CIAO ROSSI!
Auto Today|September 2021
In a career that has spanned 26 seasons, Valentino Rossi has rewritten the record book. He triumphed in all classes, took nine world championships, watched rivals arrive with gusto and leave destroyed by his talent and resilience

Grand Prix motorcycle racing may have been the premier class of motorcycle road racing events for most part of the last century, but the ‘Rossiverse’ created a gravitational pull of its own, sucking fans and interest from across the planet if not the solar system. He’s not just an idol to his followers’, but is a man most MotoGP riders, Formula 1 drivers, rally drivers, and road racers revere. The Doctor’s astonishing achievements over the years’, his incomparable zeal for racing, and unrivalled magnetism makes up a huge part of MotoGP’s heritage, earning the Italian, who is recognized the world over, as the “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time).

The fairy tale began in 1996, when a skinny, bright-eyed 17-yearold Rossi lined up 13th on the grid in Sepang, Malaysia. Riding Aprilia’s RS125, Rossi earned himself a top 6 finish, catching the eye of the spectators. A series of exhilarating performances followed by his first podium at the Austrian GP, and then a maiden victory at the Czech GP two weeks later, Rossi was making a name for himself as the rider to look out for. But, it was the following year when Rossi ultimately came into his own blowing the competition away to take home the 125cc World Championship, bagging 11 wins in as few as 15 Grand Prix races. Next year, Aprilia promoted him to 250cc, and started the season with three podiums in the opening five races. His first win came at the Dutch GP, where Rossi ignited the rookie’s Championship charge and despite four successive wins; the then 19-year old had to settle for 2nd position in the overall standings, losing out to the much-experienced Loris Capirossi.

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