Valentino Rossi or the eternal Peter Pan? On February 16 the Doctor turns 40; his spirit and passion haven't changed and, on the eve of his 24th GP season, he is more motivated than ever. Aged to perfection? On his résumé, he can boast nine World Championships (seven out of nine in MotoGP), 115 GP wins, and 232 podiums, but it would be a mistake to describe him for the results he achieved.

“The past and the records don’t count so much. I live the present moment.”

With this simple statement, Rossi reveals the secret of his eternal youth. “The reason why I work every day and I race is for the taste of the win and those five to six hours after the victory. It’s difficult to describe the explosion of feelings when you cross the line first to the checkered flag. It’s the best thing ever that has happened to you. And this feeling goes on until you go to bed happy. Monday morning you wake up and it’s a brand-new day,” Rossi said at Assen 2017, where he tasted the victory champagne for the 150th time, and he still feels the same heading into the 2019 MotoGP season.

Valentino Rossi
The Doctor enters his 25th season of MotoGP at age 40.Yamaha Motor Racing

As with all visionary people, Rossi looks ahead, and so it becomes imperative to talk about the Doctor’s next 40 years rather than his past 40. For those who know him well, this makes perfect sense. Living in the present—with joy and dedication to his job—is the mantra that has changed his life, his family and friends, his hometown of Tavullia, and MotoGP.

No Limits

There are no limits except the ones you put on yourself. Rossi is a master in this. “My dream was to be a professional rider, but I never put myself a limit in terms of age. The most important thing is to be competitive,” he answered recently on a radio show. “In the past it was more normal as riders started to compete when they were older. Now it looks atypical because we start very young. But maybe I open a new trend and many other riders will follow my example. Of course, compared to a 25-year-old boy you need to work harder, but physically you have all the elements to do it well. You just need to take care of certain things such as recovery times, diet. At 25 years old, everything comes easier, but to ride you need strength and stamina and you can train these skills.”

Motivation

“The challenge doesn’t change: competing to win.” Rossi’s strongest point has always been his motivation, “I’m completely focused on the present, on being competitive and going to the races, knowing that I will enjoy it.”

Loyalty

In Rossi’s future there is a lot of Yamaha, at least for the next two years, but the people who know him well don’t doubt that he will continue with the brand even afterward. The relationship between number 46 and the Japanese factory is a special one, a kind of happy wedding sealed by mutual passion, esteem, and trust. Rossi literally sleeps with his Yamaha, as the M1 he won the MotoGP championship with in 2004 (the year of the legendary switch from Honda) decorates his bedroom. The other three M1s he won titles with in 2005, 2008, and 2009 are in his living room, in his garage, and in his office at VR46.

VR46

Founded in 2008 from an idea of Valentino, VR46 represents Vale’s vision of living, working, and enjoying life. It’s not by chance that the headquarter is in Tavullia and that the key positions are covered by the rider’s best friends, like Alberto “Albi” Tebaldi, VR46’s president. One of the strongest and most consistent points in Rossi’s life and career, in fact, has always been to remain close to his roots, Tavullia, and his friends from primary school, despite becoming a global legend.

Rossi’s attention to the details that made his helmets and leathers icons of motorsport have turned into a business. VR46 was founded to follow Rossi’s merchandising from scratch to distribution. Together with Rossi, the company started to produce racing apparel for his very close friend Kevin Schwantz, and from that moment on, the list has grown. Thanks to co-branding activities, VR46 is important to other brands and manufacturers. Rossi surveys the designs and his special taste is always taken into consideration. It’s no wonder that VR46 merchandising has enjoyed such success. From the initial group of five friends, the company now counts 60 people, and the annual sales volume exceeds 20 million euro (approximately $22,589,900). Present in 50 countries, VR46 is a standard setter in the merchandising world, but it’s more than that. The Ranch and the Academy, which currently counts 11 riders, is a vital part of Rossi’s world and an endless source of motivation.

“The idea is inspired by the ranch of Kenny Roberts Sr. and the system he built to raise young talent. We follow the guys of the Academy at 360 degrees, from the training to the technical side. We also take care of the contracts. At the Ranch we train but we also have fun and competing with the young talents of the Academy is an extra boost of motivation,” Rossi stated.

“Valentino really enjoys what he is doing and this is one the secrets of his long career. The second point is the spirit of competition and challenge. In fact, there is no training at the Ranch without ending with a race. We also arrange special events such as the 100km of the Ranch, an endurance race that see all the Ranch riders and many friends involved,” Tebaldi confirmed.

The target of the Academy is to raise young Italian talents and give them all the golden days of the Italian school of the 1990s that produced such great champions as (Loris) Capirossi, (Max) Biaggi, and Rossi himself.

Mission

With Franco Morbidelli and Pecco Bagnaia winning the Moto2 titles and competing in MotoGP, the Academy has successfully accomplished Rossi’s mission. But this is only the start. With the Sky VR46 Racing Team lined up in Moto3 and Moto2 (and eventually soon also in MotoGP), and the 11 riders of the Academy in all three classes, Rossi is helping to shape the future face of the FIM roadracing championship. And the good news is that trademark is more than pure talent and results—it’s a philosophy and approach to life. One where the passion and love for what one is doing come together with his attention to detail and perfection that still pushes him to be the first to go on track and the last to take off the helmet.

Valentino Rossi
Happy birthday to Valentino Rossi.Yamaha Motor Racing

The yellow crowds lining the track are confirmation that Valentino Rossi, at 40 years old, resonates with the fans more than ever. With the Sky VR46 Team and the Academy paving the Doctor’s path, the future will be more of the same passion.

With this in mind, we wish happy birthday and 40 more years of passion and success to Valentino Rossi.