Happy Birthday Valentino Rossi

Aged to perfection?

Valentino and Graziano Rossi portrait

Valentino and Graziano Rossi.

On February 16th Valentino Rossi celebrates his 37th Birthday. He was a promising rider when he entered Grand Prix racing in 1996. Twenty years later he is a legend of our sport with a remarkable career defined by nine world titles, record-breaking achievements and a worldwide support network that makes him a huge fan favorite with over 12 million likes on Facebook and over 4 million followers on Twitter.

From go karts and pocket bikes to the GP machines, Rossi has spent most of his life on two wheels collecting 115 GP wins, 211 GP podiums and nine crowns in four different classes 125, 250, 500 and MotoGP. February 16th is a special day, the start of a “fairy tale” as his father Graziano Rossi defines it.

“Valentino was special since he was a kid and he always did exceptional things,” said his father. “He was immensely smart and curious. He really enjoyed accomplishing very difficult tasks. He developed a great passion for speed and he was fast since the beginning. He was around two years old when he learned to ride a small motorbike, this happened before learning how to ride a bicycle. He was five when he started driving the go karts. I was also a racer and it was a great satisfaction seeing him riding so fast. Valentino had a big talent, he enjoyed racing and this became his life.”

Valentino Rossi with Sepang winter test helmet

Valentino Rossi shows off his Sepang "Winter Test" helmet.

The best moment of his 20-year career? “Every first time is memorable: the first year on the pocket bikes, the debut in the Italian Sport Production 125 championship, the first year in the European Championship and then the first GP seasons in 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP,” Graziano adds. “I consider the 2015 season also an unforgettable championship because he went close to clinching the 10th world title.”

The best present for his birthday? “The 10th title, of course. Reaching this result has a special meaning and will put Valentino on an exceptional level. The 10th success would mean one crown more than Michael Schumacher (7 world titles in F1) and the nine time rally world champion Sebastien Loeb. These are two marvelous drivers and together with Valentino they represent the pinnacles of motorsport.”

According to Graziano, 37 years is not too old fight at the maximum level. “The 2016 season could be similar to the previous one. Being 36 or 37 years old doesn’t change too much and Valentino can count on the same bike and the same team. In my opinion he will be competitive as last year. He was very happy after the first  MotoGP test at Sepang. Jorge (Lorenzo) was very fast, but for Valentino it was important that Yamaha was on top of the timesheets with a 1-2 placement. He knows his teammate very well so he is not impressed by his lap times. Valentino will be there when it counts. He is motivated as ever. The final part of the 2015 season gave him an extra boost.”

What about the future? "I see him in car racing or maybe playing with the VR46 Academy kids, helping them to grow at the Ranch," said father Graziano, but "The Doctor" seems to have no intention to retire.

Valentino Rossi Sepang winter test action

Valentino Rossi at Sepang winter test.

Ready to celebrate his birthday in Australia on the eve of the second MotoGP winter test at Phillip Island, the doctor spoke about his future at the microphones of SkySport MotoGP: "My contract will expire at the end of the 2016 season so I will have to decide if I want to continue or not for two more seasons. If we find an agreement with Yamaha, it will be a two-year contract, because now it works like this and all the riders sign a two-year contract."

When will he decide? “As in 2014, I will wait the first 5-6 races and then I will start to think about it. Ideally a rider should decide with calm, so at Valencia, but the riders market starts much earlier,” continued Rossi.

Then he couldn't avoid to have a go at his teammate Lorenzo, who also expressed the wish to finish his career in Yamaha but is lured by Ducati: "you should better believe to me when I say that I want to finish my career in Yamaha, he laughed.

Photo #1

Valentino and Graziano Rossi.Courtesy of Milago

Photo #2

Valentino Rossi at Sepang winter test.Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

Photo #3

Valentino Rossi at Sepang winter test.Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

Photo #4

Valentino Rossi at Sepang winter test.Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha

Photo #5

Valentino Rossi at Sepang winter test.Courtesy of Movistar Yamaha