Did you know that Italian MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi is the first and only rider to have earned the world champion title in four different classes: 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP? And there could be more wins yet to come. After a stellar 23-year career so far, 40-year-old Rossi is already signed up with Yamaha until the end of 2020.
With 390 Grand Prix races, 89 wins in the premier class (115 overall) and 232 podiums to his name, the list of Rossi’s accomplishments is more than impressive.
But Rossi isn’t only famous for his achievements in motorsports. He´s also known for performing motorcycle tricks in fancy dresses and wearing special helmet designs on the racetrack, which, along with his many nicknames, have made him one of Italy's most popular athletes and a world-famous media star. The outstanding talent of the young Rossi was discovered when he was still a teenager, earning his first regional championship on two wheels at the early age of 13.
The next milestones included an Italian 125cc Championship in 1995 and a third place in the 125cc European Championship, securing him a place at the World Championship the following year. Rossi concluded that debut season with a respectable ninth place, then earned his first World Championship title only a year later – turning him into the youngest rider in history to win the title in the 125cc class.
In 1998 Rossi moved up the ladder again and entered the 250cc class, finishing an impressive second in his inaugural year, and becoming World Champion in 1999.
After moving to the 500cc class the following year, the pattern of success continued. Now riding for Honda, Rossi finished as runner-up in his first year, before becoming the last ever 500cc World Champion in 2001; a class that was then renamed ‘MotoGP’.
It was also during those years that Valentino Rossi earned his nickname, ‘The Doctor’ – partly thanks to what has been described as his ‘cold and clinical dismantling of his opponents’ and his cool, calm composure in racing. But most of all, the title ‘dottore’ in Italy is a mark of the highest respect for someone who is particularly good at something.
From 2001 onwards, Rossi was unstoppable. ‘The Doctor’ won the MotoGP title in his debut season (2002), and continued to dominate MotoGP in 2003, 2004 and 2005 with a total of five successive wins. What’s more, as one of these (in 2003) was with Honda and the next win with Yamaha (in 2004), Rossi had also become the first rider ever to win consecutive, premier class races for different manufacturers.
After two seasons as a runner-up, Rossi was able to regain the World Championship title twice(!) in 2008 and 2009. Highlights included standing on the podium in 16 out of 18 rounds in 2008 and winning his ninth World Championship title (and the fourth for Yamaha) in 2009.
Having spent two seasons at Ducati, ‘number 46’ was back at Yamaha in 2013. After this return to the manufacturer of his choice, Rossi was able to secure the Vice-Champion title three years in a row in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In the latter, the consistently skilled riding of Rossi and his teammate Jorge Lorenzo also brought Yamaha its seventh FIM MotoGP team title.
Despite challenging times on the track during the last two seasons, Valentino Rossi is known as one of the world’s greatest riders: what many call a ‘living legend’. With 56 wins from 224 races, Rossi remains the most successful Yamaha racer of all time.
So, if you too want to feel like a living legend and own a helmet from the VR46 collection signed by the ‘The Doctor’ himself, why not take part in our challenge to win this fantastic prize or one of the additional fan packages on NGK NTK EMEA’s Facebook site by September 5, 2019. Simply follow the instructions for your chance to win. Good luck!