Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Riders Academy at Tavullia Ranch

It’s called Tavullia, and it’s the secret behind Rossi’s endless motivation

valentino rossi shows off his ranch

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Valentino Rossi and the Ranch.Milagro

“He is a Sunday man.”

Yes, teammate and title contender Jorge Lorenzo is right to call Valentino Rossi a Sunday man. The Italian can have all sorts of trouble in practice, but on Sunday, when it counts, Number 46 puts his visor down and usually pulls a rabbit out a hat.

Rossi had never won at Silverstone before last Sunday. And his chances looked poor, considering the pace of his rivals. But it rained, and like Kevin Schwantz says: "The true champion is always able to turn the circumstances into his advantage. He knows when to push and when to manage the situation, gaining always as many points as possible."

Rossi, you may recall, won the race and gained 12 points on Lorenzo. The last time Rossi had won in the wet was at Donington, in 2005. Rossi’s first GP win was at Brno in 1996, in the 125cc class. With nine world titles and 112 race wins to legitimize his legend, Rossi is as motivated and confident as ever. Where does all this come from?

Tavullia. It’s the center of Rossi’s universe. It’s a small village of 8,000 inhabitants not far from Pesaro, Italy, where everything started in 1996 with a small group of friends.

valentino rossi fan club store

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Valentino Rossi fan club store.Milagro

The number 46 is everywhere in Tavullia. Next to the church is the fan club, which has 8,000 members, a merchandise shop, and the Da Rossi pizzeria. A couple of miles away is the headquarters of Rossi 46, the company that runs all the different activities that Rossi is involved with, and the Ranch.

The Ranch is where Rossi finds the motivation to compete with young riders such as Marc Marquez, who was only 3 years old when Rossi won his first GP in 1996. The Ranch is a sort of "holy" place and it's run by the same friends that 15 years ago spent weekends at "La Cava," following father Graziano Rossi's intuition to train his son on a dirt track to improve his skills to control the bike. The dirt track is 1.8 mile long. Besides the track, which features right turns and changes of elevation, there is a bunkhouse, a farm, vineyards, and olive trees on the 198-acre property.

“Valentino really enjoys what he is doing, and this is one the secrets of his successful and long career,” states Alberto “Albi” Tebaldi, Valentino’s close friend and CEO of VR46. “The second point is the spirit of competition and challenge. With Valentino,there is no training at the Ranch without ending up in a race. We also arrange special events such as the 100km of the Ranch, an endurance race that has all the riders of the Ranch and many friends involved.”

valentino rossi riding at the ranch

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Valentino Rossi riding at the Ranch.Milagro

The young guys of the VR46 Academy play an important role, giving the Doctor extra motivation. “The target is to raise young Italian talent and give them an opportunity to shine,” says Rossi. The idea is to recreate—together with the work carried out by the Italian Motorcycle Federation—the golden days of the Italian school of the 1990s that produced great champions such as Loris Capirossi, Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi, before they were overshadowed by the Spanish.

“In the 1980s, the Americans came to Europe and they beat us,” sys Albi. “The idea is inspired by the ranch of Kenny Roberts senior and the system he built to groom young talent. We follow the guys of the Academy from the training to the technical side. We also take care of their contracts.”

Rossi trains with them every day at the Ranch and at the Gym, where he asked his personal trainer, Carlo Casabianca, to work also with the young guys of the Academy as he has done before when in 2006 Marco Simoncelli needed some support.

valentino rossi riding with young riders

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Valentino Rossi at the ranch.Milagro

Valentino’s passion was contagious for his group of friends (who follow him to GPs around the world and are now involved in the management of the VR46), and it’s vital for the young riders of the VR46 Academy. In total, Valentino and his professional team support eight riders in several classes: Romano Fenati and Andrea Migno (riders of the VR46 Sky Team), Nicolò Antonelli and Pecco Bagnaia in the Moto3 class, Franco Morbidelli and Lorenzo Baldassari in Moto2, Niccolò Bulega in the Junior World Championship Moto3 and his brother Luca Marini the Spanish Championship (CEV) class Moto2.

At the moment, the Academy is only for Italians, but it’s a formula that can be copied and exported abroad. “We believe in this project addressed to young guys from 14 to 19,” says Albi. “In the contract of the riders, there is a clause that if in future they will become Pro, a part of their income will be devoted to support other young talents of the Academy.”

But the VR46 is more than the Ranch. It’s a company with 30 employees and an annual sales volume that exceeds 12 million euros. The facilities are superb, and they reflect Rossi’s approach to life and business.

valentino rossi office space

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VR46 office.Milagro

VR46 was founded to follow Rossi's merchandise from scratch to distribution. The company began producing racing apparel for Rossi's close friend Kevin Schwantz. Then Marco Simoncelli arrived and convinced Vale to take care of his merchandise. Nicky Hayden followed and nowadays VR46 does it for more than 15 GP riders, including Marc Marquez and his brother Alex, Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro, just to name some. And thanks to co-branding activities, VR46 has agreements with companies such as Yamaha, Honda, Monster Energy, Bridgestone, and Oakley.

Lastly, Rossi’s tastes, and his good sense of design, are always taken into account, which is why it’s so easy to spot the VR46 Academy riders when they are out on the track.

valentino rossi ranch overview

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The Ranch.Milagro
valentino rossi andrea migno practice action

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Andrea Migno and Valentino Rossi at the Ranch.Milagro
valentino rossi workshop

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Valentino Rossi's workshop.Milagro
valentino rossi vr46 office exterior

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Valentino Rossi's VR46 company.Milagro
valentino rossi vr46 office space

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VR46 office.Milagro
valentino rossi office space interior

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VR46 office.Milagro
vr46 office space

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VR46 office.Milagro
valentino rossi fan club souvenir

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Valentino Rossi fan club.Milagro
valentino rossi headshot

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Valentino Rossi reflection.Milagro
valentino rossi motogp race action

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Valentino Rossi.Milagro
valentino rossi motogp team celebration

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Valentino Rossi's Movistar Yamaha MotoGP racing team.Milagro
valentino rossi champagne celebration

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Valentino Rossi celebration.Milagro