Rossi at the 2010 Qatar Grand Prix.
|Born|| (1979-02-16) 16 February 1979
|Current team||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP|
Valentino Rossi (//; Italian: [valenˈtiːno ˈrossi]; born 16 February 1979) is an Italian professional motorcycle road racer and multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is the only rider in the history of the World Championship to have won the World Championship in four different classes: 125cc (1), 250cc (1), 500cc (1) and MotoGP (6).
After graduating to the premier class in 2000, Rossi 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. All of those titles were won in a dominant manner, being decided before the final round on all occasions. He lost the 2006 title with a crash in the final round at Valencia, ceding the title to his former Honda teammate Nicky Hayden. In 2007 Rossi and Yamaha were of no match to a dominant Casey Stoner on a Ducati, and Rossi ultimately finished a then career-low third overall.
Rossi regained the title in 2008 following several tight duels with title defendant Stoner and retained it in 2009. After a 2010 marred by a broken leg and no title challenge, Rossi left Yamaha to join Ducati for the 2011 season. Rossi replaced Stoner at Ducati, who went on to win the 2011 title with Honda instead while Rossi endured a difficult spell with his compatriot marque. It was confirmed in 2012 that he would rejoin Yamaha for the 2013 and 2014 seasons after Rossi suffered two winless seasons while at Ducati.
Following his return to Yamaha he has finished second overall in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Rossi led the championship for the vast majority of the 2015 season before being overhauled by team colleague Jorge Lorenzo at the final round in Valencia, with Rossi losing out as a result of a grid penalty sustained for a controversial clash with Honda rider Marc Márquez in the previous Malaysian round. During Rossi's second stint at Yamaha, Márquez won multiple titles in succession with Rossi often having to settle for podium finishes and only occasional wins.
Rossi is currently contracted to race until the end of the 2020 season, when he will be 41 years old. He is also a team owner of junior class team Sky Racing Team by VR46 that competes in Moto2 and Moto3.
The early years
Rossi was born in Urbino, Marche 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. 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.
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. 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), Rossi rode a Cagiva Mito 125cc motorcycle for the team, which he damaged in a first-corner crash no more than a hundred metres from the pit lane. He finished ninth that race weekend.
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 and 250 cc World Championships
In 1994, Rossi raced in the Italian 125 CC Championship with a prototype called Sandroni, using a Rotax engine. The bike was built by Guido Mancini, a former rider and mechanic who had worked, in the past, with Loris Capirossi. A documentary about Mancini, called "Mancini, the Motorcycle Wizard" (Il Mago Mancini), was released in 2016 by director Jeffrey Zani and explains the birth of the motorcycle and the relationship between Rossi and the mechanic.
In 1995, Rossi switched to Aprilia and won the Italian 125 CC Championship. He was third in the European Championship.
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.
500 cc World Championship
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 Mick 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 Kenny Roberts, Jr.; Rossi recorded only two wins during the season, winning in Great Britain and Brazil.
Rossi won his first 500 cc World Championship in 2001, winning 11 races in the final year of that class and collected 325 points, 106 points ahead of Biaggi, who became Rossi's main rival during the season, and Rossi was the first and only satellite rider to clinch the title. Also during the season, Rossi teamed up with American rider Colin Edwards for the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race aboard a Honda VTR1000SPW, becoming the first Italian rider to win the race. The pair won the race despite Rossi's lack of experience racing superbikes. In 2002, 500cc two-strokes were still allowed, but saw the beginning of the 990 cc four-stroke MotoGP class, after which the 500 cc machines were essentially obsolete.
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 in wet conditions at Suzuka, beating several local riders, who were racing as wildcards. Rossi went on to win 8 of the first 9 races of the season, eventually claiming 11 victories in total. Rossi clinched his second title at Rio de Janeiro, with four races remaining in the season; he finished all but one race during the season, with a retirement at Brno.
It was more of the same in 2003 for Rossi's rivals when he claimed nine pole positions as well as nine race wins to claim his third consecutive World Championship, clinching the title in Malaysia. This year, Sete Gibernau became his strongest opponent, beating Rossi several times, although Rossi got the better of Gibernau in the Czech Republic, by just 0.042 seconds. The Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island 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. He won the final race at Valencia with a special livery, which would turn out to be his final win for Honda.
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 Rossi 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 offered 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.
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. His fourth-place finish at Jerez saw the end of a 23-race podium streak. He failed to finish in Brazil and Qatar but Rossi would go on to win eight more Grands Prix in the season, primarily battling Sete Gibernau, with Rossi clinching the championship at the penultimate race of the season at Phillip Island, beating Gibernau by just 0.097 seconds to do so. Rossi ended the season with 304 points to Gibernau's 257, with Max Biaggi third with 217 points.
In 2005, Rossi captured his 7th World Championship and fifth straight MotoGP Championship after winning 11 races including wins in 3 rain-affected races at Shanghai, Le Mans and Donington. His only non-podium result was a retirement at Motegi. Rossi finished with a total of 367 points, 147 points ahead of second-place finisher Marco Melandri, and Nicky Hayden finished third with 206 points.
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, including mechanical failures at Shanghai and Le Mans. Rossi did however, win several races, in Qatar, Italy, Catalunya, Germany and Malaysia. 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 championship, ahead of Rossi.
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. Rossi won the second race of the season in Spain, and would win three more races that year – at Assen, Estoril and Mugello – but retired from races at the Sachsenring and Misano. 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, by a single point. This was Rossi's lowest championship position since his first season in 1996 in 125s.
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 at Le Mans and Mugello. From that race, Rossi was on the podium of every remaining race – except 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, who crashed but continued and took the second place – and at a rain-shortened race in Indianapolis, meant that Rossi had won at every circuit on the calendar, at that time. His win at Motegi was his first MotoGP victory at the track, and became the first Yamaha rider to win at the Honda-owned circuit. The victory at Motegi won Rossi his first 800cc MotoGP title, his sixth in the premier category, and eighth overall.
The 2009 season saw Rossi win six races to win his ninth championship title, beating his teammate Jorge Lorenzo into second place by 45 points, clinching the title at Sepang in wet conditions. 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 also failed to win at Mugello, for the first time since 2001. The most dramatic victory of the season came at Barcelona, beating Lorenzo by 0.095 seconds. Rossi also won a close race in Germany, winning by 0.099 seconds.
On 8 June 2009, Valentino Rossi rode a Yamaha around the famous Snaefell Mountain Course in an exhibition lap at the 2009 Isle of Man TT, alongside Agostini, in what was called 'The Lap of the Gods'. This had been delayed by 48 hours due to bad weather. He also performed the garlanding ceremony for the Superbike podium, bestowing the podium of John McGuinness, Steve Plater and Guy Martin.
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 in Spain and France, Rossi was beaten by teammate 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. It was the first time that Rossi had missed a race in his Grand Prix career. 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. This was confirmed a week later by Rossi himself. 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. 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. On 12 July, Rossi took part in another test at Brno, after which Rossi stated he was happier and a lot more in form.
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 and only 41 days after the accident. He managed to end the race in fourth place after a battle with Casey Stoner for third before a third-place finish at Laguna Seca. He added another race victory to his name at Sepang, Malaysia on his way to collecting ten podiums throughout the season, including five podiums in a row in the final run in of the season, where he finished third in the overall standings.
On 15 August 2010, after the Brno race, Rossi confirmed he would ride for Ducati Corse, signing a two-year deal starting in 2011, joining former Honda racing teammate Nicky Hayden on the team. He tested the Desmosedici for the first time in Valencia on 9 November 2010, making his first appearance since 1999, on an Italian motorcycle. Rossi underwent surgery on his shoulder which he injured during the 2010 season, in order to be ready for preseason testing in Malaysia. After original progress during the first test, 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.
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. 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. 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 was killed instantly, and the race was cancelled. At the final race in Valencia, Rossi retired at the first corner after Álvaro Bautista fell from his bike and took down Rossi, teammate 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, and finished seventh place in the championship.
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. He scored his second podium of the season at Misano and ultimately finished sixth in the final championship standings, with 163 points.
On 10 August, it was confirmed that Rossi would leave the factory Ducati team at the end of the 2012 season, 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, resuming his partnership with Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi was reacquainted with the Yamaha, when he tested the bike over 13–14 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 over 5–7 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 teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
He kicked off the season with 2nd place at the season opener in Qatar, followed by 6th at Circuit of the Americas, and 4th at Jerez. At Le Mans, he crashed but was able to finish in 12th place, which was followed by a crash at his home race in Mugello after making contact with Álvaro Bautista. In Catalunya he finished 4th.
On 29 June 2013 Rossi won the Dutch TT at Assen, his first MotoGP win since Malaysia in 2010 – a 46 race winless streak – 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. Rossi battled consistently among the second group of riders, along with Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl and Álvaro Bautista.
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.
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 achieved 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. He finished the race in third place. At the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano, Rossi took his first win of the season – the first non-Honda win of 2014 – ahead of teammate Lorenzo. The victory pushed him past the 5000 career points total, the first and so far only rider to achieve this.
At the Aragon Grand Prix, Rossi qualified in sixth place and had been making progress up the order in the race, when he ran wide onto the grass – damp due to the wet conditions – and crashed heavily. He lost consciousness briefly after the crash (or as Rossi put it: "I had a little nap"), and was transferred to a hospital in Alcañiz for a precautionary CT scan. Rossi took his second victory of 2014, at Phillip Island, benefitting from an accident for Márquez, while he was leading the race. It was Rossi's sixth win at the circuit, after five successive wins from 2001 to 2005. Rossi took his first pole position since the 2010 French Grand Prix in Valencia, his 60th pole position in Grand Prix racing. He finished in second place behind Márquez in the race, and as a result, he finished the season with 295 points – his highest points tally since the 2009 season – which was enough to finish as championship runner-up, 67 points behind Márquez.
Rossi started the 2015 season – his 20th at World Championship level – by taking victory in the opening race in Qatar; it was his first win in a season-opening race since 2010. Rossi held off Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso to complete his 109th Grand Prix victory, while Dovizioso's teammate Andrea Iannone finished third, completing an all-Italian podium – the first since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. After achieving a third place behind Marc Márquez and Dovizioso in the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas, Rossi took a second victory of the season in Argentina, consolidating his championship lead, becoming the first rider to win a race using an extra-hard Bridgestone rear tyre. He recorded his eighth successive podium finish – and the 200th of his Grand Prix career – with a third place in Spain, and kept the run going with a second place in France, and a third on home soil at Mugello.
Rossi finished second to Lorenzo in Catalunya, to maintain the championship lead over his teammate by one point. Rossi took his first pole position of the season at Assen, his 61st pole position in Grand Prix racing, and achieved his third victory of the season; it was his first win the race from pole position since the 2009 San Marino Grand Prix — and his twelfth successive podium – after a race-long battle with Márquez; he also extended his championship lead to ten points over Lorenzo, who finished third. Rossi further extended his championship lead at Sachsenring with third, and continued his podium streak with third-place finishes at Indianapolis, and Brno. Lorenzo's win in Brno gave him the championship lead over Rossi, by virtue of more wins at that point. Rossi returned to the championship lead with his fourth victory of 2015 at Silverstone, after Márquez – who had been chasing him for the majority of the race – crashed out in wet conditions, while Lorenzo could only finish fourth. The podium streak of 16 races ended with a fifth-place finish at Misano, but Rossi extended his championship lead to 23 points after Lorenzo crashed out. Lorenzo won the Aragon Grand Prix with Rossi in third, to cut the gap to fourteen points with four races remaining. The pair's results were enough for the team to clinch their respective title, their first since 2010.
In Japan, Rossi extended his championship lead to eighteen with a second-place finish to Dani Pedrosa in drying conditions. Lorenzo had started on pole but faded to third with tyre issues. Lorenzo cut the lead to eleven in Australia, with a second-place finish to Rossi's fourth. Lorenzo further cut the lead to seven, after a second-place finish in Malaysia; Rossi finished third after a collision with Márquez, in which he accrued three penalty points – enough to enforce a start from the back of the grid for the final race in Valencia. Rossi accused Márquez of deliberately trying to harm his championship, something Márquez repeatedly denied. Rossi made it up to fourth in the race, but with Lorenzo winning the race, Lorenzo took the championship by five points.
The controversial rivalries between Rossi and Márquez appeared to come to an end at the 2016 Catalan Grand Prix, when Rossi and Márquez shook hands at the parc ferme. However, during the 2018 Argentine Grand Prix, controversies reared up again following some disputed maneuvers carried out by Marc Marquez before and during the race, where he tried a very risky overtake on Rossi that resulted in a crash for the latter.
Before the 2016 season even began, Valentino Rossi announces he will be continuing his career by keeping his contract with MotoGP until 2018. Yamaha releases that Rossi will be riding a 2016 YZR-M1 which also includes ECU Michelin tyres new to MotoGP and the racers. Expecting a difficult start in the season with the new tires, Rossi was able to adjust as he stated to the media at Sepang. Rossi began the 2016 season with fourth place in Qatar, albeit just two seconds from victory. In the next race in Argentina, Rossi returned to the podium with second place behind Marc Márquez after a collision between Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso on the last lap for which Iannone was penalised. The race was split into two parts similar to the 2013 Australian Grand Prix after concerns over Michelin rear tyres forced riders into making a pitstop to change bikes, Rossi had fought with Marquez for the lead in the first half of the race but fell back to fourth on his second bike before the last lap incident between the Ducati's. At Austin, Rossi suffered his first DNF since the 2014 Aragon Grand Prix, bringing an end to a run of 24 consecutive top five finishes after crashing at the start of the third lap. At Jerez, Rossi led the race start-to-finish with the exception of one corner to Jorge Lorenzo after gaining his 52nd pole position, the race marked the first time in his MotoGP career that Rossi led every lap of a race from pole position. At Le Mans, Rossi started a lowly seventh on the grid but recovered in the race to finish second with the fastest lap of the race. Rossi suffered an engine failure in his rome race at Mugello when closely following Lorenzo for the lead after starting from pole position. It was Rossi's first technical failure since the 2007 San Marino Grand Prix. Rossi bounced back at the Catalunya by winning from seventh on the first lap after a late race battle with Márquez. Rossi dedicated the victory to the family of former Moto2 rider Luis Salom, who had been killed following a crash in Friday practice. The first race held on Sunday at Assen saw disappointment for Rossi as wet conditions saw him fall from a comfortable lead in a restarted race following a red flag in torrential conditions. Assuming the lead in the second race, Rossi set the fastest lap but continued to push before crashing due to what he called a "stupid mistake". More rain at the Sachsenring saw Rossi in contention for victory again, however a delayed decision to change bikes in the drying conditions; as he did since the 2015 San Marino Grand Prix combined with using intermediate tires instead of slicks like Marquez, saw him come home 8th.
After the summer break, MotoGP's return to Austria for the first time since 1997, saw Ducati dominate for a 1-2 finish, Rossi coming a close 4th behind Jorge Lorenzo. Another wet race in Brno saw Rossi go against the majority of the field in choosing the harder rear wet tyre. Initially it seemed an error as he fell from 6th to 12th but he recovered throughout the race to finish 2nd to Cal Crutchlow. Silverstone saw Rossi line up second on the grid behind pole-sitter Crutchlow, and following an intense battle with Marquez, eventually finishing third behind Crutchlow and first-time race winner Maverick Viñales. A week later Rossi finished second at his home race of Misano. After leading for the majority of the race he was overhauled by Dani Pedrosa in the closing laps. Rossi again led for a period in Aragon before eventually finishing 3rd.
The flyaway races began badly for Rossi after crashing out of second place in Motegi having started from pole. Victory for Marquez saw him crowned champion. Rossi started 15th in Phillip Island after a rain affected qualifying but recovered to finish second in the race. Rossi secured second place in wet conditions at Sepang behind Andrea Dovizioso having again led for periods, the result securing second place in the championship for the third year in a row. The season concluded as 2015 did, with 4th place in Valencia, after a long-battle with Iannone.
Rossi suffered a difficult winter testing period for the 2017 season, often lagging behind new teammate Viñales after suffering with a new softer construction Michelin front tyre. For the first race in Qatar however he appeared to make a breakthrough, moving from 10th on the grid to finish 3rd. Rossi continued his improvement by finishing second in Argentina and the US to take the lead of the Championship after three races. The European season began disappointingly with 10th at Jerez, this was followed by a crash on the last lap at Le Mans while battling teammate Vinales for the win, Rossi also lost the championship lead after the race. Following the French race Rossi suffered a motocross training crash which initially put his participation at Mugello under threat, ultimately he passed a late fitness test and finished the race in 4th. A week later at Barcelona Yamaha struggled as they did in Jerez in the hot conditions as Rossi came home 8th. Tests of a new chassis after the Catalan race were positive and saw Rossi take his first victory of the season at Assen after a late race battle with Danilo Petrucci with slick tyres on a damp track, the older Italian prevailing by just 0.063 seconds. The result also made Rossi the oldest race winner in the MotoGP era, surpassing Troy Bayliss.
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-1990s, and reached its peak in Barcelona in 2001, at the end of the 500cc race, when the two riders came to blows (involving members of their entourage and circuit employees) in the moments before the podium ceremony. Previously, in 2001, during the grand-prix of Japan, one of the most famous episodes in their rivalry took place, when first Biaggi seemed to have tried to push Rossi into the dirt at high speed, and a few laps later Rossi returned to overtake Biaggi showing, on live television, his middle finger. The rivalry died down after 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'd 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.
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. 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."
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.
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 Catalonia, after passing him in the final corner to take victory, in that part of the track where any overtaking was considered impossible. 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 four races. The most dramatic race of the season came at Motegi, beating Lorenzo for third place.
In recent seasons Rossi has featured in an at times heated rivalry with Spanish rider Marc Márquez. Márquez moved up to the MotoGP category in 2013, and initially the two had a good relationship, with Márquez stating that Rossi had been his childhood idol. Their respect for each other took a turn during the 2015 season, starting with a late race collision whilst battling for the lead in Argentina. Both riders shrugged it off as a racing incident. A similar incident occurred at Assen several months later; Márquez lunged up the inside of Rossi at the final chicane, Rossi picked the bike up, rode through the gravel, rejoined the track and won the race. Post race Márquez seemed fairly unbothered by the incident, although his team did appeal the result.
Their relationship broke down completely after the race in Malaysia. Having had a poor season and being out of championship contention, Marquez won at Phillip Island in Australia whilst points leader Rossi was only fourth. A week later during the press conference in Malaysia, Rossi accused Marc of deliberately battling aggressively with him in Australia to cost him time and give an advantage to Rossi's teammate and championship rival Jorge Lorenzo. Tempers reached boiling point in the race, where Márquez ran wide early on allowing Lorenzo through for second, and then set about having a heated battle with Rossi which lasted for several laps. Coming into turn 14, Rossi ran Marquez to the outside of the corner and they collided at the edge of the track, knocking Márquez out of the race whilst Rossi carried on to finish third. Post race, Rossi was penalised by having to start from the back of the grid for the championship decider in Valencia. In that race, Rossi rode from the back to fourth, but Lorenzo took victory with Márquez second to claim the title by 5 points. Márquez was accused by fans to have deliberately defended Lorenzo for the whole race against his own teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Their relationship remained frosty for the beginning of 2016, but the feud came to an end when they shook hands after battling each other in Barcelona. However tempers would again flare two years later, once again in Argentina. Márquez was given a ride-through penalty after he stalled on the grid and retook his original starting position. Whilst riding back through the field in the late stages, he caught Rossi who was running in fifth place. He attempted to overtake into the final corner, but hit a damp patch and collided with Rossi, pushing him off the track and causing him to fall. Marquez crossed the line in fifth but was penalised a further 30 seconds for the incident. After the race, Rossi accused Marquez of "ruining our sport" with his aggressive riding, whilst Márquez and several former riders felt that Rossi had "overdramatised" the incident.
Since his early racing days Valentino Rossi has had numerous nicknames. In the beginning he was known as "Rossifumi", inspired by Norifumi Abe, who made a spectacular debut in the 500cc class in Japan.
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." 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 Britain's 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 Sports 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.
Other motorsport activities
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. On the final day of testing, Rossi was just a little more than a half second behind Schumacher's best time. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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". Rossi signed a new two-year contract confirming he will be at Yamaha until 2010. He originally planned to use the Impreza WRC2008 during his participation in the Rally GB in December 2008, but decided to drive a Ford Focus RS WRC 07 instead. He finished the rally in 12th place, 13 minutes and 20.4 seconds behind eventual winner Sébastien Loeb.
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." 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.
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.
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. In 2015, Andrea Migno replaced Bagnaia. The team also races in Moto2.
Helmets and protective gear
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. Aldo Drudi was associated with Rossi's helmet graphics in 2010. Nearly every year, Rossi works with Aldo Drudi to design a unique helmet to use while racing at the Italian Grand Prix.
Since commencing his Grand Prix career, Rossi has worn leathers from Dainese. In 1996 and 1997, Alpinestars was a sponsor on his bike, but did not supply Rossi with leathers. Alpinestars just supplied racing boots for Rossi. After Rossi joined the Yamaha Factory Team, the team wore shirts from Alpinestars, while Rossi maintained his association with Dainese. In 2011 and 2012, Rossi was a member of the Ducati factory team, where the team wore shirts from Puma, while Rossi still maintained his association with Dainese. In 2016, Rossi has a new jacket from Dainese. His jacket has a different graphic compared with Alpinestars Movistar Yamaha jacket.
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." 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 particular boot on before the other, as well as one particular glove on before the other, and that 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.
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, and following the tax case has now returned to his main residence to live close to his family in Italy. Rossi is a practising Catholic.
In 2002 he received threats from an Italian-Spanish anarchist movement, which in those days sent parcel bombs to people it considered targets in either of the two countries. The anarchists considered Rossi "guilty" because at the time he rode for Honda's MotoGP factory team which have had sponsorship from the oil company Repsol since 1994, (For which he filmed a commercial in Spain.) with their logo displayed on both the motorcycle and on his race suits.
On 31 May 2005 he received an honorary degree in Communications and Advertising for Organizations. In March 2010, the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini delivered to Valentino Rossi the first Winning Italy Award for his contribution to the promotion of Italy's image in the world.
According to Sports Illustrated, Rossi is one of the highest earning sports personalities in the world, having earned an estimated $34 million in 2007. 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.
Tax avoidance case
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 and 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 his "centre of interests" wasn't there, as shown by a thorough investigation. 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. 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. He also plea-bargained a suspended sentence of six months' imprisonment for non-declaration of income.
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 world titles in 2008 and 2009, Inter congratulated him via their website. At the 2015 Argentine Grand Prix, Rossi wore a replica Diego Maradona football shirt on the podium in tribute to Maradona after Rossi won the race. Maradona congratulated him via his Facebook.
|1996||125cc||Aprilia RS125||Scuderia AGV Aprilia||46||15||1||2||1||2||111||9th||–|
|1997||125cc||Aprilia RS125||Nastro Azzurro Aprilia||46||15||11||13||4||7||321||1st||1|
|1998||250cc||Aprilia RS250||Nastro Azzurro Aprilia||46||14||5||9||0||3||201||2nd||–|
|1999||250cc||Aprilia RS250||Nastro Azzurro Aprilia||46||16||9||12||5||8||309||1st||1|
|2000||500cc||Honda NSR500||Nastro Azzurro Honda||46||16||2||10||0||5||209||2nd||–|
|2001||500cc||Honda NSR500||Nastro Azzurro Honda||46||16||11||13||4||10||325||1st||1|
|2002||MotoGP||Honda RC211V||Repsol Honda Team||46||16||11||15||7||9||355||1st||1|
|2003||MotoGP||Honda RC211V||Repsol Honda Team||46||16||9||16||9||12||357||1st||1|
|2004||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha||46||16||9||11||5||3||304||1st||1|
|2005||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Gauloises Yamaha Team[N 1]||46||17||11||16||5||6||367||1st||1|
|2006||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Camel Yamaha Team||46||17||5||10||5||4||247||2nd||–|
|2007||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Fiat Yamaha Team||46||18||4||8||4||3||241||3rd||–|
|2008||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Fiat Yamaha Team||46||18||9||16||2||5||373||1st||1|
|2009||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Fiat Yamaha Team||46||17||6||13||7||6||306||1st||1|
|2010||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Fiat Yamaha Team||46||14||2||10||1||2||233||3rd||–|
|2011||MotoGP||Ducati Desmosedici GP11||Ducati Team||46||17||0||1||0||1||139||7th||–|
|2012||MotoGP||Ducati Desmosedici GP12||Ducati Team||46||18||0||2||0||1||163||6th||–|
|2013||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Yamaha Factory Racing||46||18||1||6||0||1||237||4th||–|
|2014||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||46||18||2||13||1||1||295||2nd||–|
|2015||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||46||18||4||15||1||4||325||2nd||–|
|2016||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||46||18||2||10||3||2||249||2nd||–|
|2017||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||46||17||1||6||0||0||208||5th||–|
|2018||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||46||18||0||5||1||0||198||3rd||–|
|Class||Seasons||1st GP||1st Podium||1st Win||Races||Wins||Podiums||Poles||FLaps||Pts||WChmps|
|125 cc||1996–1997||1996 Malaysia||1996 Austria||1996 Czech Republic||30||12||15||5||9||432||1|
|250 cc||1998–1999||1998 Japan||1998 Spain||1998 Netherlands||30||14||21||5||11||510||1|
|500 cc||2000–2001||2000 South Africa||2000 Spain||2000 Great Britain||32||13||23||4||15||534||1|
|MotoGP||2002–present||2002 Japan||2002 Japan||2002 Japan||290||76||173||51||60||4594||6|
Races by year
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Suzuka 8 Hours results
|2000||Honda||Colin Edwards||Honda VTR1000SPW||DNQ|
|2001||Honda||Colin Edwards||Honda VTR1000SPW||1st|
Complete WRC results
|2002||Peugeot 206 WRC||MON||SWE||FRA||ESP||CYP||ARG||GRE||KEN||FIN||GER||ITA||NZL||AUS||GBR
|2006||Subaru Impreza WRC04||MON||SWE||MEX||ESP||FRA||ARG||ITA||GRE||GER||FIN||JPN||CYP||TUR||AUS||NZL
|2008||Ford Focus RS WRC 07||MON||SWE||MEX||ARG||JOR||ITA||GRE||TUR||FIN||GER||NZL||ESP||FRA||JPN||GBR
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