If there’s a MotoGP superhero, his cape is yellow, and he’s known as Vale’. Well, actually, his name is Valentino Rossi, and he has raced the last MotoGP race of his career. He now carries the title of “ex-MotoGP” racer and joins other World Champions in retirement. It’s the end of an era that saw Rossi taking a World Championship crown nine times. While Giacomo Agostini has more World Championships to his name, it is Rossi who helped launch MotoGP into the amazing spectacle that it is today.
His skill and charisma marked his presence on the MotoGP grid. It seemed he always had a ready smile for the fans. And, for many to them, his victory celebrations were almost as much fun to watch as his amazing skill.
But to his competitors, Rossi was a fierce challenger. At times, Rossi could run away from the field. Other times, he would lie in wait, studying the rider in front while figuring out his weaknesses. Then, when the time was right, Rossi would pounce, and the pass was made. But other times, the pressure from Rossi’s calculated attacks from behind caused riders to make mistakes or outright fall off giving Rossi the position and sometimes the win.
Rossi is also known for the fierce rivalries that he created. Not only were they against riders riding on other motorcycle brands, but there were also great rivalries between teammates. World-class riders like Gibernau, Biaggi, Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Stoner, and many others (not in any particular order) at one time or another, suffered the wrath of Rossi’s amazing skill, tactics, and racing smarts.
With Rossi’s retirement, a new era for MotoGP begins. But gone is one of the most charismatic riders that ever swung a leg over a MotoGP machine. Grazie Mille Vale’, I’ll never forget your 26-year gift of racing excitement and smiles.