left Rossi with a blow to his finger.[31] He also retired in Australia, crashing out midway through the race. In Malaysia, Rossi qualified ninth but was involved in a collision with Marco Simoncelli and Colin Edwards on the second lap of the race. Simoncelli fell while running fourth, landing in the path of Edwards and Rossi, who both hit Simoncelli's Honda with Simoncelli's helmet also coming off in the incident. Simoncelli later died of the injuries he sustained in the crash, and the race was cancelled.[32] At the final race in Valencia, Rossi retired at the first corner after Álvaro Bautista fell from his bike and took down Rossi, team-mate Hayden and Randy de Puniet in the process. With his retirement, Rossi finished a season winless for the first time in his Grand Prix career,[33] and finished seventh place in the championship.

2012

Rossi started the 2012 season slowly with a tenth place in Qatar, ninth at Jerez and seventh in Portugal. At Le Mans he scored his first podium of the season; he was involved in a fight for third position from the early stages of the race with Tech 3 pairing Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, but both riders hit trouble and left Rossi on his own. Rossi later closed down Casey Stoner, and passed him in the closing stages. Rossi finished seventh in Catalunya, while at Silverstone, Rossi was fastest in the first free practice session, but finished the race in ninth. After a thirteenth place finish at Assen, Rossi finished sixth at the Sachsenring and fifth at Mugello.

Return to Yamaha (2013–)[edit]

2013

On 10 August, it was confirmed that Rossi would leave the factory Ducati team at the end of the 2012 season,[34] after two seasons with the team. Later that day, it was also announced that Rossi would rejoin the Yamaha factory team until the end of the 2014 season, partnering Jorge Lorenzo.[4]

Rossi was reacquainted with the Yamaha, when he tested the bike between the 13th and 14 November 2012 at a post season test at Valencia. However, rain prevented him from posting an accurate lap time, until he next tested the 2013 machine between the 5th and 7 February 2013, in Sepang, where he posted a 3rd fastest time of 2:00.542 out of 28 riders, clocking 0.442 seconds from pace setter Dani Pedrosa; and just 0.113 seconds off his Factory Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo.

He kicked off the season with 2nd place at season opener in Qatar followed by 6th at Circuit of Americas and 4th at Jerez. In Le Mans he crashed but was able to finish in 12th place which was followed by a crash at home race in Mugello after making contact with Alvaro Bautista. In Barcelona at Catalunya he finished 4th. On 29 June 2013 Rossi won the Dutch TT at Assen, his first MotoGP win since Malaysia in 2010, after passing Dani Pedrosa on the sixth lap of the race. He finished third in the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring on 14 July, behind race winner Marc Márquez and Cal Crutchlow. At the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, Rossi finished in third place, his third consecutive podium finish. Before the end of the season, he obtained two more third place finishes in Aragon and Australia, finishing fourth in the final championship standings, with 237 points.

2014

At the end of the 2013 season, Rossi announced the conclusion of his long collaboration with crew chief Jeremy Burgess, who was replaced by Silvano Galbusera, the former crew chief of Marco Melandri in the Superbike World Championship.[35]

Rossi started the season well, with second place finishes in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix – after battling with Márquez until the last lap for the victory – and at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez. He continued his podium finishes with his third second place of the season at the French Grand Prix. On 1 June 2014, Rossi appeared in his 300th Grand Prix race, at his home round at Mugello.[36] He finished the race in third place.

Rivalries[edit]

Earlier in his career Max Biaggi was considered Rossi's main rival. Although they had not even raced against each other until 2000, the rivalry between the two had been growing since the mid-'90s. The rivalry died down as Rossi's consecutive World Championships and Biaggi's struggle to find support and a consistent rhythm with his races.

In his autobiography "What If I Had Never Tried It", Rossi makes a number of claims about the reasons for his rivalry with Biaggi, and some of the incidents which led to its escalation. The rivalry was also featured in the 2003 documentary film, Faster.

The podium after the 2010 Australian Grand Prix, with Casey Stoner flanked by Jorge Lorenzo and Rossi.

Rossi's closest rival in the 2003 and 2004 seasons was Sete Gibernau, riding with Team Gresini's Movistar Honda team on a satellite RC211V in 2004 and then on an all but in name factory RC211V, which Gibernau helped to develop, in 2005. Initially they were quite friendly in the paddock and off – Gibernau partied on occasions with Rossi at the Italian's Ibiza villa – but a souring in their relationship began in the 2004 season and culminated in the "Qatar Incident" that same season when Rossi's team was penalized for "cleaning" his grid position to aid in traction, along with Honda Pons' Max Biaggi, and both riders were subsequently forced to start from the back of the grid. A number of teams, including Gibernau's Team Gresini and the official Repsol Honda factory team, appealed successfully to race direction for Rossi to be sanctioned. Rossi and his chief engineer, Jeremy Burgess, insisted that they were doing nothing more than what many others had done before when faced with a dirty track.

Since then the two have not spoken and Rossi seemed to resolve to use the incident to apply psychological pressure on Gibernau. Rumours of Rossi having sworn that after the Qatar race, which Gibernau won while Rossi crashed out after rising to 6th position, he would do everything to make sure that Gibernau never stood on the highest step of the podium again. However, Rossi has denied these claims.[37] Gibernau retired from Grand Prix racing after an unsuccessful, injury blighted 2006 season with Ducati and he never won another race after Qatar, prompting some in the Spanish and Italian motorcycle racing media to explain this fact by way of reference to the "Qatar Curse."[citation needed]

In 2007, Casey Stoner emerged as a rival for Rossi. Coupled with a Ducati, the young Australian won the first race of the year, followed by many more victories resulting in his claiming of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship title. Stoner's and Rossi's rivalry came to a dramatic climax at Laguna Seca Raceway in 2008. After numerous position changes, Rossi overtook Stoner at the Corkscrew. The bold move caused Rossi to run into the dirt and broken pavement on the inside of the right turn, and his rejoining the track came close to causing a collision between the two riders. A few laps later, Stoner went into the gravel on the slow entry into turn 11. Stoner picked up his bike to finish second, while Rossi took the win. After this, Casey Stoner made the comment, "I have lost respect for one of the greatest riders in history." For the comment, Stoner apologised to Rossi at the next race.[38]

In 2008, Jorge Lorenzo joined Rossi in the factory Yamaha Motor Racing team, which started a new rivalry. Rossi won the 2008 title, with Lorenzo suffering two serious crashes at Laguna Seca and China. In 2009, Rossi and Lorenzo resumed hostilities with Rossi emerging as champion again. In 2009, Rossi defeated Lorenzo in several tight battles, at Valencia, Assen, Sachsenring and, most memorably, Lorenzo's home race at Catalunya, after passing him in the final corner to take victory. In 2010, Lorenzo finally emerged victorious in the championship battle, after Rossi first injured his shoulder in a motocross training accident, then breaking his shin-bone after a vicious crash in Mugello, missing 4 races.

Nicknames[edit]

Since his early racing days Valentino Rossi has had numerous nicknames.

Since dominating the 500 cc category later known as MotoGP, "The Doctor" has become the nickname of choice for Rossi. Two theories prevail as to why Rossi uses "The Doctor." One is that Rossi adopted the nickname upon having earned a degree, which in Italy entitles one to use the title "Doctor." Another, as spoken by Graziano himself, "The Doctor because, I don't think there is a particular reason, but it's beautiful, and is important, The Doctor. And in Italy, The Doctor is a name you give to someone for respect, it's very important, The Doctor... important."[39] Rossi often jokes, however, that the name arrived because in Italy, Rossi is a common surname for Doctors.

He has always raced with the number No. 46 in his motorcycle grand prix career. The number his father had raced with in the first of his 3 grand prix career wins, in 1979, in Yugoslavia, on a 250c Morbidelli. Typically, a World Championship winner is awarded the No. 1 sticker for the next season. However, in a homage to Barry Sheene, who was the first rider of the modern era to keep the same number (#7), Rossi has stayed with the now-famous No. 46 throughout his career, though as the world champion he has worn the No. 1 on the shoulder of his racing leathers.

The text on his helmet refers to the name of his group of friends: "The Tribe of the Chihuahua," and the letters WLF on his leathers stand for "Viva La Figa," Italian for "Long Live Pussy." He has so far escaped any sanctions or ultimatums that he remove the letters because the "W" in "WLF" represents the two "V"s in "ViVa." Equally obvious is his success at escaping any disciplinary action from the FIM or Dorna for having the letters so brazenly on the front neck area of his leathers. He traditionally also incorporates his favorite color (fluorescent yellow) into his leather designs. This has also earned him the nickname 'Highlighter Pen' more recently. It is most commonly used by commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder.

Fellow motorcycle racer and former team mate Colin Edwards, as well as some TV journalists, have often referred to him as 'the GOAT' (Greatest of all Time).[40]

Other motorsport activities[edit]

Rossi competing on the shakedown stage for the 2008 Rally GB

Rossi tested the Ferrari Formula One car in 2006 on 31 January, 1 February, and 2 February at Valencia. The first test saw Rossi spin out on the damp track into the gravel trap, ending his day. On the second day, he posted the ninth fastest time of fifteen drivers, approximately one second behind Michael Schumacher, who himself was third fastest. Rossi lapped faster than seasoned drivers Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber and David Coulthard and Toyota F1's Jarno Trulli.[41] On the final day of testing, Rossi was just a little more than a half second behind Schumacher's best time.[42] Schumacher hailed Rossi as having immense talent and said he would be perfectly capable of moving to Formula One and being competitive immediately.

In May 2006, Rossi announced that he would be staying in MotoGP until he felt his work on the motorbike was "finished." Ferrari driver Schumacher said that he felt "saddened" by Rossi's decision but supported it. Rossi subsequently signed a new contract with Yamaha for the 2007 and 2008 seasons, then for 2009 and 2010.

Beyond his interest in F1, Rossi's strong passion is for rallying. In Rossi's youth one of his heroes was WRC Champion Colin McRae. Rally legend McRae taught Rossi the basics of driving a rally car.[43] The two competed against each other at the 2005 Monza Rally Show, with McRae driving a Skoda Fabia WRC and Rossi winning in a Subaru Impreza WRC.[44] His first official foray into rallying came in 2002 at WRC Rally Great Britain in a Peugeot 206 WRC, in which he crashed out on the second stage (first non-superspecial stage).

In October 2006 it was announced that Rossi would enter that year's Rally New Zealand, a WRC event which was to run from 17–19 November.[45] He competed in a Subaru Impreza WRC04 finishing 11th out of 39. In 2006 Rossi also won the Monza Rally Show driving a Ford Focus RS WRC 04. He beat the 2005 winner Rinaldo Capello by 24 seconds, winning five of the seven stages on his way. He also managed to outpace former WRC champion Didier Auriol by seven seconds in the head-to-head Master Show final. Rossi also announced at the 2006 Monza Rally Show, that he would be entering the 2007 Rally of Great Britain, however, he later opted out. At the 2007 Monza Rally, Rossi again took first place.

Rossi had been linked with a move to both Formula One and the World Rally Championship in 2007, having tested for Ferrari and competed in a number of rally events.[46]

But Rossi decided to remain in MotoGP; "I have a contract with Yamaha until 2008," said Rossi. "When that finishes then we will see. What I am sure about is that I will ride until I'm 31 or 32 at most. I will look for new stimuli in the next few seasons, but for now I am fully motivated".[47] Rossi signed a new two-year contract confirming he will be at Yamaha until 2010.[48] He originally planned to use the Impreza WRC2008 during his participation in the Rally GB in December 2008,[49] but decided to drive a Ford Focus RS WRC 07 instead.[50] He finished the rally in 12th place, 13 minutes and 20.4 seconds behind eventual winner Sébastien Loeb.[51]

In January 2010, Rossi has said that once he retires from motorcycle racing, he hopes to move into rallying. "There are not many changes in a man's body between 22 and 34 so I still have some time left. I would consider shifting to cars, probably rallying, after that before I finally decide to take it easy ... I know F1 would've been easier but by the time I finish MotoGP, I will be too old for F1."[52] Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari's Formula One Team principal, however, reasserted his wish to have a third Ferrari on the F1 grid driven by Rossi, whilst confirming that Rossi would test an older Ferrari F1 car on 21 and 22 January 2010.[53]

In March 2010, the Italian minister Franco Frattini government awarded Rossi the first Winning Italy Award for the image he portrays of his country on an international level.[54]

In 2013, Rossi was given a special test of Kyle Busch's NASCAR Nationwide Series stock car at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rossi achieved a top speed of 185 miles per hour, a speed which would have put him in the top fifteen of a Nationwide Series race.[55]

Team ownership[edit]

Rossi is the owner of the Sky Racing Team by VR46, which debuted in the Moto3 category of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 2014 with riders Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia.

Helmets[edit]

Valentino Rossi has gone through numerous helmet designs throughout his career, most featuring the Sun & Moon motif, signifying (according to Rossi) the two sides of his personality. His helmets are manufactured by AGV.[56] The artist of Rossi's current helmet graphics is Aldo Drudi.[57]

Pre-ride rituals[edit]

Rossi at the 2010 Qatar Grand Prix.

Rossi is very superstitious and is renowned for his pre-ride rituals. On a race day, he will always watch the beginning of the Moto3 race to see how long the starting lights remain lit before going out at the start of the race. Prior to riding (whether racing, qualifying, or practice), he will start his personal ritual by stopping about 2 metres from his bike, bending over and reaching for his boots. Then, when arriving at his bike, he will crouch down and hold the right-side foot-peg, with his head bowed. In an interview, Rossi said "It’s just a moment to focus and ‘talk’ to my bike, like moving from one place to the next."[58] He adjusts the fit of his leathers by standing straight up on the foot-pegs, whilst riding down the pit-lane before the start of race or practice. He also revealed in an interview with MotoGP.com that he always puts one boot on before the other, one glove on before the other, and he always gets on the bike the same way. He also gets off the bike in the same way, swinging his right leg over the front of the bike.

Personal life[edit]

After leaving the family home in Tavullia, he moved to Milan, before taking up residency in London, England during his period with Honda. During this time he acquired a villa in Ibiza which he still owns,[59] and following the tax case has now returned to his main residence to live close to his family in Italy.

Reputed earnings[edit]

According to Sports Illustrated, Rossi is one of the highest earning sports personalities in the world, having earned an estimated $34 million in 2007.[60] In 2009 Forbes ranked Rossi as number nine among the world's highest-paid athletes having earned an estimated $35 million in the past year.[61]

Tax avoidance case[edit]

In 2007, the Italian tax authorities declared Rossi was being investigated for suspected tax evasion. Having previously unsuccessfully investigated Rossi for tax evasion in 2002, the authorities announced they were investigating Rossi for undeclared revenues of 112 million euros ($160 million) between 2000 to 2004. The officials said, against the European Taxes Agreements among European countries, Rossi's London residency has enabled him to take advantage of favourable tax conditions, such as only declaring earnings made in Britain and avoiding taxes on his lucrative merchandising and sponsorship contracts, commenting that Rossi had: "residency in London but is not domiciled there." It noted that in 2002, Rossi's Italian tax form declared earnings of 500 euros, while sponsorship contracts were all reported to be made out to foreign companies, but with his affairs controlled mainly from Italy.[62] In February 2008, Rossi announced that he had reached a settlement with the Italian tax authorities: he paid 35 million euros to close the tax case.

Other hobbies[edit]

Rossi tries to keep his personal life out of the public eye as much as possible, though he makes no secret of his fondness for Italian football club Internazionale. After he won his ninth world title in 2009, Inter congratulated him via their website.[63]

Career statistics[edit]

By season[edit]

Season Class Bike Team Race Win Pod Pole FLap Pts Plcd WCh
1996 125cc Aprilia RS125 Scuderia AGV Aprilia 15 1 2 1 2 111 9th 0
1997 Aprilia RS125 Nastro Azzurro Aprilia 15 11 13 4 7 321 1st 1
1998 250cc Aprilia RS250 Nastro Azzurro Aprilia 14 5 9 0 3 201 2nd 0
1999 Aprilia RS250 Aprilia Grand Prix Racing 16 9 12 5 8 309 1st 1
2000 500cc Honda NSR500 Nastro Azzurro Honda 16 2 10 0 5 209 2nd 0
2001 Honda NSR500 Nastro Azzurro Honda 16 11 13 4 10 325 1st 1
2002 MotoGP Honda RC211V Repsol Honda 16 11 15 7 9 355 1st 1
2003 Honda RC211V Repsol Honda 16 9 16 9 12 357 1st 1
2004 Yamaha YZR-M1 Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 16 9 11 5 3 304 1st 1
2005 Yamaha YZR-M1 Gauloises Yamaha 17 11 16 5 6 367 1st 1
2006 Yamaha YZR-M1 Camel Yamaha 17 5 10 5 4 247 2nd 0
2007 Yamaha YZR-M1 Fiat Yamaha 18 4 8 4 3 241 3rd 0
2008 Yamaha YZR-M1 Fiat Yamaha 18 9 16 2 5 373 1st 1
2009 Yamaha YZR-M1 Fiat Yamaha 17 6 13 7 6 306 1st 1
2010 Yamaha YZR-M1 Fiat Yamaha 14 2 10 1 2 233 3rd 0
2011 Ducati Desmosedici GP11 Ducati Corse 17 0 1 0 1 139 7th 0
2012 Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Ducati Corse 18 0 2 0 1 163 6th 0
2013 Yamaha YZR-M1 Yamaha-YMR 18 1 6 0 1 237 4th 0
2014 Yamaha YZR-M1 Movistar Yamaha 11 0 7 0 0 173* 3rd* 0
Total 305 106 190 59 88 4971 9
  • * Season in progress.

By class[edit]

Class Seas 1st GP 1st Pod 1st Win Race Win Podiums Pole FLap Pts WChmp
125 cc 1996–1997 1996 Malaysia 1996 Austria 1996 Czech Rep. 30 12 15 5 9 432 1
250 cc 1998–1999 1998 Japan 1998 Spain 1998 Dutch 30 14 21 5 11 510 1
500 cc 2000–2001 2000 South Af. 2000 Spain 2000 British 32 13 23 4 15 534 1
MotoGP 2002 – present 2002 Japan 2002 Japan 2002 Japan 213 67 131 45 53 3495 6
Total 1996 – present 305 106 190 59 88 4971 9

Races by year[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Pos Pts
1996 125 cc Aprilia MAL
6
INA
11
JPN
11
SPA
4
ITA
4
FRA
Ret
NED
Ret
GER
5
GBR
Ret
AUT
3
CZE
1
IMO
5
CAT
Ret
BRA
Ret
AUS
14
9th 111
1997 125 cc Aprilia MAL
1
JPN
Ret
SPA
1
ITA
1
AUT
2
FRA
1
NED
1
IMO
1
GER
1
BRA
1
GBR
1
CZE
3
CAT
1
INA
1
AUS
6
1st 321
1998 250 cc Aprilia JPN
Ret
MAL
Ret
SPA
2
ITA
2
FRA
2
MAD
Ret
NED
1
GBR
Ret
GER
3
CZE
Ret
IMO
1
CAT
1
AUS
1
ARG
1
2nd 201
1999 250 cc Aprilia MAL
5
JPN
7
SPA
1
FRA
Ret
ITA
1
CAT
1
NED
2
GBR
1
GER
1
CZE
1
IMO
2
VAL
8
AUS
1
RSA
1
BRA
1
ARG
3
1st 309
2000 500 cc Honda RSA
Ret
MAL
Ret
JPN
11
SPA
3
FRA
3
ITA
12
CAT
3
NED
6
GBR
1
GER
2
CZE
2
POR
3
VAL
Ret
BRA
1
PAC
2
AUS
3
2nd 209
2001 500 cc Honda JPN
1
RSA
1
SPA
1
FRA
3
ITA
Ret
CAT
1
NED
2
GBR
1
GER
7
CZE
1
POR
1
VAL
11
PAC
1
AUS
1
MAL
1
BRA
1
1st 325
2002 MotoGP Honda JPN
1
RSA
2
SPA
1
FRA
1
ITA
1
CAT
1
NED
1
GBR
1
GER
1
CZE
Ret
POR
1
BRA
1
PAC
2
MAL
2
AUS
1
VAL
2
1st 355
2003 MotoGP Honda JPN
1
RSA
2
SPA
1
FRA
2
ITA
1
CAT
2
NED
3
GBR
3
GER
2
CZE
1
POR
1
BRA
1
PAC
2
MAL
1
AUS
1
VAL
1
1st 357
2004 MotoGP Yamaha RSA
1
SPA
4
FRA
4
ITA
1
CAT
1
NED
1
BRA
Ret
GER
4
GBR
1
CZE
2
POR
1
JPN
2
QAT
Ret
MAL
1
AUS
1
VAL
1
1st 304
2005 MotoGP Yamaha SPA
1
POR
2
CHN
1
FRA
1
ITA
1
CAT
1
NED
1
USA
3
GBR
1
GER
1
CZE
1
JPN
Ret
MAL
2
QAT
1
AUS
1
TUR
2
VAL
3
1st 367
2006 MotoGP Yamaha SPA
14
QAT
1
TUR
4
CHN
Ret
FRA
Ret
ITA
1
CAT
1
NED
8
GBR
2
GER
1
USA
Ret
CZE
2
MAL
1
AUS
3
JPN
2
POR
2
VAL
13
2nd 247
2007 MotoGP Yamaha QAT
2
SPA
1
TUR
10
CHN
2
FRA
6
ITA
1
CAT
2
GBR
4
NED
1
GER
Ret
USA
4
CZE
7
RSM
Ret
POR
1
JPN
13
AUS
3
MAL
5
VAL
Ret
3rd 241
2008 MotoGP Yamaha QAT
5
SPA
2
POR
3
CHN
1
FRA
1
ITA
1
CAT
2
GBR
2
NED
11
GER
2
USA
1
CZE
1
RSM
1
IND
1
JPN
1
AUS
2
MAL
1
VAL
3
1st 373
2009 MotoGP Yamaha QAT
2
JPN
2
SPA
1
FRA
16
ITA
3
CAT
1
NED
1
USA
2
GER
1
GBR
5
CZE
1
IND
Ret
RSM
1
POR
4
AUS
2
MAL
3
VAL
2
1st 306
2010 MotoGP Yamaha QAT
1
SPA
3
FRA
2
ITA
DNS
GBR NED CAT GER
4
USA
3
CZE
5
IND
4
RSM
3
ARA
6
JPN
3
MAL
1
AUS
3
POR
2
VAL
3
3rd 233
2011 MotoGP Ducati QAT
7
SPA
5
POR
5
FRA
3
CAT
5
GBR
6
NED
4
ITA
6
GER
9
USA
6
CZE
6
IND
10
RSM
7
ARA
10
JPN
Ret
AUS
Ret
MAL
C
VAL
Ret
7th 139
2012 MotoGP Ducati QAT
10
SPA
9
POR
7
FRA
2
CAT
7
GBR
9
NED
13
GER
6
ITA
5
USA
Ret
IND
7
CZE
7
RSM
2
ARA
8
JPN
7
MAL
5
AUS
7
VAL
10
6th 163
2013 MotoGP Yamaha QAT
2
AME
6
SPA
4
FRA
12
ITA
Ret
CAT
4
NED
1
GER
3
USA
3
IND
4
CZE
4
GBR
4
RSM
4
ARA
3
MAL
4
AUS
3
JPN
6
VAL
4
4th 237
2014 MotoGP Yamaha QAT
2
AME
8
ARG
4
SPA
2
FRA
2
ITA
3
CAT
2
NED
5
GER
4
IND
3
CZE
3
GBR
RSM
ARA
JPN
AUS
MAL
VAL
3rd* 173*
  • * Season in progress.

Records[edit]

As of the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi holds the following records:[64][65][66][67]

Record Number
Combined records (all classes)
Podium finishes 187
Pole positions 59
Points 5040
Consecutive race starts 230 (1996 Malaysian GP2010 French GP)
Consecutive years with a win 15 (19962010)
Championship titles with different engine displacement 5 (125cc, 250cc, 500cc, 800cc, 990cc)
Most wins at Mugello (Italian GP) 9 (1997, 1999, 20022008)
Consecutive wins at Mugello (Italian GP) 7 (20022008)
Wins with Aprilia 26
500cc/MotoGP records
Wins 80
Second places 43
Podium finishes 151
Podium finishes in a season[Note 1] 16 (2003, 2005, 2008)
Fastest laps in a season 12 (2003)
Consecutive podium finishes 23 (2002 Portuguese GP2004 South African GP)
Consecutive race starts 170 (2000 South African GP2010 French GP)
Championship titles with Yamaha 4 (20042005, 20082009)
Consecutive championship titles with different constructors[Note 2] 2 (20032004)
Consecutive wins with different constructors 2 (2003 Valencian GP2004 South African GP)
Wins with Yamaha 47
Wins in a season with Yamaha 11 (2005)
Consecutive wins with Yamaha 5 (2005 Chinese GP2005 Dutch TT, 2008 United States GP2008 Japanese GP)
Championship titles with different motorcycles 4 (500cc Honda, 990cc Honda, 990cc Yamaha, 800cc Yamaha)
Championship titles with different engine displacement 3 (500cc, 800cc, 990cc)
Championship titles with different engine configuration[Note 3] 2 (two-stroke engine, four-stroke engine)
125cc records
Wins in a season 11 (1997)

Note 1 Record shared with Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Marc Márquez.
Note 2 Record shared with Eddie Lawson.
Note 3 Record shared with Giacomo Agostini.

Complete WRC results[edit]

Year Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Points
2002 Peugeot 206 WRC MON SWE FRA ESP CYP ARG GRE KEN FIN GER ITA NZL AUS GBR
Ret
NC 0
2006 Subaru Impreza WRC04 MON SWE MEX ESP FRA ARG ITA GRE GER FIN JPN CYP TUR AUS NZL
11
GBR NC 0
2008 Ford Focus RS WRC 07 MON SWE MEX ARG JOR ITA GRE TUR FIN GER NZL ESP FRA JPN GBR
12
NC 0

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cool Rossi crowned world champion, BBC.
  2. ^ a b "Yamaha and Valentino to part company at end of 2010". Yamaha Motor Racing (Yamaha Motor Company). 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Valentino Rossi to leave Yamaha for Ducati in 2011". BBC Sport (BBC). 15 August 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
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  56. ^ [1]
  57. ^ "Drudi Performance". Drudi Performance. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
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  61. ^ Badenhausen, Kurt. "Forbes.com – The World's Highest-Paid Athletes". Forbes. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
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Bibliography[edit]

Rossi, Valentino; Enrico Borghi. Valentino Rossi – The Autobiography: What if I had never tried it. Gabriele Marcotti (translation). Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0-09-948696-1. 

External links[edit]


Preceded by
Australia Casey Stoner
MotoGP Motorcycle World Champion
2008–2009
Succeeded by
Spain Jorge Lorenzo
Preceded by
United States Kenny Roberts, Jr.
500 cc/MotoGP Motorcycle World Champion
2001 (500cc), 2002–2005 (MotoGP)
Succeeded by
United States Nicky Hayden
Preceded by
Italy Loris Capirossi
250 cc Motorcycle World Champion
1999
Succeeded by
France Olivier Jacque
Preceded by
Japan Haruchika Aoki
125 cc Motorcycle World Champion
1997
Succeeded by
Japan Kazuto Sakata
Preceded by
Italy Ivan Cremonini
125 cc Motorcycle Italian Champion
1995
Succeeded by
Italy Igor Antonelli
Preceded by
Japan Daijiro Kato
Japan Tohru Ukawa
Suzuka 8 Hours
Winner

2001
With: United States Colin Edwards
Succeeded by
Japan Daijiro Kato
United States Colin Edwards