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Newly crowned 500cc World Champion Valentino Rossi catches his breath and speaks to

Newly crowned 500cc World Champion Valentino Rossi catches his breath and speaks to

The moments after the 500 race at Sunday´s Qantas Australian Grand Prix were understandably chaotic. Valentino Rossi had just been crowned 500cc World Champion, and arguably the most charismatic and popular rider of the recent era was swamped in a throng of journalists and fans. When the dust settled, the 22-year-old took time out to speak to Was that the best race of your life?

Valentino Rossi: Maybe, because it was very important and also great fun. It was fantastic for all the riders, we had a great fight. I also liked Donington very much but maybe this was the best.

mgp: What were the other key points of this season?

VR: For me the major moment was Brno. That was a very difficult race, there was ten points between me and Max and the season was at a critical point. I had also just returned from the Suzuka 8 hour and I was feeling very tired. To win there was huge and was without doubt the most important victory of the season.

mgp: How does the feeling you have now compare to when you won the 125 and 250 World Championships?

VR: It´s different because when you win the 500 World Championship it feels like you´ve won the most important thing in the world on a motorbike. The 125 and 250 titles were also very emotional moments for me, but even though it hasn´t sunk in yet I´m sure this will top both of those.

mgp: Will you accept the number 1 plate or keep the number 46?

VR: I want to keep the number 46 for sure. I don´t even like the number 1. It´s for the fans and all the people who watch the races. I am number 46. Honda have said it´s okay and now I will ask the organisation. I hope it won´t be a problem. Barry Sheene did it!

mgp: How have Jerry Burgess and his mechanics compared to your other World Championship winning teams?

VR: I have always had very good teams. With Mauro Noccioli in 125 it felt just like a family because I was with him for such a long, long time. With Rossano Brazzi in 250 the feeling was impressive. I like him very much and again it was like my family. For sure there was more problems with the language and things were different with Jerry and the guys. The trust with them is very high now though, not just with Jerry but with all the guys – they are fantastic. They are more quiet than the Italian teams, more relaxed, it´s like another way of life. Of course they also have great experience and that has helped me so much over the past two years.

mgp: You have already said that you don´t know if you´ll ride a 2 or 4 stroke next season, but what about beyond that? Do you still hold the dream of being a rally driver?

VR: When I was young I started racing go-karts because I wanted to become a Formula 1 driver. Then I realised I was faster with the bikes so I changed (laughs). No, that´s not the truth. I like cars a lot but I don´t know. Next year will be interesting because of the 4 strokes and I want to try and win it. It will be a strange year and we´ll decide what to do next when it finishes.

500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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