Races involving motorcycles tend to be a little less popular than competitions like NASCAR or Formula 1. However, these races are just as enjoyable and feature some beautiful bikes. It also takes a lot of skill to compete. Few have mastered that art like Valentino Rossi.
After a long career in motorcycle racing, Racer reports that Rossi is transitioning toward racecar driving. What brought this about after Rossi’s years of accomplishments? Here’s why many people regard Rossi as one of the most talented motorcycle racers in history.
Valentino Rossi’s impressive career
Valentino Rossi was born in Italy and began racing karts when he was just five years old. He won a regional kart championship at age 11 and won several more races the following year. When he was 22, Rossi would get his first motorcycle lesson from prolific Grand Prix racer Paolo Pieri.
Rossi made his debut in the 1996 Grand Prix season, grabbing a few victories a few years later. He won the Grand Prix title in 1997 and dominated these races for two more years. He won the 500cc World Championship in 2000 and the 8 Hours of Suzuka races for Honda.
He would race for Honda for four years in the MotoGP championships, winning the title each time. He left to race for Yamaha in 2006 but lost the title that year due to an accident. He was reportedly on the verge of retirement until he made another victory in 2008. Despite suffering from a broken leg in 2010, he still scored some victories and got third place.
Rossi began racing for Ducati the following year but would return to Yamaha after many discouraging losses. Despite a rocky start, he finished the 2013 Grand Prix in third place and would hold second place for three years. His performance began to falter leading up to the end of his contract with Yamaha in 2020. He didn’t have any wins in 2018, suffering a collision and multiple close races.
Even during his slow years, Rossi distinguished himself from other racers with his amiable nature and amusing victory stunts. Top Gear showcases him in his early years dressed as Robin Hood and riding with a blow-up turkey on his bike. Even with no wins in 2007, some of his fans indulged him and dressed like bowling pins for him to topple.
Why is Valentino Rossi retiring from MotoGP?
Earlier this month, Rossi announced that racecar driving would be the next step in his career. He said that he had always loved the idea of car racing, though not as much as motorcycling. He expressed interest in trying the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where drivers do laps for a solid day.
Despite his decline, Valentino Rossi still developed a legacy during his time with MotoGP. He has kept the same number throughout his career and is the only racer to compete in over 400 Grand Prix races. He won nine Grand World Prix Championships in total, many when he was still considered a rookie.
Will Rossi have a smooth transition?
Although both sports have the same basic strategies, racing a motorcycle is easier in many ways. A racecar, while much lighter than civilian vehicles, still requires more force to accelerate and maneuver.
Fortunately, Rossi has already had some experience with racecars throughout his career. He got a few starts in the World Rally Championship and even finished the Gulf 12 Hours with a Ferrari. Wherever Rossi’s career takes him next, we’re confident that his skills will continue to shine.