Valentino at the
premier of his new biography with aurhor Max Oxley.
THE BIOGRAPHY OF A WORLD CHAMPION
may only be 23 years old but the Italian superstar already rates as
one of the greatest motorcycle racers in history. Young, sublimely talented
and dazzlingly charismatic, Rossi seems to have it all. Over a mere
six seasons he has swept through Grand Prix racing, winning the 125
World Championship in 1997, the 250 World Championship in '99 and the
500 World Championship last year. This season he has headed Honda's
assault on the new-look MotoGP series, riding the spectacular Repsol
Honda RC 211V, a 200 horsepower, 5 cylinder, four-stroke bike. This
explosive combination has led the three leaders to a new World Championship
title, the first of the MotoGP era, with four races left until the end
of the season.
Son of seventies GP winner Graziano, who won three 250 GPs in 1979,
the year of his birth, Rossi has spent pretty much all his life on motorcycles.
He rode his first minibike at the age of just two and a half and spent
the summers of his earliest years traveling the continent with his father
and mother Stefania. Like most successful contemporary sportsmen Rossi
found his chosen sport early in life, although he did begin competing
on four wheels, racing go-karts. But the costs of getting serious on
four wheels were too great for his family, so he soon switched his allegiance
to two wheels, contesting his first minibike event in 1990. Commencing
the theme of learning the first year and dominating the second, which
he continued into 125, 250 and 500 GPs, Rossi was Italian minibike champion
the following year.
At the age of 14 he moved on to bigger things, riding a Cagiva 125 street
bike in the 1993 Italian Sport Production Championship. Once again,
he won the title the following year and was quickly signed to
ride Aprilia 125 GP machines in the '95 Italian and European Championships.
By now his phenomenal riding talent was attracting real notice as he
dominated his national series and took third in his first Euro campaign.
Rossi made his World Championship debut at the 1996 Malaysian GP and
climbed his first podium a few months later. He won his first world
round at that August's Czech GP. By now his sunny disposition and mop-head
hairdo were making him a huge favorite with fans. GP racing is
a serious business but Rossi can work as hard as anyone while apparently
treating his job as a bit of a laugh. That perhaps is his secret, for
he's always relaxed, always enjoying himself and always very, very fast.
Promoted to Aprilia's factory squad he was favorite to win the '97 125
crown. In fact Rossi totally dominated the frantically contested series,
winning 11 of 15 rounds.
Next stop the '98 250 World Championship. Rossi was lightning quick
from the outset on his Aprilia RSW250 but given to mistakes. After several
tumbles he got his act together to take a clean sweep of the final four
races to end up second overall. Nothing could stop him in '99 and after
a steady start he went on to win nine of the last 14 races. Rossi demonstrated
awesome riding talent, intelligent tactics and admirable
consistency against his more experienced rivals, so once again it was
time to look for another challenge.
He started his
500 career in the spring of 2000 the same way he'd started his 250 career
- fast but flawed. Yet after tumbling out of the first two races he
steadied himself and got quicker and quicker. After scoring his first
500 podium in Spain during April, he took his first 500 win in tricky
damp conditions in Britain. More podium finishes at the next three races
had him challenging Kenny Roberts for the series lead but a tumble at
Valencia ended his title hopes. Another win in Brazil consolidated second
in the championship.
Not surprisingly, Rossi went into 2001 as one of the favorites to win
the last-ever 500 crown. He started the season in blazing style, winning
the first three races to establish an impressive championship lead over
his rivals. Halfway through the 16-round series he had already won five
races but a tumble at May's rain-soaked Italian GP and a difficult ride
to seventh at July's German GP allowed Max Biaggi to close to within
ten points. Rossi responded to his arch-rival's pressure in brilliant
style, winning six of the final seven races. He secured the World Championship
with two races remaining and his season total of 11 wins gave him the
highest percentage win rate of any modern-era 500 racer, just ahead
of mentor Mick Doohan, the man who won five 500 crowns in the late nineties.
Rossi's cavalier riding style - often likened to that of legendary '93
500 champ Kevin Schwantz - is only eclipsed by his off-track persona,
which seems unaffected by his rise to bona fide superstar status. In
Italy his fame has reached pop star proportions, forcing him to set
up home in London.
He now spends much of his time in the English capital, where he indulges
his passion for a fun-packed and hectic nightlife. But Rossi likes to
keep his feet firmly on the ground, hanging out with mates he's known
since kindergarten rather than working the celebrity circuit. He's a
keen video games player, motocross rider and rally driver - he has already
competed in a number of races with rally cars and may switch to the
sport full-time if he ever tires of bikes.
This 2002 season Valentino Rossi has joined the Repsol Honda factory
team as team mate of the Japanese Tour Ukawa. Despite the change, things
have stayed the same with regard to last year, since the reigning World
Champion is counting on the same technician and mechanics squad, and
is continuing with the colours of Repsol, who already joined him last
year during his victorious 2001 season.
The combination Repsol-Honda-Rossi has led the Italian rider this year
to make one of the most impressive seasons with regard to figures: 10
victories out of 12 races, 1 second place, 8 fastest laps, 270 of 300
available points, 7 poles and 120 laps leading during races. These figures
reaffirm with no doubt the superiority shown by Valentino Rossi along
this 2002 season.
of Valentino Rossi
Date of Birth:: 16/02/79, Place of Birth: Urbino, Italia, Age: 23
Total World titles: 125 (1997), 250 (1999), 500 (2001), MotoGP
The only rider in the history of the sport to win all 3 Grand Prix World
First Grand Prix: 1996 Malasia (Aprilia RS 125)
First podium: 1996 Austria (Aprilia RS 125)
First victory: 1996 Rep. Checa (Aprilia RS 125)
Total Pole Positions: 5 in 125cc, 5 in 250cc, 11 in 500cc/MotoGP Total
Podiums: 15 en 125cc, 21 en 250cc, 33 en 500cc/MotoGP
Total victories: 12 in 125cc, 14 in 250cc, 23 in 500cc/MotoGP
1994: Italian Sports Production Champion (Cagiva 125cc)
1995: 125cc Italian Champion (Aprilia RS 125)
1995: 3rd 125cc European Championship (Aprilia RS 125)
1996: 9th 125cc World Championship (Aprilia RS 125)
1997: 125cc World Champion (Aprilia RS 125)
1998: 2nd 250cc World Championship (Aprilia RSW 250)
1999: 250cc World Championship (Aprilia RSW 250)
2000: 2nd 500cc World Championship (Honda NSR 500)
2001: 500cc World Champion (Honda NSR 500)
Winner Suzuka Eight Hours (Honda VTR- SP 1000)
2002: MotoGP World Champion (Honda RC211 V)
On the starting grid with Honda MotoGP team manager Jeremy
An exciting look at the world's best motorcycle
Click to Order Online!
Valentino Rossi Story
from the 2002 season
and Superbike Annual