There is only one number 46! On Saturday at the Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley, MotoGP™ Legend Valentino Rossi returned to the emblematic Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello as the number 46 was retired from use in the MotoGP™ class.
On the grid before qualifying began, the ceremony saw FIM President Jorge Viegas and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta present the 'Doctor' with a special trophy of the number he rode to unprecedented levels of recognition, creating a global sporting icon in the process.
Rossi took nine World Championships, 115 wins and 235 podiums across all classes as he played a key role in redefining the sport for millions of fans around the world, with the number 46 coming to signify one thing and one thing only: Valentino Rossi. Retiring from MotoGP™ at the end of 2021, the 'Doctor' is now joined by his racing number as a spectator of the world’s fastest motorcycle racing Championship.
"It is a mixture of feelings, from one side, it is very sad that I've finished, I've stopped, and also the 46 it is retired from MotoGP. On the other side, it is a great feeling because it was a long story and an unforgettable career full of great moments, so I am very proud of this. Today it was good, here in Mugello, because it is always a special place, it is always the home of the Italian GP, our home GP, and it is also good because I have always raced with the 46 from the first year. 46 for me means a lot, because it was the number of Graziano, of my father, when he finished second in the 250cc Championship. I am very happy because it is a sign, it is not just a number.
"Italy is always in the top in MotoGP, specially at this moment because also the bikes, Aprilia and Ducati are very strong, and we have a lot of Italian riders, we have Bastianini, that won a lot of races, but also, we have a lot of riders from our academy, Pecco is very strong, but this weekend also Luca and Bezz are fast, we have also Morbidelli, we have also young Italian riders that are very strong so I think that I can be quiet for the future.
"For sure I miss it, because it has been my life for 26 years, to follow the championship around the world, but it is good. I am happy, I do not miss it a lot because it was also very long, very stressful, so now I am a bit more relaxed and I think that it was the right time!"