WATCH Valentino Rossi making his 500 GP debut in 2000

Valentino Rossi made his 500GP debut on this day twenty years and while his first race didn't quite set the tone for his career, it was still memorable

Valentino Rossi - Nastro Azzuro Honda (2000 500GP)

Has there ever been a better premier class rider than Valentino Rossi?

That’s open for a debate that may never end (but it’s fun starting one anyway) but how many of you remember where his path to his seven 500GP/MotoGP titles began?

After winning the 1999 250GP championship, Rossi stepped up to 500GP with the Nastro Azzurro Honda team in 2000, making his much-anticipated debut on this day [19 March] at the South African Grand Prix on Phakisa Freeway, near Welkom.

Unfortunately for Rossi, though he qualified well in fifth position, it wasn’t a fairy-tale start to his time in the series when he crashed off on lap five though not before ruffling a few feathers when he got crossed up with Garry McCoy, as the Aussie points out in his post-race press conference.

Speaking of McCoy, he was the surprise race winner with a charging ‘back it in’ style ride on the WCM Yamaha from ninth on the grid, getting the better of fellow Yamaha man Carlos Checa and Loris Capirossi on the Pons Honda.

While Rossi’s time in the race was brief, it’s always a pleasure to see his distinctive yellow Honda battling it out against some classic – and long retired – names in the sport, while the lack of commentary here means you can properly enjoy a sweet two-stroke soundtrack.