Valentino Rossi: A Doctor Who Never Ages

Who is the Greatest Racer of All Times in MotoGP? Your answers might vary, but in your heart and brain you will not be able to ignore Valentino Rossi. Even though the Italian might be 40-years old, he is still considered a monster on track. His experience far exceeds anyone who competes him at this stage of his career. The Italian Legend has won nine Grand Prix World Championships to his name, including seven of which are in the premier class and has completed over 400+ races. The inspiring fact about him is, the man is still winning MotoGP races and craves for more Championships.

Today, we present to you a list of achievements of arguably the most successful racer in the history of MotoGP.

A Long Career

Rossi started racing when he was as young as five. He Moved to Tavullia, where he used to race karts designed by his father Graziano Rossi( A motorcycle Racer). Due to hos Mother’s concern, Valentino Took up Kart Racing instead of Bikes, he took to minimoto where he won many regional level races.

After racing karts, his general progression would be to shift in formula 1 direction, that did not happen as kart racing was an expensive sport, the karts became difficult to manage.

With the Help of his dad, Claudio Castiglioni and Claudio Lusuardi, In 1993, Rossi finally joined the Cagiva Sport production team and rode Cagiva Mito 125cc motorcycle, he switched to Aprilia in 1995 and finished third in the Italian 125cc Championship.

125cc Class

The 1996 championship season marks the debut of Valentino Rossi. He rode an AGV Aprilia RS125R, managed to finish 9th in the season affected by the several crashes he had in the season.

The 1997 season became an important one for the Doctor, as he moved from AGV team to the official Nastro Azzurro Aprilia Team, then went on to dominate the season. He won 11 out of 15 races and obliterated his rivals to win the 125cc World Championships.

Throughout the season, he dressed up as Robin Hood and carried a blow-up doll. This fun-loving side of the rider increased his popularity to another level.

250cc Class

After winning the 125cc title in 1997, Rossi moved up to 250cc Class in 1998. He found it a bit tough adapting to the bike initially, in the end though he went on to finish in second position in his first season, 23 points short of the eventual champion Loris Capirossi.

In his second season, Rossi became the sole Rider of the official Aprilia Grand Prix Racing team, he dominated the 250cc class throughout the season and won the title in Rio de Janeiro with one round left. The Italian finished the season in first place with 309 points, granting him his first 250cc world championship title and his second title overall.

500cc Class

Rossi was rewarded for his World Championship win as he signed up to ride for Honda in 2000, which was considered the Ultimate Class in World Championship motorcycle racing, the 500cc Championship. He was personally mentored by Mick Doohan, a Five-time retired 500cc World Champion himself, for his first year at Honda. It was also the first time Rossi raced against Max Biaggi, His greatest Rival in years to come. The Doctor finished second in his rookie season in the 500cc class with 209 points.

The following year, in 2001, Rossi managed to dominate the whole season by winning 11 races and finishing only 3 times off the podium. Rossi won his first 500cc title with 325 points and third title overall, he went ahead 106 points ahead of Biaggi, who became Rossi's main rival during the season. 

MotoGP Class

The inaugural year MotoGP Class was 2002, with the introduction new bikes, riders experienced teething problems getting used to the new bikes of 990cc four-stroke MotoGP class. Rossi dominated again by winning 8 out of 9 races and eventually taking the tally to 11 by the end of the season. He clinched his first Top Level title and fourth title overall.

The next year was more or less the same for Rossi’s rivals as he scored consistent podiums and dominated the whole season. Rossi won the 2003 title in Malaysia, his second in the MotoGP class, third in the top class and fifth title overall, with two races remaining.

In 2004, Rossi made a shift from Honda to Factory Yamaha and signed a two-year contract. Although the bikes changed, Rossi remained the same and delivered consistent performance, despite crashing twice in the season. Rossi finished first with 304 points to Gibernau's 257, with Max Biaggi third with 217 points. He clinched his third MotoGP, fourth premier class and sixth Championship title at the penultimate race of the season at Phillip Island, beating Gibernau by just 0.097 seconds.

If this wasn’t dominance, then in the year 2005, Rossi and Factory Yamaha proved to be even more dominant than the year before. Rossi won 11 races, including 3 rain affected races at Shanghai, Le Mans and Donington. Rossi finished the season in first place with a total of 367 points, a staggering 147 points ahead of second-place finisher Marco Melandri and captured his fourth MotoGP, fifth premier class and seventh overall championship in Sepang with four races remaining.

After winning back to back five MotoGP titles, Rossi ran a little out of luck in 2006, as he lost his title to Nicky Hayden by just 5 points due to a final race crash on lap five. Rossi called his fall "a disaster" but congratulated Nicky on winning title.

Rossi came back in 2007 with a lesser powered bike of 800cc (from 990cc). The Italian Maestro wasn’t used to the new bike and it troubled him the whole season, eventually leading him to finish third with 241 points. On the other hand, Stoner dominated the season, winning ten races to take his first title, 125 points clear of second place Dani Pedrosa.  This was Rossi's lowest championship position since his first season in 1996.

After frustrating loses from past two years, Rossi again proved to be consistent on sheets in 2008 and clinch his fifth MotoGP, sixth premier 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, emphasizing his lack of titles in the last two years.

In 2009, the Italian again dragged the title race till the end. A mere 6 wins overall was enough for him to clinch his sixth MotoGP, seventh top class and ninth overall title. 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.

This was his last championship win in MotoGP. He finished third in 2010, 150 points behind his teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Later he made a move to Ducati in 2011, where he spent frustrating 2 years and finished seventh and sixth respectively. This was the first time Rossi had winless seasons in his entire career.

After a shameful two-year loss in Ducati, Rossi moved back to Yamaha in 2013. He finished second overall in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Rossi finished fifth in 2017 and third in 2018. As of 2019, Rossi stands in the eighth position. He is currently contracted under Yamaha to race until 2020.

Rivalries

The Italian Maestro has had his share of rivalries in his two-decade long career. Rossi had it coming as he was extremely focused on winning. From Loris Capirossi and Max Biaggi in 2000s, Casey Stoner and his own teammate from Yamaha Jorge Lorenzo in 2010, to his current hot rivalry with Marc Marquez, Rossi has fought nerve-wracking battles on the track with them. Some leading to crashes and others to controversies.

Nicknames

Since his initial days as a racer, Rossi has been called different names. ‘The Doctor’ is one of the prominent ones as you can see this printed on his bike as well as his suit.

Rossi has always raced with the number 46 in his MotoGP career. He is known as “VR46” in popular media.

Typically, a World Championship winner is awarded the No. 1 sticker for the next season. He never changed his bike’s number, as the world champion though, he has worn the No. 1 shirt, on the shoulder of his racing leathers.

The Italian racer is also an owner of a Professional Motorbike Racing Team “Sky Racing Team by VR46” which competes in Moto2 and Moto3 Class.

To Conclude:

What an we say, for us he is the greatest racer to ever grace the highest Motor Racing Class, the sheer no of achievements he has managed to procure throughout his career has made him a legend among his peers. We appreciate the fact, that even at the age of 40, Rossi is determined to win another title. He believes that he still has the energy and motivation in him to pursue his career further. With the numbers he has already embedded into the sport, he has surely created history and will be remembered as the greatest racers to ever race. One thing that goes without saying is that there can never be a racer like him and he for the rest of the world, he is GOAT (Greatest of All Time).

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