Definitions

rubbed salt into the wound

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi (born February 16, 1979 in Urbino) is an Italian professional motorcycle racer and multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with 8 Grand Prix World Championships to his name. According to Sports Illustrated, Valentino Rossi is one of the highest earning sports personalities in the world, having earned an estimated $34 million in 2007.

Following his father, Graziano Rossi, Rossi 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 250 cc category, again with Aprilia, and won the World Championship in 1999. He won the 500 cc 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, 2005 after leaving Honda to join Yamaha, before regaining the title in 2008.

The early years

Valentino Rossi was born in Tavullia, Urbino. Son of Graziano Rossi, a former motorcycle racer, he first began riding at a very young age.

Rossi's first racing love was go-karts. Fuelled by his mother, Stefania's, concern for her son's safety, Graziano purchased a go-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.

Graziano attempted to forge documents in an attempt to get Valentino's junior kart licence one year before he was legally allowed (he was nine at the time), but ultimately failed.

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

Although minimoto was for fun , 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 1. 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.

Rossi soon started to outgrow minimoto; a proper motorcycle was required. In 1993, Rossi acquired a Cagiva Mito 125 cc motorcycle, which was damaged in a first-corner crash no more than a hundred meters out from 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 Cagiva team manager Claudio Lusuardi and he managed to win the Italian title.

In Rossi's youth one of his heroes was the late former WRC Champion Colin McRae. Rally legend McRae taught Rossi the basics of driving a rally car and the two competed against each other at Monza in 2005, with McRae driving a Skoda Fabia WRC and Rossi a Subaru Impreza WRC, with Rossi winning.

The World Championship era

In 1994, Aprilia by way of Sandroni, used Rossi to improve its RS125R and in turn allowed Rossi 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 variable 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. Rossi treated it as a learning process and refined his skills enough to completely dominate the 125cc 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 formidable team of riders in Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Tetsuya Harada. But even with a fast bike and experienced championship-winning teammates, Rossi struggled in his first season in 250cc. Rossi considered 1998 the toughest year of his career, due to the persistent pressure to perform that he felt from Aprilia, the media and effectively everyone around him . The death of two of his friends in a car accident also took a toll. Again, he found himself learning the ways of his new bike in the first season, concluding the 1998 250cc season in second place, only three points behind the champion Capirossi. In 1999, however, he won the title, collecting 5 pole positions and 9 wins.

Rossi was rewarded in 2000 for his 250cc World Championship by being given a ride with Honda in what was then the ultimate class in World Championship motorcycle racing, 500cc. Jeremy Burgess, had shown him the NSR500 and was convinced that the pairing of it with Rossi would bring nothing but success. Retired 500cc World Champion Michael Doohan, who also had Jeremy Burgess as chief engineer, worked with Rossi as his personal mentor in the first year at Honda. It would also be the first time Rossi would be racing against fierce rival, Max Biaggi. Although the two had never raced against each other, an intense rivalry had developed. It would take nine races before Rossi would win on the Honda, but like his previous seasons in 125 and 250, it was a warm-up to a dominant second season. Rossi finished 2nd to American Kenny Roberts, Jr., with Max Biaggi finishing in 3rd place.

Rossi won his first 500cc World Championship in 2001 (winning 11 races), the final years for the 500s.

Also that year, Rossi teamed 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

Inaugural year for the MotoGP bikes was 2002, when riders experienced teething problems getting used to the new bikes (or dealing with the inferior 500 cc 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.

It was more of the same in 2003 for Rossi's rivals when claimed nine pole positions as well as nine GP wins to his third consecutive World Championship. The Australian GP at Phillip Island in 2003 is considered 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.

From Honda to Yamaha

There was much speculation during the second half of the 2003 season about Rossi's plans for the future. Most suspected that he would succeed in his bid to claim a third consecutive title and wondered where the amazingly talented Italian would go in the future. There were even rumors that he would attempt a career in rally cars after he had competed in a Peugeot 206 WRC rally car at the 2002 Rally of Great Britain (although he drove the car into a ditch). His contract with Honda was up at the end of the year and there were rumors that Rossi had become somewhat disillusioned with his ride at Honda. His tenure at Honda had effectively run its course; he had provided Honda with a 500 cc World Championship as well as consecutive MotoGP World Championships, he had helped perfect the RC211V into a formidable, almost unstoppable racing machine and considering Honda's reluctance to pay top dollar to secure his services in 2004, seemed to have overstayed his welcome.

Partnered with increased skepticism that the reason for his success was the dominance of the RC211V rather than Rossi's talent, it was inevitable that Honda and Rossi would part. Mid-season rumors 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 lackluster 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 (U.S) $12 million; a price no other manufacturer, even Honda, was willing to pay.

Rossi's move to Yamaha would be a baptism of fire. His fiercest critics claimed that on an inferior machine (the Yamaha YZR-M1), Rossi would not be able to recreate his World Championship wins of the previous years, especially with increased development of the RC211V and the likes of Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau on Hondas. The RC211V was a superior machine in almost every aspect although it was guaranteed that the gap would shrink with the defection of Rossi and Jeremy Burgess (chief mechanic for Rossi at Honda, whom Rossi had also convinced to join). The 2004 season would give Rossi the ability to show everyone, especially his critics what he was made of and provide him with an opportunity to prove that it was his talent rather than his bike that won him his championships.

With the traditional first race of the season at Suzuka off the list due to safety considerations, the 2004 season started at Welkom in South Africa. Rossi shone through to claim first blood in his new team colors and somewhat silenced some of his critics who thought the Yamaha would still play second fiddle to the Honda. Rossi would go on to claim 8 more GP wins during the season, battling Sete Gibernau ferociously until Rossi eventually closed the door on Sete's hopes in the penultimate race of the season at Phillip Island. Gibernau and Rossi had become bickering enemies during the course of the season; whereas in previous seasons they had been competitive but friendly rivals, various disputes arose during 2004 which led to their falling apart. Rossi would continue to rub salt into the wound for both Gibernau and Honda by winning the ultimate race of the season at Valencia. It was a painful blow to both Gibernau and Honda; Gibernau, so close to a World Championship, and Honda, starting to become aware of what they had let go. Valentino Rossi ended up with 304 points to Gibernau's 257, with Max Biaggi 3rd with 217 points.

In 2005 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, Rossi captured his 7th World Championship and 5th straight MotoGP Championship. He finished with a total of 367 points, an incredible 147 points ahead of 2nd place finisher Marco Melandri (220 pt), and Nicky Hayden finishing 3rd 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. Rossi finished 14th in Jerez, making an amazing comeback after Toni Elias pushed him at the very first corner, and had a pair of DNFs in Shanghai and Le Mans due to tyre and electronic problems respectively. Nicky Hayden held the points lead throughout most of the season, but Rossi was slowly working his way up the points ladder. It wasn't until Motegi when Rossi finally grabbed 2nd in the points race behind Hayden. In the Portuguese Grand Prix, the second to last 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. Rossi crashed early in Valencia, the last race, and Hayden went on to win the 2006 MotoGP Championship. Rossi finished the season in 2nd place.

Valentino 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 Race with Dani Pedrosa in second place and Colin Edwards in third giving both Yamaha riders podiums. Casey Stoner returned to winning ways in the third and fourth races of the season at the Turkish and Chinese grand prix on his extremely quick Ducati, which has enjoyed a top speed advantage over the rest of the field. Another reason for Stoner's consistency during the 2007 season in comparison with Rossi's mixed results is the advantage Ducati's tyre supplier, Bridgestone, appears to have over its rival, Michelin, who supply tyres for Rossi's factory Yamaha.

Rossi's lowly 10th position at Turkey was put down to a defective tyre and while he managed to bounce back to a second place on the podium at China, a poor tyre recommendation from Michelin was blamed for his 6th place finish in the wet French grand prix at Le Mans. Bridgestone riders took all 3 places on the podium at the French tyre giant's home race, and Rossi went on the record to say that Michelin must urgently address various weaknesses. Indeed it seemed they paid heed to their wake up call when Rossi cruised to victory at his home race, the Italian grand prix at Mugello, ahead of Dani Pedrosa, also Michelin-shod on his factory Honda. Championship leader Casey Stoner was beaten to the last podium place at Mugello by Brazilian veteran Alex Barros on a satellite Ducati with Bridgestone tyres.

Rossi's grip on the championship loosened slightly at Catalunya and Donington, finishing second and fourth respectively to winner Casey Stoner, however the Assen race was won by Rossi who charged through the field from 11th on the grid after a poor wet qualifying session to challenge and eventually beat Casey Stoner to the chequered flag by 1.5 seconds. At the half-way point of the 2007 season Rossi was the closest challenger to Casey Stoner's title aspirations, trailing by 21 world championship points. In the month of June, commonly called "Rossi's month" with races consisting of Mugello, Catalunya, Donnington Park and Assen, both Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner have scored 83 points each; 2 x 1st place, 1 x 2nd place and 1 x 4th place. This has been done in conditions favourable to the Italian manufacturer and in some cases left Rossi on the fourth row with a point to prove.

Sachsenring saw a disastrous performance from the Italian. After qualifying fourth on the grid, whilst Stoner took pole, Rossi had to use raceday to his advantage. Come Sunday, Rossi lined up with a fever of 102 degrees and dropped down to 8th by the end of the first lap. A pass on Randy De Puniet at the tight Omega corner saw Rossi lose the front, catch it then lose it completely and skid off into the gravel where his right hand clip on was damaged leaving him out of the race on lap 6. Luckily problems for Bridgestone in the blistering heat saw Stoner finish 5th stretching his championship lead by 11 points to 32 ahead of "The Doctor". A visit to Laguna Seca for the USGP, Rossi finished 4th place behind Stoner, Vermeulen, and Melandri respectively.

The end to the summer break in the 2007 season landed the MotoGP paddock at Brno, with various new changes to the Fiat Yamaha. Qualifying 6th for the race start on Sunday morning after struggling in free practice, Rossi spent his rear Michelin early on in the race chasing Capirossi to make it up to 5th. Eventually tyre issues got the best of the 7 times world champion and Rossi crossed the finish line in 7th, a whole 22 seconds behind 1st place man Casey Stoner. This now leaves Rossi 60 points behind the Championship leader with only 150 points up for grabs.

Misano saw Rossi starting from 2nd on the grid behind Casey Stoner. An engine failure five laps in resulted in Rossi falling 85 points behind Stoner as he finished first.

A start from 3rd on the grid in Estoril ended in a no holds barred race with Pedrosa as they both accelerated out of the last corner sideways for Rossi to take the race win and gain 9 points in the World Championship on Stoner who finished in third.

A wet race confused the front runners at Motegi as the track dried out quickly with everybody still on wet tyres. Rossi fought his way to first and whilst in front of Melandri, put in some impressive lap times. A late bike change got the Doctor back out in second behind Capirossi, but cold intermediate tyres ended in Rossi running off the track at the end of the back straight, another pit stop put Rossi back out in 13th with nothing else to do but watch Stoner take the World Championship.

For 2008 Rossi changed to Bridgestone tyres. The season started slowly with fifth place, but he took his first win in Shanghai, and also winning next two races. In mid-season Stoner's Ducati seemed too strong for him but Rossi took many second places, excluding Dutch round where he crashed on first lap and ended in 11th. He then won in Laguna Seca after fierce battle with Stoner who crashed but continued few laps before the end. Stoner crashed out from the lead in next two races and failed to score, while Rossi won both. After winning rain-shortened race in Indianapolis, once again completing the achievement that he has won in every current circuit in the calendar, he needed only third place in Motegi to clinch title. He won at Motegi too, his first win there with four-stroke bike, clinching his first title in 800cc bike, sixth in premier category and eighth in total.

Intense rivalries

Earlier in his career Max Biaggi was, for all intents and purposes, considered Rossi's arch-nemesis. At one time his website didn't even have Max's name; instead a glaring "XXX XXXXXX" was placed wherever his name should have appeared. Although they hadn't even raced against each other until 2000, the rivalry between the two had been growing since the mid-'90s. Rossi has always considered himself a better rider than Biaggi and the Roman has always considered himself far superior to the crown prince. The rivalry has started to die down over recent years due to Vale's consecutive World Championships and Biaggi's struggle to find support and a consistent rhythm with his races. Biaggi looked to improve on recent results with a ride with Honda's factory team in 2005. However, he was off the team and unemployed once the 2006 season rolled around.

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.

Rossi largely blames the media and their desire to publicise a rivalry between the pair for the eventual severity of the rivalry. Any quotes that the media got out of the pair were twisted and made to seem far more serious and insulting than they had been meant. Rossi also says that he is simply too honest. He had merely disagreed with the claims Biaggi made about why he wasn't winning races - Biaggi blamed the bike, the tyres, the engine, and Rossi felt that Biaggi should have accepted that sometimes he was the one at fault. They simply have very different outlooks on motorcycle racing, dealing with the media, and life in general. When the media get involved, it is basically a recipe for disaster.

During one incident at Suzuka in 2001, Rossi alleges that Biaggi elbowed him on the straightway at 220 km/h to prevent him from overtaking. This caused Rossi to lose a lot of time and drop several places, but he managed to make up the time and eventually overtook Biaggi to win the race. As he overtook Biaggi, he took his left hand from the handlebars of his bike and gave Biaggi the middle-finger. The press, according to Rossi, took Biaggi's side as usual, and excused Biaggi's elbow as necessary - Rossi's overtaking move had been dangerous and Biaggi had to intervene to prevent a collision. Rossi was vilified for the "vulgar gesture", and he felt that this was entirely unfair.

By the time the 2001 season had moved to Barcelona, the animosity from Suzuka had festered and was built up so much by the media that it threatened to blow out of control. After the race (which Rossi won), the pair got into a fist-fight before the podium presentation. The tension was evident in the press conference, although the media hadn't yet found out what had happened. The Dorna officials took Rossi and Biaggi aside immediately after the press conference and ordered them not to talk about the incident, and to play it down. Neither rider was sanctioned for the incident. Rossi maintains that afterwards he kept his word and didn't speak to the journalists, but Biaggi apparently broke his word and talked to the journalists.

At the next Grand Prix in Assen, Honda organized a press conference to put the events of Barcelona behind them. Rossi and Biaggi shook hands in front of the media, and that effectively ended the feud. After that, although they have had run-ins on track, the media frenzy surrounding them and any incidents off-track calmed down.

Rossi's main rival in the 2003/2004/2005 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 mechanic, Jeremy Burgess, insisted that they were doing nothing more than what many others had done before when faced with a dirty track and Rossi accused Gibernau of being behind the move to appeal for a sanction, something the Spaniard categorically denied. Since then the two have not spoken and Rossi seemed to resolve to use the incident to apply psychological pressure on Gibernau. He is said to have 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. This determination on the part of Rossi might go some way towards explaining his harsh inside passing manoeuver on Gibernau in the final corner of the first round race of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship at Jerez, which resulted in a Rossi win and Sete claiming second after they both touched and Gibernau was forced into the gravel. The Movistar Honda rider was visibly displeased, with clearly unhappy body language during post-race celebrations and a terse response in the post-race press conference. Rossi offered a handshake to Sete which he accepted. Rossi said in the post-race press conference that he understood that Sete was angry but that at the end of the day, "these are the races." Gibernau remained visibly angry, but sportingly said that he simply wanted to move on to the next race and not get caught up in the feud.

As a comparison, a very similar incident occurred at the Qatar GP of 2004 when Rossi collided with Alex Barros when Rossi attempted to outbrake the Brazilian into the first corner, after colliding with Barros he instantly raised his hand in apology.

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 true rival for Rossi. Coupled with a very fast 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. His and Rossi's rivalry was fuelled at Laguna Seca, after Casey Stoner made a comment that 'I have lost respect for one of the greatest riders in history', which Rossi just shrugged off, not making anything of it. Stoner apologised to Rossi at the next race.

Another fierce threat to Rossi came in the name of Dani Pedrosa, who finished second in the championship along with two wins.

Nicknames

Valentino Rossi has had numerous nicknames during his racing career. His first prominent nickname was "Rossifumi." Rossi explained the etymology of this nickname as a reference and tribute to fellow rider Norifumi Abe.

His next nickname appeared some time around his days racing in the 250 cc World Championship. The nickname "Valentinik" was a reference to the Italian Donald Duck superhero, "Paperinik."

Since his dominance in 500 cc and MotoGP, Rossi has used the nickname "The Doctor." This has been attributed to his "cold and clinical dismantling of his opponents" as well as his cool and calm composure in racing compared to his frenetic days in 125 cc and 250 cc where his performance was erratic and dangerous, resulting in numerous crashes. There are two theories as to why Rossi is entitled "The Doctor", one is 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". Although Valentino often jokes that the name arrived because in Italy, Rossi is a very common surname for Doctors. These days Rossi rarely crashes and in fact holds the record for the longest streak of consecutive podiums. From September 8, 2002 to April 18, 2004, he stood on the podium at the end of all 23 races including every race in 2003.

He has always raced with the number #46 in his motorcycle grand prix career. Rossi has stated that the original inspiration for this choice of number was the Japanese "wild card" racer Norifumi Abe whom he saw on television speeding past much more seasoned riders in a wet race. He later found out that it was 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 (and also runner-up and third place) is awarded the #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), Rossi has stayed with the now-famous #46 throughout his career. 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 "Hooray for the Pussy". He has so far escaped any sanctions or ultimatums that he take the letters off 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. Even though Rossi's won the MotoGP title 5 times he has never put the number 1 on his motorcycle representing the World Champion, instead staying with his famous "46". However, Rossi has worn the #1 reserved for the reigning World Champion on the shoulder of his racing leathers.

Fellow motorcycle racer and former team mate Colin Edwards refers to him as The GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

Plans for the future

Rumors abound speculating Rossi will switch from two wheels to four wheels some time in the next few years. Initially these rumours centered on Rossi switching to Formula 1 and his test drives of the Ferrari F1 car received heavy media coverage.

Most recently Rossi tested the Ferrari in 2006 on January 31, February 1, and February 2 at Valencia. The first day 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.

On May 24, 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. The two year contract was notable as after leaving Honda at the end of the 2003 season Rossi had refused to sign contracts of more than a year.

Greater than his interest in F1 is Rossi's strong passion for rallying. His first official foray into rallying came in 2002 at WRC Rally Great Britain, in which he crashed out on the second stage (first non-superspecial stage). He subsequently raced a factory Subaru Impreza car in the Rally of Monza in November 2005.

On October 11, 2006 it was announced that Rossi would enter that year's Rally New Zealand, a WRC event which was to run from November 17-19. He competed in a Subaru WRC car finishing 11th out of 39. On November 26 2006 Rossi also won the annual Monza Rally driving a Ford Focus WRC car. He beat the 2005 rally victor 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, 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 has been linked with a move to both Formula One and the World Rally Championship in the past 18 months, having tested for Ferrari and competed in a number of rally events.

But Rossi has decided to remain in Moto-GP; "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.

Equipment, symbols and superstitions

Helmets

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. The artist of Rossi's current helmet graphics is Aldo Drudi.

Superstitions

Rossi is a very superstitious person and his pre-ride rituals are well known. Prior to riding (whether racing, qualifying, or practice), he will start his personal ritual by stopping at about 2 metres from his bike, bend over and reach his boots (thus the 2004 TV spoiler "Are you ready boots?"). Then, when arriving at his bike, he will crouch down and hold the right-side foot-peg, with his head bowed. It is not known whether he is in silent prayer, if he is getting in the correct frame-of-mind needed to ride, or paying respect to a fellow racer, family member, or friend. He will also be adjusting the fit of his leathers by standing straight up on the foot-pegs, whilst riding the pit-lane before the start of race or practice; this may merely be a matter of comfort, which has become a much-commented upon habit. 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

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 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. In February 2008, Rossi announced that he has reached a settlement with the Italian tax authorities: He will pay 35 million Euros to close the tax case.

Beyond tax scandals, Rossi tries to keep his personal life out of the public eye as much as possible, although he makes no secret of his fondness for Italian Football Club Internazionale di Milano Inter Milan.

Career statistics

By Seasons

Seas Class Moto Race Win Pod Pole FLap Pts Plcd WCh
1996 125cc Aprilia RS125 15 1 2 1 2 111 9th 0
1997 125cc Aprilia RS125 15 11 13 4 7 321 1st 1
1998 250cc Aprilia RS250 14 5 9 0 3 201 2nd 0
1999 250cc Aprilia RS250 16 9 12 5 8 309 1st 1
2000 500cc Honda NSR500 16 2 10 0 5 209 2nd 0
2001 500cc Honda NSR500 16 11 13 4 10 325 1st 1
2002 MotoGP Honda RC211V 16 11 15 7 9 355 1st 1
2003 MotoGP Honda RC211V 16 9 16 9 12 357 1st 1
2004 MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 16 9 11 5 3 304 1st 1
2005 MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 17 11 16 5 6 367 1st 1
2006 MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 17 5 10 5 4 247 2nd 0
2007 MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 18 4 8 4 3 241 3rd 0
2008 MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 16 8 14 2 5 332 1st 1
Total 208 96 149 51 77 3679 8

By class

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 2002-2008 2002 Japan 2002 Japan 2002 Japan 116 57 90 37 42 2153 5
Total 1996-2008 208 96 149 51 77 3679 8

Races by year

(MotoGP results legend) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Yr Class Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Final Pos Pts
1996 125 cc Aprilia MAL
6
IND
11
JPN
11
SPA
4
ITA
4
FRA
Ret
DUT
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
DUT
1
SMR
1
GER
1
BRA
1
GBR
1
CZE
3
CAT
1
IND
1
AUS
6
1st 321
1998 250 cc Aprilia JPN
Ret
MAL
Ret
SPA
2
ITA
2
FRA
2
MAD
Ret
DUT
1
GBR
Ret
GER
3
CZE
Ret
SMR
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
DUT
2
GBR
1
GER
1
CZE
1
SMR
2
VAL
8
AUS
1
SAF
1
BRA
1
ARG
3
1st 309
2000 500 cc Honda SAF
Ret
MAL
Ret
JPN
11
SPA
3
FRA
3
ITA
12
CAT
3
DUT
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
SAF
1
SPA
1
FRA
3
ITA
Ret
CAT
1
DUT
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
SAF
2
SPA
1
FRA
1
ITA
1
CAT
1
DUT
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
SAF
2
SPA
1
FRA
2
ITA
1
CAT
2
DUT
3
GBR
3
GER
2
CZE
1
POR
1
BRA
1
PAC
2
MAL
1
AUS
1
VAL
1
1st 357
2004 MotoGP Yamaha SAF
1
SPA
4
FRA
4
ITA
1
CAT
1
DUT
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
SMR
1
IND
1
JPN
1
AUS
2
MAL
-
VAL
-
1st 332*

Records

All records are correct as of October 3, 2008

At the French MotoGP at Le Mans on 19 May, 2008, Rossi joined Ángel Nieto on 90 wins as second equal on the all-time winners list in all categories. Nieto was in the crowd, dressed to ride with a special shirt congratulating Rossi. Nieto mounted Rossi's bike, and Rossi as a passenger held a flag aloft with "90 + 90", as they took a victory lap.

500 cc/MotoGP records: Rossi is

  • Second in all time world championship wins with 6 world championships, behind Giacomo Agostini with 8 world championships.
  • Second in consecutive world championship wins with 5 consecutive world championships in 2001-2005 along with Michael Doohan with 5 consecutive world championships in 1994-1998, behind Giacomo Agostini with 7 consecutive world championships in 1966-1972.
  • First in all time race wins standings with 70 race wins. Giacomo Agostini is second with 68 race wins.
  • First in all time podium standings with 112 podiums in premier class.
  • First in most podiums in a season with 16 podiums in 2003 and 2005.
  • First in most fastest laps in a season with 12 fastest laps in 2003.
  • Second in all time pole positions standings with 41 pole positions, behind Michael Doohan with 58 pole positions.
  • Second in all time race fastest laps standings with 57 race fastest laps, behind Giacomo Agostini with 69 race fastest laps.
  • Second in most race wins in a season with 11 race wins in 2001, 2002 and 2005 along with Giacomo Agostini, behind Michael Doohan with 12 race wins in 1997.
  • Third in most pole positions in a season with 9 pole positions in 2003 along with Michael Doohan and Kevin Schwantz, behind Michael Doohan with 12 pole positions in 1997, Wayne Gardner and Freddie Spencer with 10 pole positions in 1987 and 1985 respectively.


250 cc records: Rossi is


125 cc records: Rossi is

  • First in most race wins in a season with 11 race wins in 1997.
  • Second in most podiums in a season with 13 podiums in 1997, behind Álvaro Bautista with 14 podiums in 2006.


Overall records:


Other records: Rossi is

  • the only rider to win World Championship titles in four different classes: 125 cc, 250 cc, 500 cc & MotoGP
  • the only rider to win consecutive races with different manufacturers. He won the final race of 2003 with Honda at Valencia and the first race of 2004 with Yamaha at Welkom (South Africa).
  • the only rider to win championships with the 3 different engines used in Motogp history, 500cc 2 stroke (2001), 800cc 4stroke (2008) and 990cc 4 stroke (2002/03/04/05)
  • the only rider to win seven consecutive races at his home Grand Prix at Mugello in 2002-2008.
  • the only rider to win three races after starting the race from 11th or lower on the grid (British GP 2001, German GP 2006 & Dutch TT 2007).
  • the only rider to win the premier-class title on four different types of motorcycle: A Honda 500cc four-cylinder two-stroke (2001), Honda 990cc five-cylinder four-stroke (2002, 2003), Yamaha 990cc four-cylinder four-stroke (2004, 2005) and a Yamaha 800cc four-cylinder four-stroke (2008).
  • the second rider to win consecutive world championships with different manufacturers (2001-2003 with Honda and 2004-2005 with Yamaha) along with Eddie Lawson (1988 with Yamaha and 1989 with Honda).
  • the second rider in history - after Giacomo Agostini - to regain the premier-class crown after two successive defeats.
  • Yamaha's most successful rider in the premier class with 37 wins.

References

External links

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