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Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi is a genuine MotoGP phenomenon, having written himself into racing folklore over the last few years. The Italian is now a major media star with a young, exciting and cool image that perfectly matches his exploits on the track. His incredible career stats have seen him dominate the MotoGP class in recent times and he will once again start next season as the overwhelming favourite to retain his world title.

Rossi burst onto the World Championship scene back in 1996 and scored his first victory that same season in the Czech Republic. The following year he demonstrated his undoubted class by running away with the 125cc title, winning 11 races and making it onto the podium a total of 13 times, missing out on a top three finish in just two races.

On making the inevitable move to the 250s, Rossi took to life in the quarter-litre class like a duck to water. In that first season he managed five victories (nine podiums in total), as he finished runner-up in the championship. Twelve months later he went one better as he comfortably took the 250 crown, giving him a second world title.

After his outstanding spell with Aprilia in the lower categories, Rossi teamed up with Honda as he moved to the premier class in 2000. He made the podium in only his fourth race in the 500s and a further nine top-three finishes saw him end the season in second place overall.

Since then he has gone on to establish himself as the undoubted number one in the MotoGP class. Season after season, race after race, he has proved almost invincible with the change in engine specifications from 500cc to 990cc having no impact on his dominance.

After four years with the Japanese factory, Rossi decided to part company with Honda for a new challenge and chance to demonstrate that it was his ability and not the manufacturer's bike that had brought him such success. In a decision that caused shockwaves around the MotoGP paddock, the Italian opted to join Yamaha for the 2004 season, a factory that had not won the premier class title for over a decade. Despite his machine being inferior to that of Honda, Rossi's awesome talent shone through once again and he retained his world championship crown despite a determined challenge from Spaniard Sete Gibernau.

Last term Rossi was more dominant than ever as he took the seventh world title of his career. Although his main rivals did not perform as well as they would have hoped, ‘The Doctor' was kept on toes by the emerging stars of the MotoGP class; however, none could seriously rival the undisputed king of the World Championship who will again be the man to beat next season.

MotoGP, 2006

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