Rossi at the 2010 Qatar Grand Prix.
|Born||16 February 1979|
|Current team||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP|
After graduating to the premier class in 2000, Rossi won the 500cc World Championship and 8 Hours of Suzuka 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 surpassed by team colleague Jorge Lorenzo in the final round at 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 yearsEdit
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.
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.
The 1996 championship season marks the debut of Valentino Rossi. He had some success in his first year, scoring consistent points and sometimes finishing just off the podium from his very first race at Malaysia to Italy, but retired in both the French and Dutch rounds. He scored more points by finishing fifth at the German but once again retired at the British round.
At the 1996 Austrian Grand Prix, Valentino would score his first ever podium in the form of a third place after battling with Jorge Martínez. At the next race, which was the 1996 Czech Republic Grand Prix, he scored his first ever pole position on Saturday and his first ever race victory in the 125cc class on an AGV Aprilia RS125R on Sunday, after fighting with Jorge Martínez.
After his victory, Rossi would continue to score points in Imola, retire twice at the Catalan and Rio rounds, and score even more points at the last round in Australia. He would finish his first season in ninth place with 111 points.
In his second year, the 1997 championship season, he moved from the AGV team to the official Nastro Azzurro Aprilia Team and would go on to dominate the season. He would immediately start with a pole and race win at the 1997 Malaysian Grand Prix, but retire at the next race in Japan. He would bounce back in the next two races, winning the Spanish and Italian rounds. He finished second in Austria, just 0.004 seconds behind race winner Noboru Ueda, but would score a flurry of race victories from France to Britain, including three pole positions at the Dutch, Imola and German rounds.
He scored a third place at the Czech round, and would go on to pick up two more wins at the Catalan and Indonesian rounds. He finished in sixth place in Australia. He won the 1997 125cc title, winning 11 of the 15 races with 321 points. Throughout the 1997 season, he would on few occasions dress up as Robin Hood and carry a blow-up doll. This fun-loving character gained him many fans throughout this and the future seasons.
After winning the title in 1997, Rossi moved up to the 250cc class the following year. In 1998, the Aprilia RS250 was reaching its pinnacle and had a team of riders in Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Tetsuya Harada. Rossi's year started off poor, retiring in the first two rounds: Japan and Malaysia. He would bounce back by scoring three consecutive second places in Spain, Italy and France, but would once again retire at the Madrid round.
He scored his first victory at the 1998 Dutch TT, winning with more than 19 seconds from second place Jürgen Fuchs. He would retire once again at the British round, but bounced back by scoring a podium place in Germany, finishing third.
He would once more retire in the Czech Republic, crashing out of the race, but a flurry of victories from Imola to Argentina saw him end in second place in his rookie year in the class with 201 points, just 23 points clear of 1998 250cc champion Loris Capirossi.
In his second year in the 250cc class, 1999, Rossi became the sole driver of the official Aprilia Grand Prix Racing team, and would once again dominate the season. He would start the season off with a pole in Malaysia on Saturday, but finished fifth on race day. He would pick up further points in Japan and went on to win his first race of the season at the third round in Spain.
Rossi scored his second pole position of the season in France, but would retire from the race on Sunday. He bounced back with back-to-back wins in Italy and Catalunya, and would finish in second place at the Dutch round, narrowly losing out on the race victory with Loris Capirossi. He won three more races from Britain to the Czech Republic, including a pole in Germany.
Rossi finished second once again in Imola and off the podium in eighth place at the Valencian Community round. He finished the season strong, with three more race wins in Australia where he fought hard with Olivier Jacque, South Africa and Rio de Janeiro, and a third place in Argentina after scoring pole position on Saturday.
He won the title in Rio de Janeiro with one round left and finished the season in first place with 309 points, granting him his first 250cc world championship title and his second title overall.
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, the 500cc. Five-time retired 500cc 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 was also the first time Rossi raced against Max Biaggi.
Rossi started his first year in the 500cc class off with two retirements in the first two rounds: he crashed out of the South African and Malaysian rounds. He scored points at the third round in Japan, and would pick up two third place finishes in Spain and France. Rossi picked up additional points in Italy and would pick up another third place at the Catalan round. He picked up points by finishing in sixth place at the 2000 Dutch TT.
It took nine races before Rossi won on the Honda, but his first 500cc victory came after a fierce battle with the Suzuki of Kenny Roberts Jr. and the Aprilia of Jeremy McWilliams. On a track which was affected by ever changing weather conditions and despite only qualifying in seventh position on Saturday, Rossi chose the right tyres and stormed through the field to battle with Roberts Jr. and McWilliams to win his first race in the 500cc class. After his victory in Donington Park, Rossi would go on to score consecutive podium places in three races: two second place finishes in Germany and the Czech Republic and one third place finish in Portugal. He would retire from the Valencian Community round after crashing out of the race.
Rossi won the Rio round. However, it was Kenny Roberts Jr. who clinched the 2000 title after finishing in sixth position, which gave him an unassailable lead in the championship. After his second win, he would go on to finish second at the Pacific round and third at the Australian round. He finished second in his rookie season in the 500cc class with 209 points.
Rossi dominated his second season in the 500cc class, scoring 11 wins and only finishing off the podium three times. He started the year off with a victory in Japan after battling with Max Biaggi and two poles and race wins at the South African and Spanish rounds. He would finish the French race in third place but crashed out of the Italian round whilst being in the lead of the wet race, after he scored another pole on Saturday.
Rossi bounced back by scoring pole position and winning the following race in Catalunya despite making a poor start which dropped him to 15th place at the end of the first lap. He would score a second place after narrowly losing out on the race victory with Biaggi at the Dutch round, and once again won another race: this time the British GP.
Rossi finished a disappointing seventh in Germany, but would score back-to-back wins in the Czech Republic and Portugal. He would score another disappointing result at the Valencian Community round when he finished in 11th place, but would score a string of race wins from the Pacific to the Rio rounds.
Rossi won his first 500cc title with 325 points and third title overall, 106 points ahead of Biaggi, who became Rossi's main rival during the season. Rossi also was the first and only satellite rider to clinch the title. During the season, Rossi also 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 990cc four-stroke MotoGP class, after which the 500cc 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 started the year off strong and won the first race in wet conditions in Japan, beating several local riders who were racing as wildcards. He also took the pole position in the first five races.
Rossi finished second in South Africa, where his teammate Tohru Ukawa took his first and only victory in the MotoGP class. He then scored victories from the Spanish to the German rounds, including two pole positions at the Dutch and British GPs. He registered his only retirement of the season at the Czech Republic round, before scoring back-to-back wins in Portugal and Rio, two second place finishes at the Pacific and Malaysia, another victory in Australia and another second place at the last race at the Valencian Community.
Rossi went on to win eight of the first nine races of the season, eventually claiming 11 victories in total. Rossi clinched his second title at Rio de Janeiro, and fourth title overall with four races left to go.
It was more of the same for Rossi's rivals in 2003. Rossi scored consistent podiums, took pole and won the first round of the season in Japan, but the race was marred by the death of Japanese rider Daijiro Kato who crashed at the 130R and hit the barrier at high speed in the ensuing Casio Triangle. Rossi finished second at the South African round before winning again in Spain, despite falling back to ninth place on the opening lap.
Rossi scored three pole positions in the next three races and finished second in France after battling Sete Gibernau, who overtook him on the last lap, first in Italy and second once again in Catalunya. He scored two third-place finishes at the Dutch and British rounds - the latter the result of a 10-second penalty for overtaking under yellow flags, gifting victory to Maxi Biaggi in the process - and yet another second place in Germany, once again battling Gibernau who denied him victory with just 0.060 seconds separating both when they crossed the finish line.
After Germany, Rossi won three more races and scored two more poles: a pole position converted into a victory came at the Czech Republic, once again battling championship rival Givernau, whom Rossi overtook on the final lap to take victory by just 0.042 seconds, a regular victory came in Portugal and another pole-victory came at the Rio de Janeiro round. He finished second at the Pacific GP after a mistake made him run off into the gravel and relegated him to ninth, which made it impossible for him to catch race winner Biaggi in the closing laps.
Rossi ended his season in style by scoring three consecutive poles and race wins at the Malaysian, Australian and Valencian Community rounds. The Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island is considered by many observers to be one of Rossi's greatest career moments due to the unique circumstances. After being given a ten-second penalty for overtaking Marco Melandri during a yellow flag due to a crash by Ducati rider Troy Bayliss, front runner Rossi pulled away from the rest of the field after being informed of the penalty, eventually finishing more than 15 seconds ahead, overcoming the penalty and winning the race.
Rossi won the 2003 title in Malaysia, his first in the MotoGP class, third in the top class and fifth title overall, with two races remaining. He won the final race at the Valencian Community round with a special livery, 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 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 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.
Rossi made the switch from Honda to Yamaha and signed a two-year contract with the team. Many doubted his move and would expect Biaggi, who joined the Honda Pons team a year earlier, to be a genuine contender for the title this year.
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 took the pole on Saturday and won the South African race after a hard-fought battle with Max Biaggi, becoming the only rider to win consecutive races with different manufacturers, having won the final race of the previous season on his Honda bike. Rossi took another pole in Spain but his fourth-place finish on Sunday saw the end of a 23-race podium streak. He would once again miss out on the podium in France but would respond with three victories in Italy and Catalunya where Rossi fought hard with Gibernau throughout the race, and a pole-victory at the Dutch round.
Arriving at the Rio de Janeiro round, Rossi crashed out of the race when he lost the front of his M1 and slid into the gravel whilst battling with Makoto Tamada, Max Biaggi, Nicky Hayden and Alex Barros, retiring from the race in the process. After the Rio round, Rossi would find himself once more off the podium in fourth place at the German GP but bounced back by winning the British round from pole. He then went on to finish second in the Czech Republic, first in Portugal and second once again in Japan.
At the inaugural Qatar round, controversy arose when Rossi's team was penalised by starting at the back of the grid for grid cleaning. Gibernau won the race, whilst Rossi crashed out of the race when he sat in sixth position. Despite this second DNF of the season, Rossi would score a pole which he converted into a race win at Malaysia and two more regular victories at the Australian and Valencian Community rounds, battling with the likes of Troy Bayliss, Nicky Hayden, Makoto Tamada and Max Biaggi to take his ninth victory of the year.
Rossi finished first with 304 points to Gibernau's 257, with Max Biaggi third with 217 points. He clinched his third MotoGP, fourth top class and sixth overall championship at the penultimate race of the season at Phillip Island, beating Gibernau by just 0.097 seconds to do so.
In 2005, Rossi and the Factory Yamaha team proved to be even more dominant than the year before. "The Doctor" would immediately begin the season by capturing pole and winning the first round in Spain in a controversial manner, colliding with the Gresini Honda of Sete Gibernau on the last lap. He would score a second place in Portugal but would score five consecutive victories from the Chinese to the Dutch rounds, including three pole positions in France, Italy and Assen.
At the first United States round since 1994, Rossi would struggle and finish in third place whilst local hero Nicky Hayden won the race. Rossi would bounce back by picking up three more wins, starting from a pole-victory in Great Britain and two regular victories in Germany, holding off Gibernau on the last lap, and the Czech Republic.
Rossi's first and only non-podium and retirement of the season came at the Japanese round, when he collided with Marco Melandri during a failed overtaking attempt. After Motegi, Rossi bounced back by scoring a podium in the form of second place in Malaysia and back-to-back wins in Qatar and Australia, beating Nicky Hayden for the victory. He finished the season with a second and third place finish at the Turkish and the Valencian Community rounds.
Rossi finished the season in first place with a total of 367 points, 147 points ahead of second-place finisher Marco Melandri and captured his fourth MotoGP, fifth top class and seventh overall championship in Sepang with four races remaining. He won 11 races including wins in three rain-affected races at Shanghai, Le Mans and Donington.
The 2006 season started off with Rossi once again being the favourite to win the championship. However, at the very first round in Spain, Rossi would be unlucky when Toni Elías misjudged his braking point into a corner and hit the rear wheel of Rossi who crashed into the gravel. He would rejoin the race but would only finish 14th. In the next race in Qatar though, he would score his first win of the season but would finish just off the podium in Turkey.
Going into the third round in China, disaster would strike once more when he was forced to retire after he moved up from 13th to fifth and was battling with Colin Edwards and John Hopkins for third position. A chunk of rubber from his front tyre had been thrown on his front fender, knocking it off the motorbike. Things didn't improve for him at the next round in France, he brushed the back of Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, causing Rossi to run wide and hit Randy de Puniet who then fell from his Kawasaki after striking Sete Gibernau. After climbing his way back up to second, Rossi overtook Hopkins on the fifth lap and started to pull a gap from Pedrosa after Hopkins lost the front of his Suzuki at an off-camber right-hander on lap 10 and retired. He was leading comfortably in first place with a gap of over three seconds until his Yamaha hit a mechanical problem on lap 21, forcing Rossi to retire for the second consecutive race. Valentino Rossi would leave Le Mans in eighth place in the championship with a 43-points deficit to Nicky Hayden.
After these two disappointing races, Rossi bounced back by scoring two wins: a regular victory at Italy and a pole-victory in Catalunya. At the Dutch round, he would only finish eighth after he fractured his hand and ankle when he fell on Thursday. The race was won by Nicky Hayden, who battled with the Yamaha teammate Colin Edwards on the last lap. Edwards tried to lunge past Hayden, but ran wide onto the gravel and eventually fell at the last corner.
With the disappointing result at Assen, Rossi would take second place in Great Britain and another win in Germany, fighting tooth and nail with the three Honda's of Marco Melandri, Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa. However, he would retire once more in the United States due to mechanical problems on the last few laps whilst local hero Nicky Hayden won the event for a second consecutive time. This extended Hayden's lead over Rossi with 34 points from 17 to 51, dropping Rossi to fourth in the championship.
Going into round 12 in the Czech Republic, Rossi would pick up a pole and a second place, and would win at the next round in Malaysia. Hayden held the points lead throughout most of the season, but by now Rossi was slowly working his way up the points ladder. A third place in Australia and a further second place in Japan saw the points lead of Hayden reduced from 51 points at Laguna Seca to 12 points in Motegi, with him moving from fourth to second in the championship standings.
Going into the penultimate round of the season in Portugal, Rossi took pole position on Saturday. On Sunday, Hayden was taken out by his teammate Dani Pedrosa on lap 5, causing both riders to retire. On the last lap, Toni Elías who was in third place, overtook both Kenny Roberts Jr. and Valentino Rossi to take the lead. Rossi eventually got back in front, but Elías shot past him at the final corner and would win the race with a 0.002 second advantage over Rossi. This led to Rossi taking the points lead with 8 points going into the last round of the year.
At the Valencian Community round, Rossi needed to finish in second place or higher to win the title. He took the second consecutive pole position on Saturday whilst Hayden could only qualify fifth. However, Rossi got a poor start on Sunday when the red lights went out, dropping him back in seventh place. On lap five, he made a mistake, lost the front wheel of his M1 and slid out of contention. He managed to get going again, but it would be to no avail: Rossi would finish 13th, collect 247 points and lost the title to Nicky Hayden by five points. The race was won by wildcard rider Troy Bayliss, who replaced the injured Sete Gibernau. After the race, Rossi called his fall "a disaster" but congratulated Nicky on his won title as well.
After the lost title in 2006, Rossi returned once again in 2007. The bike power was reduced from 990cc to 800cc for this season and over the winter, Yamaha worked on a new bike fitting these specifications for both Rossi and Colin Edwards. In the season opener in Qatar, Rossi took his first pole position of the year on Saturday but came second to Casey Stoner on the Ducati on Sunday, who had made the switch from the LCR Honda team to the Factory Ducati team. Rossi then won the second race in Spain In Turkey, Rossi would clinch another pole on Saturday, but would finish way down in tenth position after running wide on the fast turn eleven when he pushed hard to break away on the opening lap. Rossi fought his way back to second, overtaking Loris Capirossi on lap nine, but would lose positions quickly after the Michelin tyres started to fade and Rossi would suffer from a mysterious lack of speed, which allowed Toni Elías, Capirossi, John Hopkins, Marco Melandri and Alex Barros to overtake him within three laps. Stoner led every lap, won the race and gained a 10-point lead over Rossi in the process.
Rossi, once again finding himself on the backfoot in the championship, would respond in China by setting another pole position on Saturday and finishing in second place after battling hard with Stoner. Stoner, who made good use of the straight line speed of the Ducati on the long straight, blasted past Rossi every time he got overtaken earlier on the circuit. At the French round, Chris Vermeulen on the Suzuki won a rain-affected race. Rossi initially started well and even overtook Stoner in the early part of the race to make a break, but when the rain intensified, Rossi and his YZR-M1 struggled and were overtaken by Stoner, Randy de Puniet, Sylvain Guintoli and later also Nicky Hayden, Dani Pedrosa and Alex Hofmann. Rossi would eventually finish in sixth whilst Stoner would finish third, extending his championship lead by 21 points.
In Italy, he would win his first race of the season and at round seven in Catalunya, Rossi would cross the line in second place. After a hard-fought battle with Stoner, Rossi lost by just 0.069 seconds. In Great Britain, Rossi would just outside of the podium in fourth but bounced back at the Dutch round in great fashion by winning the race from eleventh on the grid. Rossi overtook many riders to eventually do the same to Stoner with four laps to go, and would build up a small gap he would never give away when crossing the line.
After Rossi's great win in Assen, he would be unlucky when he crashed on lap five of the German round and was forced to retire. He had made a poor start, dropping him from sixth to ninth on lap one, but was quick to regain two positions before struggling to pass Randy de Puniet for sixth position. When Rossi tried to squeeze his bike next to the Kawasaki of de Puniet, he lost the front of his M1 at low speed through a long right-hander and slid into the gravel. Rossi then would pick up more points by finishing in fourth and seventh place at the United States and Czech Republic rounds, but by then Stoner had built up a 60-point gap over Rossi when they left round 12.
Rossi would once more retire at the new San Marino venue whilst Stoner took his eighth win of the season, extending his championship lead from 60 to 85 points in the process. At the next round in Portugal, Rossi would win his final race of the season after a close fight with the Honda of Dani Pedrosa. Rossi worked his way up from fifth to third on the opening lap, overtaking Stoner on lap nine after Pedrosa did the same two laps earlier. He then overtook Pedrosa on lap ten and a fight would commence where Pedrosa re-overtook Rossi on lap 16, only taking the first spot back from Pedrosa with four laps left after he ran wide. Rossi then made a similar error and retook the lead just half a lap later. Pedrosa was still narrowly ahead but Rossi was better on the brakes and plunged down the inside of the first corner in turn one. The move failed and he ran wide, but carried enough momentum to try the same move again a few corners later, this time succeeding. Rossi crossed the line 0.175 seconds ahead of Pedrosa to win his fourth race of the season.
At the Japanese round, Rossi suffered from braking problems on his second bike after all riders were forced to swap bikes due to the drying track, finishing in 13th position. This was enough for Casey Stoner to become 2007 world champion after he finished the race in sixth position and gave him an unassailable lead in the championship. Rossi would go on to take one last podium in Australia, finishing in third place, but would only pick up points in fifth position at the Malaysian round. At the last race of the season, the Valencian Community race, Rossi started way back in 17th due to a fracture of three bones in his right hand after a qualifying fall. He took 16th on lap seven and passed Shinya Nakano for 15th and thus the final point, but was forced to retire on lap 18 after his YZR-M1 suffered a technical problem, marking this his third DNF of the season. The race was won by Dani Pedrosa, with Casey Stoner about five seconds behind in second place.
Stoner dominated the season, winning ten races to take his first title, 125 points clear of second place Dani Pedrosa. Rossi on the other hand, finished in third place with 241 points, six less than in 2006. This was Rossi's lowest championship position since his first season in 1996 in the 125cc. Pedrosa's win in the last race at Valencia combined with Rossi's retirement meant that he beat Rossi by a single point.
After two frustrating seasons where Rossi and Yamaha lost the title for two consecutive seasons to Nicky Hayden's Honda and Casey Stoner's Ducati, he switched from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres, claiming that it was needed to "boost his motivation". His new teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, did not opt for the change. Few people thought Rossi was still capable of winning another title and some said he should retire, whilst others assumed that Casey Stoner would win his second title or that Dani Pedrosa would become a genuine title contender after his strong performances in 2006 and 2007.
Rossi started the year with a fifth place in Qatar whilst Stoner won the race, prompting some to already suggest that it would be more of the same like last year. However, Rossi fought back in Spain by finishing second whilst Stoner could only manage 11th place. Rossi would finish third at the Portuguese round with his teammate Jorge Lorenzo winning after a late charge from Pedrosa was not enough to retake the lead.
After the good performances in Spain and Portugal, Rossi would score three consecutive victories: two regular victories at China and France and a pole-victory at the Italian round. Two more second place finishes followed, one in Catalunya and one in Great Britain.
Approaching round 9 of the season, the Dutch GP was not a success for Rossi. He came to Assen with an 11-point lead over runner-up Pedrosa, but made a slow start from third on the grid, only to lose the back of his M1 machine on the entry of a tight left hand hairpin - his rear wheel sliding around and collecting Randy de Puniet's LCR Honda, taking him out in the process. Rossi would remount the bike and get going again but could only finish 11th, handing the lead of the championship to Pedrosa by four points.
After the disappointing result in Assen, Rossi retook the lead of the championship in a rain-affected German round after Pedrosa crashed out of the wet track and Rossi came second, the race won by Stoner. Rossi then took a multitude of race wins from the United States, where Rossi took the win after a hard battle and a pass down the "Corkscrew" corner over Stoner, who crashed a few laps later but continued and took second place, to Japan, including a pole-victory at a rain-shortened race in Indianapolis. His wins in both Laguna Seca and Indianapolis also meant that Rossi had won at every circuit on the calendar at the time and his win at Motegi was his first MotoGP victory at the track, becoming the first Yamaha rider to win at the Honda-owned circuit.
Going into round 15 of the championship, Rossi needed to finish third or higher to win the title at Motegi. He started off poor, dropping from fourth to fifth on the grid but quickly made up ground by overtaking Jorge Lorenzo and Nicky Hayden on lap two before he hunted down his title rivals. When Stoner made the pass on Pedrosa on lap six, Rossi did the same and went after Stoner until he made the race winning move on lap 14 under braking. Rossi then pulled away from the Ducati rider to cross the line in first position and clinch his fifth MotoGP, sixth top class and eighth overall championship in Japan with three races remaining. On the podium, he wore a shirt with the text "Scusate il ritardo" ("Sorry for the delay") in Italian, emphasising his lack of titles in the last two years.
After Rossi wrapped up the title in Motegi with an unassailable lead of 92 points, he would score three more podiums: a second place behind home hero Stoner in Australia, another win in Malaysia and a third place at the Valencian Community round.
Rossi finished first in the championship with 373 points, 93 points ahead of second place Casey Stoner.
After the unexpected success and title of Rossi in 2008, many expected him to be a strong contender in 2009. Rossi took two consecutive second places: a regular podium in Qatar and a pole-podium in Japan, the race won by Rossi's teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi's first victory of the year would come at the third round in Spain. Rossi started fourth, but overtook teammate Lorenzo for third on lap two, then made a second pass stick for second position on lap seven. Race leader Pedrosa was ahead with 1.4 seconds ahead of him by then, but Rossi would storm to the rear wheel of the Honda rider with eleven laps to go. He made the victory pass at the Nieto corner to take a lead of 2.7 seconds when crossing the line, taking the championship lead over from Stoner by eleven points in the process.
The French GP would turn out to be a disaster for Rossi. Jorge Lorenzo won the frantic wet/dry race whilst Rossi fell after a premature bike swap to slick tyres and also received a ride through penalty, ending up in 16th place and failing to score any points. This handed the championship lead to Rossi's teammate Lorenzo, who was now ahead of both Rossi and Stoner by just one point.
Things started to look better once again when Rossi registered a third position in Italy, but lost his sequence of seven consecutive victories at the venue. After Mugello, Rossi took two more victories: a regular victory at Catalunya, battling with Lorenzo throughout the race and overtaking him on the last corner of the last lap to win the race by just 0.095 seconds, and a pole-victory at the Dutch round. This victory marked his 100th career win, becoming only the second rider in motorcycle grand prix history – after Giacomo Agostini – to reach 100 wins.
At the United States GP, Rossi finished a close second after surprise race winner Dani Pedrosa. He then would go on to score three more pole positions: a pole-win at the German round, fighting tooth and nail once more with his teammate Jorge Lorenzo with five laps to go. On the penultimate lap, Rossi retook the lead and held off Lorenzo to claim win by a margin of 0.099 seconds. This win gave Rossi a championship lead of 14 points over Lorenzo and a 28-point lead over Stoner. At the next race in Great Britain, Rossi started from pole but was demoted to third on the first lap. A five-strong lead group of Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elías were battling for the lead when Elías was the first to fall on lap eight after he clipped a wet white line on the track, a similar mistake which would also lead to Lorenzo's fall and retirement of the race. This left Dovizioso and Rossi to battle it out, but as the rain intensified, so did their lead. Both were ahead with 13 seconds, separating them and third place Randy de Puniet, but Rossi would spin out of the lead when the rear of his M1 span-out through the Fogarty Esses on lap 20, demoting him to eleventh and leaving Dovizioso almost ten seconds clear of de Puniet. Rossi climbed up to fifth on the last lap, overtaking home hero James Toseland at the final turn, but the race victory would go to the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso for the first time. At the Czech Republic round, Rossi took a commanding victory, crossing the line more than 11 seconds ahead of second place Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi's first and only retirement came at Indianapolis when he crashed out of the race after being overtaken by the eventual winner Lorenzo on lap ten. This win meant that Lorenzo had halved Rossi's title advantage to just 25 points with five rounds to go. At the next race in San Marino, Rossi responded by taking his sixth pole position of the year on Saturday and winning the race at his "home venue" ahead of Lorenzo on Sunday, extending his lead to 30 points. In Portugal however, it was Lorenzo who had the upper hand, winning the race with Rossi only able to finish fourth, reducing the championship lead from 30 to 18 points. At the Australian round, Rossi finished a close second to home hero Casey Stoner, who won the race. Lorenzo crashed on the opening lap after running into Nicky Hayden's Honda, forcing him to retire. This widened the championship gap from 18 to 38 points with two rounds remaining.
At the penultimate round in Malaysia, Rossi scored another pole position on Saturday and a podium in the form of third place at the wet track in Sepang on race day, behind Stoner and Pedrosa. This was enough for him to clinch his sixth MotoGP, seventh top class and ninth overall title over Jorge Lorenzo who started at the back of the grid and could only finish fourth, behind Rossi. This gave Rossi an unassailable lead of 45 points over Lorenzo. The final race of the season, the Valencian Community, resulted in a final second place podium of the year for Rossi, behind Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi finished first in the championship with 306 points, 72 points ahead of second-place Jorge Lorenzo. Six wins was the lowest number of wins Rossi has had in a championship winning season; the previous minima were nine in 1999 in the 250cc class and 2003, 2004 and 2008 in MotoGP. Rossi also failed to win at Mugello for the first time since 2001.
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.
With two consecutive titles won, Rossi was once again the favourite to win the title going into the 2010 season, and this seemed even more likely after he topped all but one of the pre-season testing sessions.
Rossi started off the first few races well. He won the first race of the season in Qatar after early leader Casey Stoner crashed out, took third place in Spain even though he had an injured shoulder sustained from a motocross accident two weeks earlier, the race being won by his teammate Jorge Lorenzo after a last-lap pass at the Dry Sack corner on Honda's Dani Pedrosa and a pole-podium in the form of a second place in France where Lorenzo claimed back-to-back wins for the first time in his MotoGP career. The injury Rossi had 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.
At round four in Italy, things took a turn for the worse for Rossi. He highsided his YZR-M1 in one of the fast right-left combinations, the Biondetti corner, during the second free practice, at around 120 mph (190 km/h). He suffered a displaced compound fracture of his right tibia. This crushed any hopes of him winning the 2010 title, and after post-surgical care close to his home in the hospital at Cattolica, it was clear that he was out of contention for the next two or three months. It was the first time that Rossi had missed a race in his Grand Prix career, and allowed his title rivals - Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner - to gain points, podiums and wins while he was absent for the Italian, British, Dutch and Catalan rounds.
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 German GP weekend and missing four rounds, Rossi returned in Germany and remarkably finished just off the podium in fourth position after losing out to Casey Stoner on the final corner, starting fifth. He returned two rounds earlier than predicted, and only 41 days after his accident. At round 9 of the season, held in the United States, Rossi took his first podium since his broken leg seven weeks ago at Mugello, overtaking the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso in the process. The race was won by Lorenzo after Pedrosa crashed out of the lead. At the next two rounds, in the Czech Republic and Indianapolis, Rossi scored lackluster results by finishing fifth and fourth.
At his "home race" in San Marino, Rossi scored another third place behind race-winner Pedrosa and second-place Lorenzo. The race was marred by the death of the Japanese Moto2 rider Shoya Tomizawa, who was hit at high speed by Alex de Angelis and Scott Redding after he fell at the fast right-hander of the Misano circuit on lap 12 and succumbed to his injuries later in the hospital. At the new venue in Aragón, Rossi was again off the pace and finished in sixth position. He bounced back by scoring yet another third-place podium in Japan, the race being moved from April to October due the disruption of air travel after the second eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. Rossi battled with teammate Lorenzo for the bottom step of the podium during the race, which was won by Casey Stoner, but by now had a 69-point lead in the championship over second place Dani Pedrosa.
In Malaysia, Rossi took a stunning victory by winning the race from 11th position, battling with the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso for the win multiple times. Rossi had qualified sixth, but lost multiple positions in the first set of corners after a poor getaway. He overtook multiple riders, including Lorenzo, to fight for the lead with Dovizioso on a few occasions, but held on to finish ahead of him with just 0.224 seconds. This was his first win since his incident in June, and his second win of the season. However, Lorenzo won the title, finishing in third place when he needed ninth or higher to win the title.
Rossi finished third in the championship with 233 points, 150 points behind champion Jorge Lorenzo and 12 points behind runner-up Dani Pedrosa. Rossi collected ten podiums throughout the season, including five consecutive podiums in the season's final run.
On 15 August 2010, after the Brno race, Rossi confirmed he would ride for the Ducati team, signing a two-year deal starting in 2011, joining former Honda racing teammate Nicky Hayden. 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 initial 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.
There was much anticipation for the first race of the season; Rossi on an Italian bike turned quite some heads, but he started the season on a disappointing note, only finishing seventh in Qatar. At the second round in Spain, Rossi had moved up from 12th on the grid to third, when he collided with the Honda of Casey Stoner with 20 laps to go. As Rossi edged past on the inside of Stoner, his bike slipped from under him in the wet conditions, causing both riders to slide off the track. Rossi resumed and eventually finished fifth, but Stoner retired from the race. Rossi later apologised for the incident. Another fifth place followed in Portugal where he rose from ninth to fourth, battling with the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso, who snatched fourth place from him at the line.
Rossi's best result of the year came in France, where he took his first and only podium of the season. He battled hard with the Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo and the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso, overtaking both for fifth place, when Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli at the front collided. Pedrosa crashed and retired from the race whilst Simoncelli was given a ride-through penalty.
At round nine in Germany, Rossi disappointingly finished in ninth place. At the next two races in the United States and the Czech Republic, he picked up two sixth places, but once again scored a disappointing result when he crossed the line in tenth at Indianapolis after he encountered gearbox problems in the race. On lap nine, Rossi ran last and considered retiring, but climbed his way back up to tenth place in the end.
Poor results continued at his "home grand prix" in San Marino and Aragón, when Rossi could only finish seventh and tenth, battling with the Tech 3 Yamaha of Cal Crutchlow before he got the better of Rossi to cross the line 0.180 seconds ahead of him.
Rossi ended the year on a low. At the Japanese round, Rossi crashed out of the race on the first lap after a couple of corners. He collided with Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies and left Rossi with a blow to his finger. Another retirement followed in Australia when Rossi tried to overtake Álvaro Bautista for fifth on lap 14, lost the front of his Ducati and slid out of 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 came off in the incident. Simoncelli was killed instantly, and the race was cancelled. At the Valencian Community round, 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.
After a frustrating first season with the Ducati, 2012 was little better for Rossi. He started poorly in Qatar, starting from 12th and could only muster tenth at the line. In Spain and Portugal, he finished in ninth and seventh positions, respectively.
One of his best results of the year came at the French round. He started from seventh on the grid but moved to fourth on the opening lap and overtook the fading Pedrosa for third on lap three. Rossi then was caught by the Tech 3 Yamaha's of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso, who battled with him over the bottom step of the podium from laps 4 to 18 until Crutchlow lost the front end of his M1 at the first corner. He remounted and continued the race - as did Dovizioso, who suffered the same fate with four laps to go. After breaking free of both the Tech 3 riders, Rossi slashed the advantage Stoner had built up during the fighting and reeled him in over the remaining ten laps. On the penultimate lap, Rossi tried to overtake Stoner on the fast left-right combination at the beginning of the track, but ran wide and Stoner retook the position. On the final lap, Rossi retried the move, this time successfully, and built a small gap over the remainder of the lap to cross the line in second place: the best finish Rossi has on a Ducati to date.
Over the next couple of races, the Ducati continued to perform poorly, allowing Rossi to only score points. He finished seventh in Catalunya, while in Great Britain, Rossi was fastest in the first free-practice session, but finished the race in ninth. After a thirteenth-place finish at the Dutch round, Rossi finished sixth in Germany, his best dry result of the season so far. In Italy, he improved upon his German result and finished fifth. His first and only DNF of the season came at the United States GP. Rossi was going to come home in eighth position, when he fell at the corkscrew corner whilst trying to brake. He was also unhappy with the bike setup for the race, preventing him from riding quick enough all weekend. Rossi finished seventh at the Indianapolis and Czech Republic rounds.
Rossi would equal his best Ducati result in Le Mans by finishing second for the second consecutive time this season. His Ducati bike got a new frame and swingarm, which improved the performance of the motorcycle. Rossi ended his final year with Ducati with lackluster performances. In Aragón, he finished eighth, in Japan, seventh, at the Malaysian round, fifth, in Australia, seventh and at the Valencian Community round, tenth.
Rossi finished sixth in the championship with 163 points, 187 points behind champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Return to Yamaha (2013–)Edit
On 10 August, it was confirmed that Rossi would leave the factory Ducati team at the end of the 2012 season after riding two seasons for 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 on 5–7 February 2013 in Sepang, where he posted the third-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 well. At the opening round in Qatar, he had a competitive pace all weekend but lost out badly with the new qualifying format, demoting him to seventh place on race day. He quickly fought himself back to fourth on the opening lap, but ran wide when he tried to overtake Ducati replacement rider Andrea Dovizioso, once again dropping him back to seventh place. His podium chances continued to worsen when he got stuck behind Stefan Bradl, but once he passed him, he defied the odds by bridging a three-second gap to Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Márquez, who were fighting for second place. Rossi passed both Crutchlow and Pedrosa, but Márquez' aggressive riding style and determination led to a battle between the two. Márquez overtook Rossi on the penultimate lap, with Rossi repassing him on the final lap to stay ahead and cross the line ahead of the Spanish rookie with 0.211 seconds. At the next two races at the Americas and Spain, Rossi finished in sixth and fourth position. At the French round, he would finish a disappointing twelfth. He started the race from eighth on the grid and moved up to third to grab another podium but lost the position to Cal Crutchlow and then slid out of contention with ten laps to go. Rossi continued to finish in twelfth position, albeit on a damaged bike and hampered by a misting visor.
At round five in Italy, Rossi registered his only retirement of the year. He was involved with a first-lap collision with the Gresini Honda of Álvaro Bautista at the left-right chicane that forms turns two and three. Rossi rode around the outside of Bautista, but he failed to notice Rossi and clipped his bike on the approach to the right-hander, making him fall and collecting Rossi in the process. In Catalunya, Rossi finished just off the podium for the second consecutive time by finishing fourth after starting from seventh on the grid.
On 29 June 2013 at the Dutch round, Rossi recorded his first MotoGP win since Malaysia in 2010 – a 46-race winless streak. He started from fourth on the grid but overtook the Honda of Dani Pedrosa for the lead on lap six, a lead he held until the line despite a late charge by the other Honda of Marc Márquez, who crossed the line 2.170 seconds behind Rossi. After his first win of the season in Assen, Rossi continued to score good results by scoring two more podiums in the form of third places at the German and United States rounds, in which Márquez overtook Rossi at the corkscrew corner in similar fashion to what Rossi did to Casey Stoner in 2008 to win the race.
From Indianapolis to San Marino, Rossi scored four consecutive fourth places, before scoring yet another third-place podium at Aragón after a three-way battle for the spot with Álvaro Bautista, Stefan Bradl and Cal Crutchlow. Rossi again finished just off the podium at the Malaysian round, finishing fourth, but scored a final podium in the form of third place at the Australian round, once more battling Crutchlow and Bautista. At the last two rounds in Japan and at the Valencian Community, Rossi finished sixth and fourth respectively.
Rossi finished fourth in the championship with 237 points - his best result since 2010 - 97 points behind champion Marc Márquez. He scored six podiums, including one win at Assen.
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's first year since his return to Yamaha went well, and hopes for 2014 were even higher: more podiums, wins or even the illustrious tenth title all were mentioned by people. He started the season well with a second-place finish in Qatar, storming from tenth on the grid to battle with the Honda of Marc Márquez for the win, only to miss out on the victory on the last lap with 0.259 seconds at the line. At the next two races, the 2014 Motorcycle Grand Prix of the Americas and the new venue in Argentina, Rossi only scored points by finishing in eighth and fourth.
A better result was achieved in the fourth round of the championship in Spain, where he chose to use an extra-hard rear tyre that allowed him to move up to second from fourth on the grid and overtake Márquez at the end of the back straight on the first lap. Both swapped places over the remainder of the first and second laps, but Márquez pulled away at the Dry Sack corner and Rossi had to settle for second place. Another second place came in France after Rossi ran wide halfway through the race, allowing Márquez to win. On 1 June 2014, Rossi appeared in his 300th Grand Prix race at the Italian round. He finished the race in third place. His fourth second place came at the Catalan GP, leading for much of the race but ultimately losing first place to Márquez at a late stage in the race. Lackluster performances followed at the Dutch and German rounds - fifth and fourth - until a string of third places followed at the Indianapolis, Czech and British rounds.
At his "home race" in San Marino, Rossi won his first race since the 2013 Dutch TT round. He started third on the grid, before moving up and battling with Márquez for the lead. On lap 10, Márquez fell, which allowed Rossi to pull a gap and finish first at the line, ahead of teammate Jorge Lorenzo. The victory pushed him past 5000 total career points, making him the first, and so far only, rider to achieve this.
At round 14 in Aragón, 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.
In Australia Rossi took his second victory of the year. He benefitted from an accident of Marc Márquez, who had been leading the race. It was Rossi's sixth win at the circuit, after five consecutive wins from 2001 to 2005. In Malaysia, another second-place finish followed after he initially took the lead halfway in the race after passing Lorenzo. Márquez passed both Lorenzo and Rossi, pulling a gap and finishing 2.445 seconds ahead of Rossi. Rossi took his first pole position since the 2010 French Grand Prix at the Valencian Community race, his 60th pole position in Grand Prix racing. He finished in second place behind Márquez in the race.
Rossi finished second in the championship with 295 points, 67 points behind champion Marc Márquez.
With a season of consistant podium finishes, - including two wins in San Marino and Australia - there were once more hopes that Rossi could win his tenth title this year. He 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 the 2010 Qatar race. Rossi held off Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso to cross the line 0.174 seconds ahead and 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. At the second race at the Americas, Rossi scored his first third place podium. He moved up into second place, but couldn't match the pace of polesitter and eventual winner Marc Márquez and lost out second to Dovizioso in the late stages of the race. His second victory of the season came in Argentina, where Rossi and polesitter Márquez had a clash after a battle for the lead, causing Márquez to crash out of the penultimate lap and handing Rossi the race victory. This win consolidated his championship lead, becoming the first rider to win a race using an extra-hard Bridgestone rear tyre.
He recorded his fourth podium finish of the year, 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 place on home soil in Italy. In Catalunya, Rossi would finish second once after a late charge on teammate and race winner Jorge Lorenzo to maintain the championship lead over his teammate by one point.
Rossi took his first pole position of the season at the Dutch race - his first pole since the 2014 Valencian Community round and 61st pole position in Grand Prix racing - and achieved his third victory of the season after a race-long battle with Márquez where both would once again collide on the final corner on the last lap. It was his first win from pole position since the 2009 San Marino Grand Prix and his twelfth successive podium. he also extended his championship lead to ten points over Lorenzo, who finished third.
Rossi further extended his championship lead in Germany with third, and continued his podium streak with third-place finishes at Indianapolis, and the Czech Republic. 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 Great Britain, after Márquez – who had been chasing him for the majority of the race – crashed out in wet conditions on lap 13 while Lorenzo finished fourth. The podium streak of 16 races ended with a fifth-place finish in San Marino, but Rossi extended his championship lead to 23 points after Lorenzo crashed out. Lorenzo won the Aragón round with Rossi finishing 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 points with a second-place finish to Dani Pedrosa - his first win of the season - in drying conditions. Lorenzo had started on pole but faded to third with tyre issues. Lorenzo then cut the lead to eleven points 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 controversial 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 at the Valencian Community. 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 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 Márquez 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 announced that he will continue his career by keeping his contract with the Factory Yamaha team until 2018. Yamaha announced that Rossi will ride a 2016 YZR-M1 which also includes ECU Michelin tyres new to MotoGP and all riders. Expecting a difficult start to the season due to the new tires, Rossi was able to adjust as he stated to the media at Sepang during the tests.
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 a second place behind Marc Márquez after a collision between Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso on the last lap allowed Rossi and Dani Pedrosa to move up, 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 to make 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 Ducatis. At the third round in the Americas, 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 turn 2 when he lost the front of his M1 mid-corner.
In Spain, Rossi took his first pole position of the year - his first since the Dutch round last year and his 52nd pole position overall - on Saturday and led the race start-to-finish with the exception of one corner to Jorge Lorenzo. The race marked the first time in his MotoGP career that Rossi led every lap of a race from pole position. At the French round, Rossi started a lowly seventh on the grid but recovered in the race, overtaking both Márquez and Dovizioso in the process, to finish second with the fastest lap of the race, the race won by Yamaha teammate Lorenzo. Rossi suffered an engine failure on his home race in Italy when battling 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 in 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 the Dutch race 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 German round 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 Márquez, saw him come home eighth.
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 fourth behind Jorge Lorenzo. Another wet race in the Czech Republic 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 second to Cal Crutchlow. Great Britain saw Rossi line up second on the grid behind pole-sitter Crutchlow, and following an intense battle with Márquez, eventually finishing third behind Crutchlow and first-time race winner Maverick Viñales. A week later Rossi finished second at his "home race" in San Marino. 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 Aragón before eventually finishing third.
The flyaway races began badly for Rossi after crashing out of second place in Japan, having started from pole. Victory for Márquez saw him crowned champion with three races remaining. Rossi started 15th at the Australian race after a rain affected qualifying, but recovered to finish second in the race. Rossi secured second place once more in wet conditions in Malaysia behind Andrea Dovizioso having again led for periods of the race, the result securing second place in the championship for the third year in a row. The season concluded in the same fashion as 2015 did, with fourth place in Valencia, after a long-battle with Iannone.
Rossi finished second in the championship with 249 points, 49 points behind champion Marc Márquez.
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 season opener in Qatar however, he appeared to make a breakthrough, moving from tenth on the grid to finish third. Rossi continued his improvement by taking back-to-back second place podiums in Argentina after a battle with Cal Crutchlow for second place and the Americas to take the lead of the championship after three races by six points.
The European season began disappointingly with a lowly tenth position at the Spanish round whilst Honda rider Dani Pedrosa won the race from pole. At the next race in France, Rossi crashed out of the race on the last lap while battling teammate Viñales for the win. Rossi also lost the championship lead after the race. Following the French race, Rossi suffered a motocross training crash and had mild thoracic and abdominal trauma, but no fractures were detected in any part of the body and no serious traumatic pathologies were found. This crash initially threatened his participation at Mugello, but ultimately he passed a late fitness test and was deemed fit to race. At his home race in Italy, Rossi finished just off the podium in fourth, blaming his lack of energy due to his motocross training crash a week earlier which prevented him from scoring a podium. A week later in Catalunya, both Yamaha riders struggled as they did in Jerez in the hot conditions with Rossi and Viñales only able to finish eighth and tenth.
Tests of a new chassis after the Catalan race were positive and saw Rossi take his first and only win of the season at the Dutch round after a late-race battle with the Pramac Ducati of Danilo Petrucci, who ran 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. After his win in Assen, Rossi underperformed at the next three rounds in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, finishing in fifth, fourth and seventh.
Rossi returned on the podium in Great Britain, leading for much of the race but ultimately having to concede the win to Dovizioso and second to Viñales with three laps to go. After the race at Silverstone, Rossi suffered another motocross crash in late August where he suffered displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg. He suffered these injuries on the same leg that he previously broke in his high-speed crash at Mugello in 2010 and put him out of contention, requiring surgery and missing his "home race" in San Marino.
After missing out on the race in Misano, Rossi returned in Aragón to finish an impressive fifth after lining up at the front row of the grid on Saturday. In Japan, Rossi would go on to record his second retirement of the season when he crashed out of the wet early on in the race. At the Australian GP, Rossi would score his final podium of the season by finishing in second place, fighting hard with Tech 3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco and finishing ahead of teammate Viñales by just 0.016 seconds. Rossi would finish the season with disappointing results at the Malaysian and Valencian Community rounds, only being able to score seventh and fifth.
Rossi finished fifth in the championship with 208 points - his lowest position since his final season with Ducati in 2012 -, 90 points behind champion Marc Márquez.
During the pre-season tests, Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales were once again struggling with their 2018 YZR-M1 competitor. Both riders were concerned about corner-entry and corner-exit issues, and the lack of traction and tyre temperature.
At the first round in Qatar, Rossi started off well by getting a first of the season in the form of third place. He had a good start from eighth on the grid to move up to fourth on the opening lap, overtook the Honda of Dani Pedrosa on the second lap and made his move on the other Honda of Marc Márquez with 17 laps to go. However, he went wide at turn one on lap 11 and allowed Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso past. With five laps to go, Rossi muscled his way past the Tech 3 Yamaha of Johann Zarco but eventually couldn't get close enough and crossed the line 0.797 seconds behind eventual race winner Dovizioso. In Argentina, Rossi finished outside of the points in 19th place after a collision with the Honda of Márquez, who was storming through the field after starting from the back when his bike stalled. Márquez went up the inside of multiple riders, clashing with the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaró first and later with Rossi, but he misjudged the braking point and forced Rossi to go wide, making him clip the grass and fall in the process. Rossi would get going again, but would fail to score any points. After the race, Rossi accused Márquez of "destroying our sport" because he "doesn't have any respect for his rivals" and Márquez got a 30-second penalty for the action. At the following rounds at the Americas and Spain, Rossi would finish off the podium twice in fourth and fifth place, but he would bounce back by scoring three consecutive third place podiums at the French, once again profiting from a lightning start on the opening lap which allowed him to move up from ninth to sixth and then pick off riders like Zarco and Lorenzo towards the middle of the race, Italian and Catalan rounds. At Mugello, he would score his first and only pole position of the season - his first since the 2016 Japanese GP and his 51st MotoGP pole position overall.
Rossi would only finish fifth at the Dutch round, but would score his first and only second place of the season in Germany, 2.196 seconds behind winner Márquez, claiming he finished so high on a track that usually doesn't suit the Yamaha's because he "studied everything" from the then-absent Jonas Folger. After his podium finish at the Sachsenring, Rossi would once more finish off the podium at the Czech Republic and Austria in fourth and sixth place.
With the race in Great Britain cancelled due to heavy rain which failed to drain properly on the newly repaved Silverstone surface, Rossi would fail to finish on the podium for five consecutive races: San Marino in seventh, Aragón in eighth, Thailand and Japan in fourth, and Australia in sixth.
Rossi's best chance at a victory came at the penultimate round of the season in Malaysia. He took the lead going into the first corner from P2 after poleman Zarco made a poor start and built up a gap, but Márquez stormed up through the field and the gap between them was 1.1 seconds with ten laps to go. Rossi pushed hard to keep the gap above 1 second, but Márquez dipped below to 0.7 seconds with five laps to go. Many were preparing for a Rossi-Márquez battle, when Rossi lost the front of his M1 bike with four laps to go at turn 1. Márquez won the race, with Rossi remounting and finishing 19th, outside the points. At the Valencian Community round, Rossi moved up the order from 16th on the grid in the wet conditions, being helped by some of the front runners crashing out in the ever-worsening conditions. When the race was stopped, Rossi was forced to use a used rear tyre, which he claimed "made the difference" as he was "more in trouble with the rear". As the race restarted, Rossi crashed out of second place.
Rossi finished third in the championship with 198 points, 123 points behind champion Marc Márquez. This was Rossi's first winless season since the 2012 season when he raced with Ducati, and his first ever winless season with the Factory Yamaha team.
During the pre-season tests, both Yamaha riders had mixed feelings of the 2019 YZR-M1. There were signs that showed that some of the problems, like the lack of traction and degradation of the tyres, were less of an issue this year. However, at the Sepang tests, Rossi said he was only "half-happy" with the results, claiming that "some things worked well and we improved our performance, other things from which we expected a lot unfortunately didn’t bring us what we need.".
At the opening round in Qatar, Rossi lined up 14th on the grid on Saturday, but stormed through the field to finish in fifth at the line, 0.600 seconds behind race winner Andrea Dovizioso. At the next race in Argentina, Rossi rode a strong race where he battled with the Ducati of Dovizioso, overtaking him on the last lap to finish second, his first podium since the 2018 German round. At the third round in the Americas, Rossi once again finished in second position after Marc Márquez crashed out of the race and Rossi was overtaken by the Suzuki of Álex Rins with four laps to go. Eventually, Rins crossed the line 0.462 seconds ahead of Rossi to win his first ever MotoGP race.
1990s and early 2000s: Capirossi, Biaggi and GibernauEdit
- Loris Capirossi
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially during his 250cc career, Rossi's main rival was fellow Italian Loris Capirossi. They often fought hard between each other during the races - with 1999 Assen, 2003 Catalunya and 2006 Mugello as examples - they always maintained a level of fairness on and off the track.
Their rivalry died down when Capirossi stopped consistently battling for podiums and eventually retired from MotoGP racing completely in 2011.
- Max Biaggi
At the early stages of his 500cc career, Max Biaggi was considered Rossi's main rival. Valentino often found himself battling on the track with Capirossi and Biaggi, dubbing them "the three musketeers" by the Italian press. While the rivalry with Capirossi never escalated and the two always were on good terms with each other, the rivalry with Biaggi had been growing since the mid-1990s, even though both didn't race against each other until the 2000 season when Rossi first joined the 500cc class.
Before the first race of the 2001 season even started, Rossi and Biaggi already got into a heated argument when Biaggi encountered Rossi at a restaurant in Suzuka and told him to "wash your mouth out before saying my name". At the first round of the season in Japan, one of the most famous episodes in their rivalry took place when Biaggi seemed to have tried to push Rossi into the dirt at high speed and a few laps later Rossi overtook Biaggi and showed, on live television, his middle finger to him. Their rivalry reached its peak two months later at the 2001 Catalan round when at the end of the 500cc race, Rossi and Biaggi came to blows (involving members of their entourage and circuit employees) in the moments before the podium ceremony. Neither rider admitted that they got into a fist fight, but Biaggi appeared in the post-race press conference with red marks and scratches on his face, which he said "must have been caused by a mosquito bite". Rossi claimed that the incident happened because Biaggi bumped into his manager as both riders prepared to go up to the podium with third place finisher Loris Capirossi.
Two weeks later at the next Grand Prix in Assen, Honda organized a press conference to put the events of Barcelona behind them. Rossi and Biaggi talked about the event and shook hands in front of the media, which ended the feud. After that, although they have had run-ins on track over the next couple of seasons, the media frenzy surrounding them and any incidents off-track calmed down, mainly due to Rossi's consecutive World Championships and Biaggi's struggle to find support and a consistent rhythm with his races, even after switching to the Honda Pons and later the Factory Honda team.
Some would also consider the 2004 South African round another key point in the rivalry due to the switch Rossi made from the Factory Honda to the Factory Yamaha team, with many believing that Biaggi would have the upper hand for the season due to the advantage the Honda had over its competitors at the time. During the race, Rossi and Biaggi fought hard but eventually, Rossi crossed the line 0.210 seconds ahead of Biaggi, dealing a critical psychological blow to Biaggi, with Rossi calling the race "one of the best of his career".
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.
- Sete Gibernau
Rossi's closest rival in the 2003 and 2004 seasons was Sete Gibernau, riding for the Gresini Team Movistar Honda 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 and Rossi accused Gibernau of being behind the move to appeal for a sanction, something the Spaniard categorically denied. Rossi accused Gibernau in 2015 that he was "playing a dirty game".
Since then the two have not spoken and Rossi seemed 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.
The rivalry between Rossi and Gibernau climaxed at the 2005 round in Jerez. Rossi started from pole position but Gibernau overtook him on the first lap. On the final lap, Gibernau was in the lead, but Rossi tried to overtake him at the final corner - the Dry Sack hairpin - with both colliding mid-corner. Gibernau ran wide and would finish second whilst Rossi would win the race. After the incident, Gibernau was furious and refused to comment on the last lap. Meanwhile the Spanish crowd booed Rossi out as the Italian national anthem was playing to celebrate another victory for "The Doctor". Rossi commented on the incident, stating that his move had been "hard" but also that "motorbike races sometimes are like this".
Tensions ended when 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."
Late 2000s and early 2010s: Stoner and LorenzoEdit
- Casey Stoner
Casey Stoner emerged as a rival for Rossi when he moved from the LCR team in 2006 to the official Factory Ducati team in 2007. Over the course of the season, Rossi and Stoner frequently battled for wins - particulary in Catalunya and China - but the young Australian had the better of Rossi in many of the races thanks to the strong Ducati and Bridgestone combination and the underperforming Yamaha Rossi had, resulting in his claiming of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship title.
Stoner's and Rossi's rivalry came to a dramatic climax at the 2008 United States GP. After numerous position changes, Rossi overtook Stoner at the Corkscrew. The 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 whilst outbraking himself, almost crashing into Rossi in the process. Stoner picked up his bike to finish second, while Rossi took the win. When Rossi wanted to shake Stoner's hand at parc ferme, he angrily refused. At the press conference, Stoner claimed that some of Rossi's moved were considered "aggressive" but Rossi called it "just racing". 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.
The rivalry cooled down when Rossi won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009 whilst Stoner struggled with the Ducati for multiple seasons, suffered from a mystery illness and various crashes - despite still battling hard with Rossi on some occasions.
After Rossi moved to the Factory Ducati team and Stoner to the Factory Honda team in 2011, tensions would once again rise at the 2011 Spanish round when Rossi collided with Stoner, causing him to crash out of the race while Rossi got going again and finished fifth. After the race, Rossi went to Stoner to apologise for the incident, who smiled and accepted Rossi's handshake. However, Stoner told Rossi that "Your ambition outweighs your talent" during the brief exchange, in which he also asked about Rossi's shoulder. Stoner later apologised for this comment. After this, tensions between both riders would ease once more when Stoner won his 2011 World Championship title whilst Rossi struggled on an underperforming Ducati for the rest of the season.
However, tensions would rise once more at the 2012 French race where Rossi and Stoner once again came to blows when they battled hard in the wet conditions, with Rossi passing and repassing Stoner on the first corners of the Le Mans track before he permanently overtook him on the last lap to cross the line in second place. When Rossi caught Stoner, he thought of his mistake in Jerez last year and was more cautious because of it.
- Jorge Lorenzo
In 2008, Jorge Lorenzo joined Rossi in the Factory Yamaha team which started a new rivalry. Initially, relationships were friendly; Rossi won the 2008 title while Lorenzo suffered two serious crashes at Shanghai and Laguna Seca which prevented any serious rivalries from ever starting to begin with, Rossi more concentrated on his rivalry with Casey Stoner at the time.
In 2009, Rossi and Lorenzo resumed hostilities with Rossi emerging as champion again. Over the course of the season, Rossi defeated Lorenzo in several tight battles - such as Assen, Sachsenring, Valencia and, most memorably, Lorenzo's home race in Catalunya. Both were battling hard on the Catalan circuit, with Lorenzo taking the lead on the final lap. Rossi tried to overtake him in the usual spots but failed, with many assuming Lorenzo was going to win the race. However, Rossi managed to pass him going into the final corner, where many assumed overtaking was impossible, to take an unlikely victory.
In 2010, Lorenzo finally emerged victorious in the championship battle after Rossi first injured his shoulder at a motocross accident two weeks before the 2010 Spanish race and then suffered a displaced compound fracture of his right tibia during a free practice fall at the 2010 Italian round, which caused him to miss four races. The most dramatic race of the season came at Motegi when Rossi fought hard with Lorenzo on the final laps of the race for third place, colliding with each other on more than one occasion. Rossi would win the battle, crossing the line in third.
After Rossi moved to the Factory Ducati team in 2011, Lorenzo stayed with the Factory Yamaha team and the rivalry cooled down when Rossi underperformed on the Ducati for two seasons while Lorenzo fought for the championship in both years, losing out to Stoner in 2011 but winning his second MotoGP title in 2012.
After Rossi returned to Yamaha in 2013, the rivalry resumed, and came to a boiling point in 2015. Rossi was on course to win his tenth overall title but was narrowly ahead of his teammate Lorenzo, who had closed the gap after the summer break. Going into the penultimate round in Malaysia, Rossi and Márquez had a falling out, causing Márquez to fall and Rossi to resume, finishing third. This decision led to the race direction imposing three penalty points to Rossi and demoting him to the back of the grid at the final round in Valencia. This was crucial for Rossi's title chances because Lorenzo started on pole and won the race while he crossed the line in fourth place, handing the title to Lorenzo by just five points. Rossi accused both Márquez and Lorenzo, calling this title "a Spanish stitch-up" and that "Having Marc Márquez as the bodyguard of Lorenzo is embarrassing".
After this, the relationship between Rossi and Lorenzo became sour, though would ease once more when Lorenzo moved to the Factory Ducati team in 2017 whilst Rossi stayed with the team. In the two seasons with Ducati, Lorenzo frequently struggled on the Ducati compared to teammate Andrea Dovizioso whilst Rossi still enjoyed some wins and podiums.
Mid to late 2010s: Marc Márquez and Maverick ViñalesEdit
- Marc Márquez
In more recent times, Rossi has been involved 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 and that it was a pleasure to battle with him. Their respect for each other took a turn during the 2015 season, starting with a late race collision whilst battling for the lead at the third round in Argentina. Márquez started from pole and created a gap at the opening stages of the race, but Rossi closed him down and a battle commenced. At turn 5, Márquez made contact with Rossi, which resulted in Márquez's bike hitting Rossi's rear tyre, causing him to fall. Márquez could not rejoin, and as a result, Rossi took his second win of the season. 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 on the final lap, Rossi picked the bike up and 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 penultimate round in Malaysia. Having had a poor season and being out of championship contention, Márquez won at Phillip Island whilst points leader Rossi was only fourth. A week later during the pre-event 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 had a heated battle with Rossi which lasted for several laps. Coming into turn 14, Rossi ran Márquez 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 three championship points and by starting 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 and Rossi called this championship a "Spanish stitch-up".
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 to remember Luis Salom, who died after crashing at high speed on the Catalan circuit. However, tempers would again flare two years later, once more 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. Márquez crossed the line in fifth but was penalised a further 30 seconds for the incident. After the race, Rossi accused Márquez that he "destroyed our sport" with his aggressive riding. He also said that "Marquez needs to get away from me and not look me in the face anymore".
After Argentina, the relationship between the two was still quite poor. At the 2018 San Marino race, Rossi refused to shake Márquez's hand and claimed that "We don’t need to shake the hand. We don’t have any problem". However, one year later at the 2019 Argentine GP, Rossi and Márquez once more shook each others' hand just before the podium ceremony, indicating that tensions between the riders have eased once more.
- Maverick Viñales
Compared to other rivals like Max Biaggi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez, Viñales is a rather new rival to Rossi. Ever since he moved up to the MotoGP class in 2015, Viñales has had few interactions with Rossi, especially during his first two seasons with the Factory Suzuki team.
However, when he moved from the Factory Suzuki to the Factory Yamaha team in 2017, the rivalry flared up immediately at the first two races of the season in both Qatar and Argentina, where Viñales won both races whilst Rossi finished third and second respectively. The biggest moment of their rivalry came at the Le Mans in 2017 when Rossi and Viñales battled hard for the lead, coming into contact with each other a few times. On the last lap, Rossi crashed out of the race and Viñales went on to win the race. After the race, Rossi said he felt "cheated" by Viñales because he cut the chicane and lost less time while Rossi was trying to pull a gap, even though he was penalised for a similar incident two races ago at the Americas. Another big moment came at the Australian GP with Rossi battling Viñales for second place for most of the race, including the final lap.
After the battle in Phillip Island, the rivalry seemed to cool down for most of the 2018 season, but became heated once more at Thailand 2018. Both riders fought for third place when Rossi tried a lunge up the inside of Viñales at the last corner on the last lap, which failed and nearly took out his teammate.
After Thailand, no more clashes or rivalries have taken place as of 2019.
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 activitiesEdit
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 gearEdit
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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 superstitious and 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 two 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 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, it had been sponsored by 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 caseEdit
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 keeps his personal life private, 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||–|
|2019||MotoGP||Yamaha YZR-M1||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||46||11||0||2||0||0||103*||5th*||–|
|Class||Seasons||1st GP||1st Podium||1st Win||Races||Wins||Podiums||Poles||FLaps||Pts||WChmps|
|125cc||1996–1997||1996 Malaysia||1996 Austria||1996 Czech Republic||30||12||15||5||9||432||1|
|250cc||1998–1999||1998 Japan||1998 Spain||1998 Netherlands||30||14||21||5||11||510||1|
|500cc||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||295||76||175||51||60||4660||6|
Races by yearEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)
* Season still in progress.
Suzuka 8 Hours resultsEdit
|2000||Castrol Honda||Colin Edwards||Honda VTR1000SPW||DNQ|
|2001||Team Cabin Honda||Colin Edwards||Honda VTR1000SPW||1st|
Complete WRC resultsEdit
|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
- Due to tobacco advertising, the team was known as Yamaha Factory Racing at the United States and Valencian Grands Prix.
- Record shared with Casey Stoner and Mika Kallio.
- Record shared with Masaki Tokudome, Tetsuya Harada, Mick Doohan, Max Biaggi and Tadayuki Okada.
- Record shared with Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan.
- Record shared with Àlex Crivillé.
- Record shared with Casey Stoner.
- Record shared with Casey Stoner.
- Record shared with Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan.
- Record shared with Àlex Crivillé.
- Record shared with Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Marc Márquez.
- Record shared with Marc Márquez.
- Record shared with Eddie Lawson.
- Record shared with Giacomo Agostini.
- Record shared with Tom Phillis, Arthur Wheeler, Tarquinio Provini, Jean-François Baldé, Sito Pons, Tadayuki Okada, Max Biaggi and Olivier Jacque.
- Record shared with Shinya Nakano, Daijiro Kato, Marco Melandri, Manuel Poggiali and Dani Pedrosa.
- Record shared with Loris Capirossi, Alessandro Gramigni, Dirk Raudies, Noboru Ueda, Garry McCoy and Stefano Perugini.
- Record shared with Masaki Tokudome, Haruchika Aoki, Noboru Ueda, Simone Sanna, Youichi Ui, Masao Azuma, Jorge Lorenzo and Héctor Barberá.
- Record shared with Masaki Tokudome.
- Cool Rossi crowned world champion Archived 28 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine, BBC.
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