At School with Valentino Rossi

When The Doctor is your teacher, you have the tools to succeed

Valentino Rossi teaching young riders

Photo #7

Valentino Rossi at the Ranch commenting on track actions with Marco Bezzecchi and Franco Morbidelli.Courtesy of VR46

The riders of the VR46 Racing Team and the VR46 Academy learn the “Valentino method” as Alberto “Albi” Tebaldi, CEO of VR46 and close friend of the nine-time world champion defines it. It’s a concentrate of Rossi’s 20 years of racing experience built with scientific precision and delivered as pure passion and fun.

The secret behind Rossi's endless motivation, is his great passion for motorcycles and road racing. Finding his maximum expression not only on MotoGP circuits, but also at home at The Ranch, where he trains every possible Saturday with the young talents of the SKY VR46 Racing team and the VR46 Academy.

Rossi really enjoys what he is doing, and with his passion there is always competition and challenge. With Rossi, there is no training at The Ranch that doesn’t end up as a race. Then in the evening, it all ends with a “grigliata,” a typical barbecue that is another important social moment in which to share the moments of the day.

Valentino Rossi and student training at The Ranch

Photo #9

Valentino Rossi training at The RanchCourtesy of VR46

The Ranch is the dirt-track playground where Rossi finds the motivation to compete with young riders such as Marc Marquez, who was only three years old when Rossi won his first GP in 1996. The Ranch is 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 controlling the bike. The track is 1.8 miles long and features both left and right turns, and changes of elevation, but there are already plans to make it bigger, build a jump, and possibly open the facilities to the public.

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 Rossi.

SKY VR46 Racing Team

Photo #1

The SKY VR46 Racing Team: Romano Fenati, Andrea Migno, and Nicolò BulegaCourtesy of Sky VR46 Racing Team

To follow their path in the GPs, Rossi has created his own team in Moto3 with the support of important partner SKY–the TV and media company that broadcasts MotoGP in Italy and is focused on scouting young talent in all disciplines, motorsport included.

For 2016, the Sky VR46 Racing Team (Moto3) lines up with “veteran” Romano Fenati (aiming at winning the Moto3 title), Andrea Migno, and rookie Nicolò Bulega (2015 World Junior champion, winner of the Italian and European MiniGP 50, and Italian PreGP 125 and PreGP 250 championships).

Nicolo Bulega of the SKY VR46 Racing Team

Photo #3

Nicolò Bulega of the SKY VR46 Racing Team. With his height, blond hair, and big smile, the 2015 World Junior Champion doesn?t pass unnoticed.Courtesy of VR46

We asked the SKY VR46 Racing team riders what it means to have Valentino Rossi as teacher, tutor and coach?

"Valentino was my hero since I was a kid," says Nicolò Bulega. "To train with him in the gym or at The Ranch, to have him besides you as a friend, to know that he is watching you and supports you is an incredible boost of motivation and self esteem. My father used to say that it is equal to half a second faster on track! Maybe it's too much, but it's true that it has no price to grow up having a coach like Valentino Rossi. Valentino doesn't give advice, he gives the example. You train with him, you observe him and you understand how you have to work. He is a champion, but I admire him first of all as a person. He always smiles also when things go wrong, as during the tough two years with Ducati."

“I observe Valentino trying to catch all his secrets,” comments Romano Fenati. “The details make the difference, and Rossi is always very careful about all the small details. I have learned a lot in these years with the SKY VR46 Racing team. Last year I finished fourth and I missed some luck and some consistency. It’s time to play all the cards and try to win the Moto3 world title.”

VR46 Academy 2016 students

Photo #4

The 11 talents of the VR46 Riders AcademyCourtesy of VR46

“I try to absorb as much as possible like a sponge,” echoes Andrea Migno. “I admire his incredible passion for our sport and the power of his will that really makes the difference. I’m lucky because I can grow and learn from him. When you meet Valentino for the first time he is so friendly that it seems that we have been friends since ages. It’s an amazing feeling.”

“Valentino follows the kids of the VR46 academy with great attention,” stresses the father of Nicolò Bulega. “I was a former racer in 250cc but I wouldn’t give my son to any other team except the Sky VR46 Racing Team. Nicolò has been a part of the Academy since the 2014 season. The Doctor knows everything and supports the kids also from a distance. For example, last year we were in Spain to test for the final part of the season and it was in the days that followed the Malaysian GP, when the whole world was focused on the Rossi/Marquez controversy. Nicolò received a text message from Valentino congratulating him for the great job done at the test. You can imagine the boost of confidence that this can represents for a 15-year old kid!” Bulega finally won the World Junior title last year and dedicated it to Rossi.

Valentino Rossi in a meeting

Photo #6

Valentino Rossi meeting with Academy riders in the VR46 officesCourtesy of VR46

Created in 2014, the Academy has increased in numbers every year and in total counts 11 young riders. In addition to VR46 Sky Racing Team riders Fenati, Migno and Bulega, there is Nicolò Antonelli, Pecco Bagnaia (Moto3), Franco Morbidelli, Lorenzo Baldassari, and Luca Marini in Moto2, Dennis Foggia and Marco Bezzecchi in the World Junior Championship and Celestino Vietti Ramus in the Italian Championship CIV class Moto. The Academy is run by Rossi and his closest friends and collaborators like Albi and Uccio, and supported by Yamaha that supplies 26 R-Series and YZ series motorcycles to allow the full-time Academy riders to train and develop their racing skills at The Ranch.

“I think it’s the technical support that really makes the difference for the kids of the Academy. They can glean from Valentino’s knowledge, and 20 years of experience gained on the track. They learn the “Valentino method.” It’s a result of a scientific work carried out by Rossi throughout his career with discipline and scientific precision, and that he succeeds to transfer as passion, fun and game. This is the secret of Valentino Rossi and the VR46 Academy” concluded Albi.

SKY VR46 Racing Team

Photo #2

The SKY VR46 Racing Team. From the left: Romano Fenati, Luca Brivio, Barbara Mazzone, Elena Sacchi, Albi, Nicolà Bulega, Uccio, Pablo Nieto, and Andrea Migno.Courtesy of Sky VR46 Racing Team
Valentino Rossi meeting with Academy riders

Photo #5

Valentino Rossi meeting with Academy riders in the VR46 officesCourtesy of VR46
riders training at vr46 ranch

Photo #8

Valentino Rossi training at The Ranch with VR46 Academy riders and friendsCourtesy of VR46