Even when you’ve ruled the world nine times, broken records and raced in the premier class for two decades, there remain some dreams to be realised. For Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), that was to ride his Yamaha M1 through the streets of his hometown, Tavullia, and before the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, it came true.
Beginning at the Ranch – the seminal home of the VR46 Riders Academy and training grounds developed and designed man himself – this was more than just a parade lap, it was an event. And so, after getting suited and booted and gearing up for the road ahead, the nine-time World Champion set off from the quiet, vine-lined hillsides of the venue and rode out towards his hometown.
The story began on the very same streets, but back then Rossi and his friends were on scooters, not one of the fastest prototype motorcycles in the world. A lot has changed since then, but plenty things remain the same – and one of them is most definitely the passion the area has for motorcycling and for their most famous son, which was most definitely on full display once the number 46 arrived in the town centre.
Packed to the rafters, the piazzale lined by fans and a sea of yellow stretching down the streets, the scene was a sight to behold as the ‘The Doctor’ made his way into the crowd, greeting the fans and turning dream into reality for both himself and many of those who flooded the town to see him. But this was just the beginning, with a couple more stops yet to come.
The next one was VR46 headquarters, located just outside the town centre of Tavullia but still very much on home turf. And from there, of course, there was only one place to end up: the classic Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Once at the track, speed was back on the agenda and the race weekend on the horizon. Misano is the first track Rossi rode, just a stone’s throw from his hometown, and the blast around on the M1 was a fitting end to the homecoming lap of honour – as was the wheelie pulled all the way down the main straight, bringing the event to a close before the switch soon flicks to race mode.
Tune in for the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini on the 13th to 15th September, when Rossi gets back on track – this time to race. The lights go out for MotoGP™ at 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
To see the best photos from the day, click the 'view gallery' button below: