AT the Spanish Grand Prix this Sunday Valentino Rossi is set to become the third rider in 64-year history of motocycle GPs to reach a milestone of 200 starts in the premier class.
Now in his 13th year in the top flight, Rossi made his premier-class debut in the opening race of the 500 GP season in 2000 at the Welkom circuit in Africa.
Even though Rossi has gone a year without a victory, since leaving Yamaha to join Ducati, he still has the fifth longest winning career - with 10 years 93 days between his first win in the 500cc class at Donington Park in 2000 and his last MotoGP win at Sepang in 2010.
Only Alex Barros, Phil Read, Giacomo Agostini and Loris Capirossi have longer winning careers in the premier class, however if (or when) Rossi takes another MotoGP win he will take the record for the longest winning career.
The Italian is also the most successful rider ever at Jerez, with eight wins at the Andalusian circuit, including six in the premier class. Speaking ahead of the race weekend, Rossi said: “I’ve always liked the Jerez track a lot, and we certainly must try to do better than in Qatar. By the end of the three-day test in March, we had found a decent setup for the GP12, so we have a base to start from for this track as we prepare the bike for the race.
"It will be very important to work well during the Friday and Saturday practice sessions, focusing particularly on maintaining a good direction and on taking advantage of what we currently have to work with.”
RIDERS WITH MOST STARTS IN THE PREMIER-CLASS OF GP RACING
1. Alex Barros 245
2. Loris Capirossi 217
3. Valentino Rossi 199
4. Carlos Checa 194
5. Kenny Roberts Jnr 167
6. Sete Gibernau 160
7. Jack Findlay 157
8. Colin Edwards 153
9. Nicky Hayden 152
10. Randy Mamola 145