MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi turns 41 today and is practically an elder statesman. However, he has continued to prove that age is just a number. Although Marc Marquez is the current MotoGP superstar, the Rossi name and the iconic #46 is always a crowd-puller.
Of, course, being 41-years old, the Italian has had a long and successful career. To be precise, he not only has a 125cc and a 250cc championship, but 7 MotoGP world championships, a grand total of 9. The Italian veteran has also completed 402 races in his long and decorated career. Lately though, Honda rider Marc Marquez has upstaged Rossi and the entire grid in the past few years.
Other threats have emerged, like teammate Maverick Vinales, and satellite rider, Fabio Quartararo. However, Rossi continues to remain strong. So, here are some of the best races involving Valentino Rossi.
Top 5 Biggest Moments of Valentino Rossi
2001 Australian GP
This race sealed Rossi’s first premier class title as he staved off Max Biaggi’s efforts to thwart him. It also turned out to be Rossi’s 500cc title, as it was renamed to the MotoGP class. After a massive dogfight throughout the race, things came to a head on the final lap.
Valentino Rossi executed a gutsy overtake, a few corners from the end of the race to take the lead. He somehow managed to defend the lead right up till the finish line, a mere 0.013 seconds ahead of his compatriot. With this win at Phillip Island, Rossi bagged his first MotoGP title and heralded a new era.
2004 South African GP
After three consecutive titles with Repsol Honda, Valentino Rossi decided that he wanted a new challenge. So, he joined the struggling Yamaha team, to the surprise of many. The factory team had gone without a win for more than a year. However, Rossi clearly knew what he was doing, and practically rebuilt the team himself.
At the South African Grand Prix in Phakisa, the Italian was stuck battling arch-rival Max Biaggi once again. Rossi’s triumph also was a sign of things to come, and he eventually went on to take another title. He also made history by becoming the first rider to win back-to-back premier class races and titles with different manufacturers.
2005 Spanish GP
At the opening round of the 2005 season, Rossi adopted a ‘take no prisoners’ stance at the Spanish Grand Prix. Unfortunately, this tactic angered his rival, and home hero,Sete Gibernau. Gibernau was forced off the track in the final corner on the last lap, courtesy a gutsy move.
Their rivalry began two seasons ago, with Rossi beating Gibernau on both occasions. However, Gibernau kept coming back, until this race arguable sealed his fate. Naturally, the Spanish crowd unleashed a wave of anger, and the boos could be heard for miles around.
2008 Laguna Seca GP
Rossi’s newest rival after Gibernau and Biaggi, was Ducati star, Casey Stoner. The two went hammer and tongs, until things got heated at the 2008 US Grand Prix. The duo battled it out and culminated in the now famous manoeuvre that Rossi executed on Stoner at The Corkscrew.
Rossi snatched the lead and soaked up the pressure until there were nine laps to go. Stoner bottled it and ran off track while trying to catch Rossi, and The Doctor went unchallenged. Of course, and nobody could forget when Stoner delivered one of the biggest sledges. After Rossi crashed into him at Jerez, Stoner told him in the garage, “Your ambition outweighed your talent.”
2009 Catalunya GP
The 2009 MotoGP season introduced a new Rossi rival, in the form of his younger teammate, Jorge Lorenzo. Right off the bat, the young Spaniard pushed the experienced Italian hard in his second year in MotoGP. At the Catalunya GP the pair gave every single MotoGP fan, their money’s worth in a titanic battle. The fight ws so fierce, that there was nothing to choose between them until the last corner on the very last lap.
The lead changed three times on that last lap of the circuit, until Rossi threw caution into the wind at the final corner. They had pushed one another to the absolute limit, and it was a true display of mastery from Rossi to clinch what had seemed an improbable win.