A Different League - Valentino Rossi

Through exclusive interviews with the people who know and race against him, we get inside the mind of the greatest motorcycle racer the world has ever seen

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Submitted by elbows in on Wed, 14/04/2010 - 14:15

They are lodgings that are utterly without charm, and on a dark night, one of the last places on earth you’d like to be holed up. In Valentino Rossi’s own words, the Motegi track hotel in Japan is a “faintly disturbing place” which looks like the Overlook hotel from The Shining. And it is right here, just after midnight, that Rossi reconciled himself to one of the most monumental decisions in the history of MotoGP: the reigning world champion was turning his back on Honda and their dream machine, the RC211V, to go with Yamaha.

It was the early hours of Sunday, October 5, 2003, and Valentino Rossi was the King Of The World. He had won everything he had put his hand to, nailing the 125 championships, the 250cc title and then the 500cc crown in just two years each. Now, he was facing his third title with Honda in MotoGP’s premier class.

And then, just like that... he walked.

More than anything in his career, this episode perhaps best explains the mindset of the greatest rider in the history of motorcycling. Valentino Rossi is one of a kind, the complete package, a potent mixture of Italian charm, confidence, brains and determination – plus the best all-round riding capabilities that the world has ever seen.

“His self-belief is bomb-proof,” says Suzi Perry, the BBC’s long-serving MotoGP presenter, reflecting on the day rossi decided to leave behind what many thought was the sport’s most perfect partnership. “He never has a problem being bold about his decision making. Even when people think his decisions are ludicrous, he’ll do it if he thinks it’s the right thing to do.”

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