in the camera lense

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

Off the track, the real Rossi is harder to pin down. It’s a given that he likes to party, and that his social life revolves around his inner circle of life-long friends, which he calls The Tribe Of Chihuahua. He also admits to being a fan of Al Pacino and The Simpsons, and he’s a lifelong supporter of FC Internazionale Milano - arguably the best team to support when you’re growing up in the north east of Italy.

“He still lives like a kid,” says Italian MotoGP insider Carlo Pernat. “He has the same friends, the same way of life. After a race, it’s impossible to find him, no one knows where he goes. Maybe he’s in London, maybe he’s in a disco with some friends he’s known since he was a boy. He never changes, he doesn’t want to be famous, and he doesn’t want a movie star girlfriend.”

Rossi is less likely to be in London today: three years ago he moved back to the place he grew up in, five miles from Italy’s north-eastern coast. When Rossi set up shop in a posh apartment in Mayfair “to get away from it all”, it was all just a lie. As has been famously documented, Rossi was still spending most of his time back in Italy dodging the taxman, something which almost spelled financial ruin when the Italian authorities found out and demanded £94 million in unpaid taxes and fines. They settled for £26 million and at the end of 2005 Rossi left London officially and went back to the one place on earth he feels at ease. “I am less rich, but happy about my choice and the quality of life,” he says.

Rossi has always struggled with fame. In front of the cameras, he seems at ease with it, but when he’s not working he despises the whole circus which comes with being spotted on the street. According to reports, he used to go out clubbing in a wig and stick-on moustache. “I once asked him if there anything he’d like to change about himself,” says Scott. “He said, ‘Yes, I’d like to try not being Valentino Rossi for the day,’ and that says it all really.”

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