The 2013 season sees the return of an old friend as Valentino Rossi rejoins the Factory team for what will be his eighth season at Yamaha. Having been absent for two years with a different manufacturer, Rossi is back again and partnered with old team mate and current World Champion Jorge Lorenzo to create a formidable line up to challenge for the 2013 title.
Born in Urbino, Italy on 16th February 1979, Rossi was riding bikes from an early age thanks to the influence of his father Graziano, himself a former Grand Prix winner. Following an early start in go-karts, Rossi junior progressed to minimotos and quickly showed a talent for two-wheels, becoming regional champion in 1992. The next few years saw him quickly rise up through ranks of junior road racing, claiming the Italian Sport Production Championship in 1994 and the Italian 125cc Championship in 1995. The latter, twinned with an impressive 3rd place in the 125cc European Championship, was enough to secure him a ride in the World Championship the following year.
Rossi`s World Championship debut came at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 1996 and he finished his first international season in 9th place with one race win. The following year he became the youngest ever rider to win the 125cc World Championship, winning eleven races along the way with Aprilia. The pattern continued when he moved into the 250cc class, taking second place in his frst year before becoming World Champion in 1999, once again with Aprilia.
In 2000 he entered a new phase of his career when he joined forces with Honda in the 500cc class. He proved his worth once again by finishing second, before becoming the last ever 500cc World Champion in 2001. Rossi subsequently took the MotoGP World title in 2002 and 2003, before moving to Yamaha and winning it again in 2004 and 2005.
Rossi made history by moving to Yamaha in 2004 and winning the season-opening Grand Prix in South Africa, becoming the first rider in the history of the sport to win back-to-back premier class races for different manufacturers. He went on to win nine out of 16 races, finally clinching the World Championship title, Yamaha`s first for 12 years, with victory at the penultimate Grand Prix in Phillip Island. A final win at the Valencia Grand Prix also ensured that the Yamaha Factory Team won the team title.
He dominated the 2005 season, winning eleven races in total, taking five pole positions and only finishing off the podium once. In doing he became one of only five riders in the history of the sport to win the premier-class title on five occasions. He also helped Yamaha to win the Manufacturers’ and Team titles, ensuring Yamaha celebrated its 50th Anniversary with one of its best ever years in Grand Prix.
2006 saw him finish World Champion runner-up for only the second time in his premier-class career, having lost the title to Honda’s Nicky Hayden by just five points following a final-race showdown in Valencia. Despite this, Rossi still took five race wins and five pole positions in 2006, more than any other rider, and stood on the podium ten times.
2007 was undoubtedly one of the hardest seasons of his career. Rossi took four race wins in 2007 and several podiums, but his prodigious talents were limited by technical and tyre problems as well as plain bad luck. The Italian missed out on the runner-up spot in the championship by just one point after his final race was wrecked by injury and third place was his lowest championship finish since his rookie year in 1996.
After a torrid two seasons, Valentino Rossi returned to winning form in 2008 and recaptured the MotoGP title. The Italian won nine races – equal to his first season with Yamaha in 2004 – and stood on the podium at 16 out of 18 rounds. Notable highlights in an exceptional year included a seventh straight win at Mugello, a titanic duel with Casey Stoner in Laguna Seca, where Rossi had never previously won, and a historic victory at hurricane-struck Indianapolis. Rossi eventually took the title in the best possible way, with a victory at Yamaha’s home track in Japan, with three races to go. It was his eighth career title and his third with Yamaha.
2009 saw Valentino Rossi cross more milestones in his incredible career and take a ninth world championship title, his fourth with Yamaha. He showed that after fourteen years of racing in the World Championship he is still the best rider of his generation and worthy of his crown.
The Italian hero took six wins in a season which saw him and his rivals all make mistakes at times as they pushed each other to unexpectedly great heights. Rossi’s battle with his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo reached epic proportions with the Battle of Barcelona due to go down in history as one of the greatest ever, Rossi triumphing with an audacious last-corner move that saw him win by just thousandths of a second.
His incredible run of Mugello victories came to an end but he made up for it with a perfect performance at his home track of Misano when he also took one of his seven pole positions. His victory in Holland was the 100th win of his career, further proof, if any is needed, that he truly is one of the greats. He finally secured the title at Sepang with several races still to run.
2010 proved to be one of the toughest of his career with Yamaha. The then World Champion suffered a fall in practice at Mugello, breaking his leg and effectively ending any hopes of challenging his then team mate Lorenzo for the title. As the season drew to a close, he made a comeback to score several podiums and a race win in Malaysia, wrapping up 2010 in third position having missed a total of four races. To the disappointment of Yamaha race fans the world over it was at this point that the Italian chose to embark on a new adventure, leaving Yamaha for a two-year stint at Ducati. It was with great excitement that the announcement finally came mid-season in 2012 that he would return to again partner Lorenzo in Yamaha Factory Racing, back, where many believe, he belongs.
He turns 34 in February 2013 and is as enthusiastic as ever as he embarks on his eighth season with Yamaha. He continues to have the support of his long-standing Crew Chief, Jeremy Burgess, who moved from Honda to work with him at Yamaha Factory Racing in 2004 and has stayed with him ever since.
One of the most popular members of the paddock, ‘The Doctor` has a wide fan base all over the world. He is a keen supporter of Inter Milan football club and also an accomplished rally driver.