Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi was born in Urbino, Italy on 16th February 1979. Rossi was riding bikes from the very start thanks to guidance and support from Graziano Rossi, his father and fellow former Grand Prix winner. Starting his racing career in go-karts, the young Rossi moved on first to mini-motos and showed the talent for two wheels that we all see today. In the years that followed, Rossi progressed through the junior road racing competitions, seizing the Italian Sport Production Championship by 1994 and taking the Italian 125cc championship a year later. Those results, alongside an exhilarating third place in the 125cc European Championship, saw him progress to the world stage.

Rossi made his World Championship debut at the Malaysian Grand Prix of 1996. He completed the entire season, finishing in 9th position overall and securing his first World Championship Grand Prix victory. The following year he went on to be the youngest ever rider to win the 125cc World Championship, taking eleven wins riding for Aprilia. After moving to 250cc he stormed to second place in his first year before going on to become World Champion in 1999.

The young Italian dominated the sport for the next six years, winning six titles in a row. Rossi moved to Yamaha in 2004 where he made history by becoming the first rider to ever win back-to-back class premier races for two separate manufacturers with an incredible win at the opening Grand Prix in South Africa. He would go on to win 9 of the next 16 races, including a nail biting penultimate win at the Grand Prix in Phillip Island and a hometown victory at the Valencia Grand Prix, taking Yamaha’s first World Championship title since the early 90s.

For a period, many thought that the Italian’s domination of MotoGP was over. His comeback to win title number eight in 2008 proved them wrong. Rossi took nine victories that year on the way to his highest ever tally of 373 points.

Rossi made the move to Ducati for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. These were barren years for the ‘Doctor’ and he struggled uncharacteristically, leaving the door open for his great rival Casey Stoner to lift his second title in 2011. Lorenzo made it two championships in three years by winning again in 2012, before Rossi made a sensational return to the factory Yamaha team in 2013 to once more partner Jorge Lorenzo.

In the 2014 season, he finished as runner up to a dominant Marquez. It looked like it could finally be Rossi’s time to lift the tenth title in 2015, but he missed out on the title by just five points to Lorenzo after a dramatic grand finale at Valencia. The following season Rossi would once again come close, missing out to a resurgent Marquez by 49 points.

2016 was another year with the ‘Doctor’ on fine form, netting himself two new MotoGP wins and a yet another silver medal in the World Championship. His stellar riding pushed Movistar Yamaha MotoGP once again into the team title as his never ending love for the sport continued to shine through. He continued to manage and to support the next generation of stars at his now famous riding ranch and the VR46 Racing team, all of which keeps him as popular now as he has ever been.

Now in his 23rd season in the World Championship, the ‘Doctor’ is as determined to win as he was when he first broke onto the scene. If anything, Rossi has grown hungrier with age. One accolade remains out of his grasp, that elusive tenth title. When Rossi lifted his ninth title back in 2009, few would have guessed that he would still be riding 9 years later, let alone that he would still be winning races and challenging for the title. 2017 was another exhilarating year for the ‘Doctor’, including a thrilling victory in ‘The Cathedral of Speed’ at the Dutch GP. Despite a leg injury late in the season which forced the veteran rider to miss one round and valuable training time, Rossi came back to secure confident results and take fifth place overall in the championship.

Like a fine wine, Rossi only seems to get better with age, with the Italian finishing as runner–up in three of the last four seasons. To keep himself motivated he now trains on a daily basis with the young Italian riders he is nurturing through the VR46 academy scheme, something that he says not only keeps him on his toes, but keeps his joy for racing alive.

Though Rossi is still chasing his tenth World Championship Title, he is already known as one of the greatest of all time. Only Carlo Ubbiali and Mike Hailwood equal the ‘Doctor’ in the number of Championship Titles won, and only Angel Nieto and Giacomo Agostini have more. Valentino remains, to this day, the most successful Yamaha racer to date. Rossi also holds the auspicious title of being the only rider to win premier class titles on five separate types of motorcycles: A Yamaha 1000cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 800cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, Yamaha 990cc 4-cylinder four-stroke, 990cc 5-cylinder four-stroke and a 500cc 4-cylinder two-stroke.