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There’s just no keeping VR46 down. During a tense season where the Doctor scored a top five championship finish in motorcycle racing’s premier class – nailing six podiums and a win – Valentino Rossi wrapped things up in fine style by taking a record-breaking sixth victory at the 2017 Monza Rally Show.
Drama struck initially however, where after stage two, Valentino was handed a 10-second penalty; due to his 2016-spec Ford Fiesta RS WRC being found to be 7kg underweight. Undeterred the nine time World Champion battled his way through the nine icy stages on the legendary Italian bankings to win the penultimate stage and take the top spot in the overall standings, finishing 5.7 seconds clear of second placed Marco Bonanomi.
Valentino’s brother Luca Marini – currently racing in the Moto2 World Championship as a VR46 Academy rider – made his debut at the Monza Rally Show this year. The 20 year old, who piloted a R5 class Ford Fiesta, finished 11th in his class and 26th overall in his first competitive two-to-four wheel switch.
“This was one of the most hard fought Monza Rallies that I have raced at, because there were four cars able to win, and everybody was close right up until the end. Unfortunately the team made a small mistake with the weight of the car on Friday. We didn’t calculate for the lights on the front of the car. It was a stupid mistake! When I stopped after stage two and they said I was under weight and I got a 10 second penalty – I said it was over. But I gave it maximum attack and risked a lot, especially in the second to last stage. It’s a shame to not get the Master’s stage result, but for me the more important, so I’m happy! The Monza Rally Show is always great fun, because it’s a real race where you can drive these types of cars fast – but at the end you can enjoy it too with less pressure at the end of the season. All the team is very happy because after this week we start our winter holiday and there’s always a great atmosphere. To enjoy it, you still have to try your maximum, and the challenge is very difficult and the level his very high. Especially in the last few years the event has grown up a lot, and there are real rally drivers here now to have a lot of fun competing against. This is our unique team at Monza so it’s something special, and it wouldn’t be the same to do the rally alone. Of course driving with the Brivios and Uccio is very funny; because you can talk a lot about the technical things but at the same time still make a lot of jokes if you’re faster or slower than them! This year I also have my brother Luca because he came to me and said 'I want to come, I want to come’ so I organised it. He’s fast, he’s enjoying it, and I think he’ll keep doing it in the future. We speak a lot, with Davide and Uccio but especially with Luca, to try and share the secrets. It’s his first experience with a rally car and he’s already fast so I’m happy and he’s happy. But the contract is that he can be fast but not as fast as me!”
“The most important result is that I had a lot of fun this weekend! The car is incredible and was very very fast and challenging to drive. Also my times weren’t so bad. On Friday I think I was a little bit too excited and I lost some time by making small mistakes, but after that things settled down for me. I finished 11th in my class and 26th overall, which I am very happy about. In the Masters Show I took the chequered flag – and wanted to put on a small show for the fans. I took the corner at the wrong speed and when I pulled the handbrake I touched the tyre barrier and had a small crash! My brother told me that if you don’t do this in the Masters Show during your first year, then you are not a rally driver. I just hope to be here next year now. I need to talk with my boss – my brother – about coming again and maybe bringing a WRC car instead of an R5!”
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