He’s not only the greatest MotoGP racer of all time, winning 115 races from 432 starts. Without doubt the most flamboyant we’ve ever seen, the most loved, and the most respected. He’s done more for the sport than any other rider in history; and built a €30m business (VR46) whilst doing it. He’s a sportsman, a businessman and a household name. And he’s been a part of the MotoGP paddock for 25 years. Yesterday though, he finished his last MotoGP race, bringing his illustrious motorcycle racing career to an end. But although his physical presence on the grid will be sorely missed, his legacy remains. And that’s why MotoGP after Rossi will never be the same; but it looks as though it’ll be just as good, if not better. Here’s why…
If you cast you’re mind back to the early noughties, you’ll remember how dominant Valentino Rossi was. He won five MotoGP world championships in a row, from 2001 to 2005. A few years later, Marc Marquez took over as the dominant force in MotoGP. And whilst I was quite happy to watch Rossi win week after week, for some reason, I got bored of seeing Marquez do the same. I think that’s probably because when MM93 wins, he never seems to do it with the same ‘flare’. Anyway, that’s beside the point.
The point I’m making is nobody really wants another five years with the same character on top of the podium, every weekend. The past couple of years have been fantastic, with umpteen different winners on every different manufacturer (except Aprilia), and almost every team. There’s no telling who is going to win from one weekend to the next, and almost every rider on the grid is capable of sticking it on the podium. And that’s why, if you ask me, MotoGP is better now than it’s ever been.
And whilst it won’t be the same without Valentino Rossi on the grid, he’ll still be there. He’ll continue to play a massive part in the careers of countless riders, from the few official Team VR46 riders, to the scores of young Italian blood that’s gone through the VR46 Academy. Young riders that, if they haven’t already taken MotoGP wins (Franco Morbidelli, Pecco Bagnaia), probably will be doing in the next few years (Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi).
MotoGP has been one of the most exciting forms of motorsport to watch in the past 20 years, and that’s largely thanks to Valentino Rossi. But if you ask me, MotoGP will continue to be one of the most exciting forms of Motorsport to watch, even after Rossi has disappeared; because of everything he’s done.
Through his talent, flamboyance, and intelligence, he’s elevated MotoGP to a level previously unseen. And before he departed, he ploughed a load of time, money and effort into nurturing the lads that would eventually be competing against him. Lads that would eventually be beating him.
So MotoGP after Rossi will never be the same. But we should be thankful for the many years he has given us; thankful for everything he has done for the sport; and thankful for all the effort he’s put into making sure he leaves MotoGP in good hands. Thanks for everything.