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The fourth day of the third Yamaha VR46 Master Camp was full of surprises for the third edition riders and will forever be engraved in their memories as the day that they got to meet their idol, Valentino Rossi, at his VR46 Motor Ranch.
The day started off as normally, with the riders making an early start to complete a race simulator session and a running session at the Fisio Gym, with the intensity level being lowered a couple of steps from the days before by their trainer Carlo Casabianca and work-out buddies Moto3 rider Andrea Migno and Francesco Bagnaia, allowing the riders to recover from two intense days of training.
After stretching and a short 2km run, they headed to Tavullia, where two surprises were in store for the riders. Those had to wait a short while, however, because first it was time to go shopping at the only physical VR46 Store in the world (which also sells the Master Camp t-shirts and hoodies). The first surprise came in the form of a very tasty dessert. It was Canada‘s Tom Casas 18th birthday yesterday and the Bar, Ristorante e Pizzeria Da Rossi establishment celebrated the occasion with a homemade chocolate ice cream cake.
The riders finished their plates in no time, which was the cue for Official Fan Club Valentino Rossi Tavullia Vice President, Flavio Fratesi, to make a special visit to the Master Camp lunch table. He asked the riders to head over to the VR46 fan club headquarters just around the corner, where they got the chance to sign up as members, received a VR46 Fan Club membership card and were showered with gifts, including a t-shirt and a cardboard version of the iconic Tavullia road sign.
With bags full of merchandise and gifts, the riders made their way to the Motor Ranch for a very special main event. They were especially invited by VR46 to a private training session, to learn the theory of the techniques from flat track expert Marco Belli, whilst watching their VR46 Academy friends in action. But first it was time for the headline act.
Once they arrived at the VR46 Motor Ranch, the students immediately noticed that a big Master Camp tent was put up on the sidelines in the grass for them, offering a perfect view of the track's ovals. The protégés didn‘t have to wait long before the big event started. Rossi immediately made his way to the Master Camp tent upon his arrival, to shake hands with the students who he had been following from a distance over the last four days. He was more than happy to meet the six talents at his Motor Ranch and interested in their experiences of the week so far. (To find out what how the Master Camp started and what Yamaha's objectives are, watch an interview video with Motorsports Division & YMC MotoGP Group Leader, Kouichi Tsuji.)
After a photo opportunity and an exchange of gifts, it was time for some serious racing. The Master Camp riders couldn‘t believe their luck that they were sitting front row to watch their childhood hero, as well as the VR46 Academy riders, live in action, right in front of them, with Belli at their sides to explain the techniques behind it and answer all their questions. It surely was a day they will never forget. (To find out what helpful skills the students picked up at the go-kart training, read the Master Camp‘s fifth blog entry by Brandon Demmery.)
One of the students who really took Belli‘s advice to heart is Anggi Setiawan. He has set his heart on making his debut on a World Championship level. To get to know the Indonesian rider better, you can watch his Master Camp interview video.
Peerapong Boonlert: "Yesterday we had the opportunity to sign up for membership at the VR46 Fan Club in Tavullia and watch the riders practice at the Motor Ranch. I want to make the most of this experience and use it today, because I have a practice session at the ranch in the morning. The technical experience that I learned by watching the VR46 Academy riders and MotoGP rider Valentino yesterday is going to be really valuable."
Anggi Setiawan: "I was very happy to meet Valentino Rossi, who is of course my idol. It was also very interesting to see all the guys from the VR46 Riders Academy train at the Motor Ranch. It was very helpful to watch it together with Marco Belli. It will improve my rider skills and it showed me the right way to ride the best race lines and approach the right angles. I hope that today I can show off what I learned and I‘m looking forward to the lesson."
Muhammad Akid Bin Aziz: "The best part of yesterday was meeting Valentino, which was my dream! That said, I was also very interested in the lesson that Marco Belli gave us when we were watching Valentino and the VR46 Academy riders out on the track whilst they were training. It was a very useful experience to learn from Marco the right angles, lines and the right way to approach the ranch."
Shota Ite: "This morning we again went out for a run and we also did some stretching. I will definitely continue to do the stretching at home, because I really like it. I enjoyed the shopping at the VR46 Store before lunch and I got pretty emotional when I met Valentino later that afternoon, because he‘s my idol. Someday I will overtake him on the track!"
Brandon Demmery: "We had a gym session yesterday morning, which was quite a slow session as we have a big day today and we‘ve had a big week so far. We just did a short 2km run and then we headed off to Da Rossi to have a beautiful lunch and celebrate Tom‘s birthday. Then we went to the Motor Ranch and watched all the VR46 Academy riders and Rossi ride. It was a truly amazing experience, to see how fast you can actually go around the track on those bikes. Those guys are on another level of anything I‘ve ever watched before. It was a great experience to walk the track with Marco Belli and him pointing out to us why they are so fast. It should help a lot for today."
Tomas Casas: "Yesterday was my birthday and it was absolutely great and unforgettable, with a lot to take away from it. This whole week has been phenomenal. We did a light gym session yesterday, to recover from the past two days of hard training. Then we went to the VR46 Store in Tavullia, where we were able to get some of Valentino‘s apparel and the Master Camp had a huge surprise for me. They got me a big cake and I‘m very grateful that they celebrated that, it was a very unique moment. Having my birthday here with all the Master Camp riders and staff means a lot to me. Afterward we went to the Motor Ranch, were I could finally meet Vale, which was a very special moment, especially it being my birthday. I had just as much fun spectating as I do when I‘m riding at the ranch. Valentino and the VR46 Rider Academy are incredibly fast. Marco Belli pointed out some key points on the track and the markers that the guys use whilst riding at the ranch. It was a ton of fun to watch them and I look forward to getting back out on the ranch today."