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Valentino Rossi profile

By Dan Moakes
February 22 2006

Valentino Rossi
nationality · Italian
born · 16 February 1979
grand prix début · 1996

“The Doctor” is easily among the most successful Grand Prix riders of all time, with titles in each of the five capacity classes he has taken on, moving all the way up in the space of just seven years, and then staying on top. At the time of writing, he has 103 race victories to his name, second only to Giacomo Agostini. The son of former 250cc GP winner Graziano, Valentino Rossi is a charismatic and popular figure who has raised the profile of motorbike racing in recent seasons, not least by switching from dominant Honda to under-achieving Yamaha and taking the title first time out. Rossi has also demonstrated an interest in four-wheeled competition, and has had outings in a rally car as well as test drives in an F1 Ferrari, but he has also said that bikes are his enduring passion - and the record books will be rewritten if he continues for much longer

Valentino Rossi 2004 - photo by
photo by

First go-kart

Kart racing début

Regional Kart Champion, with nine wins

5th in Italian Junior Kart championship; made bike racing début on Minimotos

Italian Minibike Endurance Champion

12th in Italian 125cc Sport Production championship, with Cagiva

Italian 125cc Sport Production Champion, with Cagiva

Italian 125cc Champion; 3rd in European 125cc championship; 11th in Spanish Open 125cc championship - all with Aprilia

1996 Scuderia AGV, number 46 Aprilia
In his first Grand Prix season, aged seventeen, Valentino was ninth overall in the 125cc series, with 111 points and seven top six finishes. His first visit to the podium came in round ten, with third in Austria, and he won the race at Brno next time out
Also 10th in the European 125cc championship, with Aprilia

1997 Nastro Azzurro Aprilia, number 46 Aprilia
Rossi’s second year on 125s was dominant, with eleven wins from fifteen races. He also scored a second, a third and a sixth, to complete a 321-point record for the category, and his first World Championship title

1998 Nastro Azzurro Aprilia, number 46 Aprilia
The 1998 season was Rossi’s ‘learning’ year in the 250cc series, and he finished second as early as rounds three, four and five. His first win came at Assen in round seven, and four more at the end of the year took him to second overall, on 201 points, between rivals Loris Capirossi and Tetsuya Harada

1999 Aprilia Grand Prix Racing, number 46 Aprilia
As in the 125s, Valentino’s second 250 season saw him setting the pace, and his nine race wins meant he duly wrapped up a second GP championship. He was on the podium in twelve of sixteen races, and scored 309 points in total

2000 Nastro Azzurro Honda, number 46 Honda
For 2000, Rossi moved onto a works-supported 500cc Honda, engineered by the highly successful Jerry Burgess. Once again it was a learning process, but he was already finishing third in rounds four (where he qualified second), five and seven. A late season run, including wins in Britain and Brazil, saw him emerge as the nearest challenger to champion elect Kenny Roberts. A final tally of 209 points placed him second behind the American Suzuki rider
Also qualified sixth for the Suzuka 8 Hours, with Colin Edwards

2001 Nastro Azzurro Honda, number 46 Honda
By his second year, Valentino was ready to take the 500 title. Despite a strong challenge from compatriots Max Biaggi and Loris Capirossi, he racked up four pole positions and had thirteen podiums, including eleven wins. In the end he was over 100 points clear - 325 to Biaggi’s 219 - and went down in history as the last man to win a 500cc-only World Championship
Also won the Suzuka 8 Hours, with Colin Edwards and Manabu Kamada, and set fastest lap

2002 Repsol Honda Team, number 46 Honda
For 2002, Rossi and Burgess were brought into the full factory Honda team, which had produced the RC211V bike for the new 990cc four-stroke GP1 regulations. Despite four-stoke opposition from Max Biaggi, Tohru Ukawa and others, Valentino was once again the top rider. Pole positions at seven venues were converted into another eleven victories, including a run of seven straight that was only ended by a tyre failure. This time 355 points was 140 clear of his nearest rival!

2003 Repsol Honda, number 46 Honda
As ever, Rossi was the man to beat in Grands Prix, finishing first, second or third in each of the sixteen races during the year, and wrapping up another title. Although Sete Gibernau stayed in touch for some time, Valentino had plenty of experience in making the decisive break, and is still regarded as the talent by which the rest are jugded

Valentino Rossi 2004 - photo by
photo by

2004 Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha, number 46 Yamaha
For 2004, Rossi’s challenge was to take Yamaha back to the top, and that is what he did, despite Honda’s apparent performance advantage. A winner first time out, he was first home nine times in total, with five pole positions, and was always in the top four bar two non-finishes.

Valentino Rossi 2005 - photo © Getty Images
photo © Getty Images

2005 Yamaha Gauloises Team, number 46 Yamaha
Starting as the favourite for 2005, success for the fourth time meant that Valentino at that time remained the only man to take a 990cc MotoGP class title. The Yamaha M1 was improved, but not superior to the rest and, with a lack of consistency from his Honda rivals, Rossi returned to dominant form. To complete the journey, his performances in torrential rain also proved unbeatable. There were eleven race wins, plus five other podium places, and a record breaking 367 points - as well as five poles and six fastest laps

2006 Camel Yamaha Team, number 46 Yamaha
Rossi remained clearly the man to beat, but luck turned against him for a change during 2006. The new Yamaha behaved unpredictably at first and, with non-finishes due to tyre and machine failures, and a couple of falls, the title went to the consistent Nicky Hayden. The Italian rider missed out by just five points after a disastrous final meeting at Valencia but, with five poles and four fastest laps, had still won more times than anyone else - and continued to look the best rider on the grid

2007 Fiat Yamaha Team, number 46 Yamaha
The new 800cc rules came in and Rossi’s Yamaha, on Michelin tyres, was left trailing behind Ducati with the Bridgestones, as ridden by Casey Stoner. Valentino was on the podium only eight times altogether, but stayed in touch with Stoner until mid-season, when he slid out of the German race. However, Rossi’s tyres let him down a few times - despite four wins, four poles and three fastest laps, he even fell behind Dani Pedrosa at the last hurdle. Rossi was third on 241 points

Valentino Rossi 2008 - photo © Empics / PA Photos
photo © Empics / PA Photos

2008 Fiat Yamaha Team, number 46 Yamaha
Valentino demanded a supply of Bridgestone tyres for the new season, and he got his wish. Yamaha’s second works rider, rookie Jorge Lorenzo, was to carry on with the existing Michelin deal. Despite the tyre change, Stoner and Ducati still looked better than the rest as the season kick-started with a night race in Qatar. However, the Australian rider’s fortunes turned after that, and Rossi came on strong with an improved Yamaha and the tyre deal paying off as the Michelins hit troubled times. A run of wins started in round four, and he ended the season with nine altogether, plus two poles and five fastest laps. A new points record of 373 meant an eighth title

Valentino Rossi 2009 - photo © Empics / PA Photos
photo © Empics / PA Photos

2009 Fiat Yamaha Team, number 46 Yamaha
There was a stronger challenge from team-mate Lorenzo in 2009, with all riders now on the Bridgestone tyres. Stoner’s prospects were hit by a mid-season virus, which made the title race into an all Yamaha affair. Rossi was still a podium regular, but also made a few mistakes which cost him points. However, Lorenzo made mistakes of his own, and the Italian defeated his team-mate eight times on track when they both finished. Importantly, a head-to-head battle on the last lap in Barcelona went to Valentino with a dramatic last corner pass. Six wins, seven pole positions and 306 points contributed to Rossi’s ninth title. He also passed the milestone of 100 GP wins

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