Valentino Rossi has arguably become the greatest legend in the history of motorbike racing. His success is matched only by his popularity – as he has been the main force behind the increasing worldwide reach of MotoGP.
Rossi began life motoring round on scooters in the vicinity of his Italian home. But, as with most racers on two wheels, he started young, taking his first world championship in 125cc aged 18.
‘The Doctor’ then graduated up through the ranks, winning every new title at his second attempt including the 500cc crown in 2001. He remained the king of the sport until 2005 in spite of a switch to Yamaha in 2004.
After two bleak years of finishing ‘only’ 2nd and 3rd, he returned to the summit in 2008 and retained the title yet again in 2009. All the while his yellow-clothed fan base has grown around the world, where he is now instantly recognisable. Only injury – his broken leg in 2010 – has stopped the run.
Believe it or not, Rossi began his career on four wheels, racing in kart championships around Italy. His love for cars continues as he has regularly tested a Formula 1 Ferrari and competed in several WRC events, having received coaching from Colin McRae.
His best result to date in The Race Of Champions was finishing as runner-up for Italy in the ROC Nations Cup in 2000. He also wowed the Toyota team during his first ever practice run in their world rally car at the same event…
- 7-time MotoGP/500cc world champion (2001-2005, 2008-2009)
The only rider to win titles on 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP
Over 100 top flight victories to his name
He has won at least one race in 15 consecutive seasons
2009: Took his 100th top flight win at Assen in Holland
2004: Won his third MotoGP title immediately after a switch to Yamaha
2003: He made the podium in every race en route to the championship
2002: Secured the first ever MotoGP world title
2001: Became 500cc world champion for the first time, riding for Honda
2000: Graduated to 500cc world championship, runner-up in title race
1999: Won 250cc world championship
1998: Moved up to the 250cc world championship
1997: Took 125cc world championship
1996: Began racing with Aprilia in 125cc, won first race at Brno
The Race of Champions Highlights
- Years contested: 2000, 2001
2000: ROC Nations Cup finalist alongside Emanuele Pirro and Miki Biasion