Happy Birthday Valentino Rossi And Marc Márquez!

An Italian and a Spaniard walk into a bar…

Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez have appeared to make amends since their tumultuous 2015 season.Courtesy of MotoGP

Today is Valentino Rossi's 39th birthday, while his young nemesis Marc Márquez turns 25 tomorrow. Both men are spending their special days on the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, testing their 2018 machines in preparation for another MotoGP season, one that's added a 19th race on a new track. Combined, the Italian and Spaniard have won 15 MotoGP world titles, and neither rider is showing signs of slowing down.

“The age is not a problem; motivation is the key. I need to understand if I still want to wake up every day and train as hard as I did in the past years—this winter included.”

- Valentino Rossi

Rossi is coming off one of his worst seasons in the premier class, taking just one victory compared to the six Márquez grabbed on his way to his second-consecutive world title and fourth since banging handlebars in the premier class. Rossi bounced back quickly from a broken leg in late 2017 to salvage his season, and gave a strong showing at the recent Sepang test.

Márquez has never lost on American soil since joining the premier class, but Rossi keeps sticking in there.Courtesy of MotoGP

Unfortunately for Rossi, Márquez battled an aggressive and confident Andrea Dovizioso and his Ducati GP17 to narrowly claim the crown, with a late-charging Jorge Lorenzo finding his form to finish on the podium after bolting from Rossi’s shadow. The five-time world champion topped the time sheets on his GP18 in Sepang, setting a course record and showing the paddock his intentions for 2018.

Rossi and a goofy 13-year-old fanboy named Márquez at the 2008 Catalan Grand Prix.Courtesy of MotoGP

Time will tell if Rossi's 39-year-old body can handle a longer season against the renewed Lorenzo, the pesky Johann Zarco, the hungry Danilo Petrucci, the determined Maverick Viñales, the calmly driven Dovizioso, and the seemingly out-of-control laser focus of Márquez, whose bucking-bronco theatrics in the season-ending battle in Valencia showed his true mettle.

So here's a buon compleanno to Vale and feliz cumpleaños to the kid from Cervero, with a hearty thank-you to their parents for bringing them into the world so we can cheer them on 19 Sundays in 2018.