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Valentino Rossi: The Most Versatile Racer In Motorsport

Seven time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi is a legend of motorsport, earning plaudits from the likes of Michael Schumacher and Sir Lewis Hamilton having dominated the highest level of motorcycle racing from 2001 to 2009. With the dawn of the new MotoGP season, there’s no better time to look at one if its greatest products.

Not only a legend of bike racing, Rossi has also been behind the wheel of everything from rally cars to a Formula One Ferrari, how many others can say that? 

The Italian racer first entered Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the 125cc class in 1996 having competed in the Italian and European Championships in his junior career. The Austrian Grand Prix on his debut season brought his first podium while his first pole came very soon after with victory in the Czech Republic. His 12 wins saw him claim the 1997 125cc World Championship while two years later 14 wins saw Rossi claim the 1999 250cc World Championship, moving to the MotoGP World Championship for the new millennium. 

Away from Grand Prix, Rossi became the first Italian to win the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan alongside American Colin Edwards in 2001. 

As well as his prestige on the bike, Rossi has garnered as much acclaim behind the wheel with his dexterity and versatility on show in another endurance series as he competed in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series Pro Am Cup, competing in a Ferrari at Monza and the Nurburgring. 

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It’s only fitting that Rossi competed in such events as the spiritual home of Endurance Racing is his home nation with the first of its kind thought to be Coppa Florio in 1900 in Brescia. 

As well as his exploits in endurance, Rossi garnered the respect of Formula One world champions Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Rossi earned Schumacher’s praises having tested the Ferrari car in 2006, coming in at only half a second behind the seven time world champion, something many full time drivers in F1 would struggle with, with Schumacher praising the cyclist’s immense talent and sharing his disappointment that Rossi later chose to remain in MotoGP rather than diversify into the pinnacle of car based motorsport. It’s no doubt that the Italian could have been a success with both Martin Coulthard, Mark Webber and Jarno Tulli beaten by Rossi during these tests. 

Rossi also had a passion for rally, competing in the 2005 Monza Rally Show against his idol Colin McRae, before winning the event in 2007. He had a real habit of beating more experienced, something many would struggle with. 

With 235 moto podiums; titles in five different classes; five motocross wins at the La 100km Dei Campioni; seven rally wins, and numerous other achievements, it’s fair to say that Valentino Rossi may not be only the greatest MotoGP rider ever, but also one of the best drivers of any vehicle or class in racing. Even more talented than those involved in horse racing too.

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