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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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MotoGP: A Cycle of Success

July 3, 2005 latimes.com : A Cycle of Success
Italian motorcyclist Rossi, considered to be the best racer ever by many, makes U.S. debut at Laguna Seca

By Shav Glick, Times Staff Writer

The name Valentino Rossi sounds more like that of an opera singer than a motorcycle racer, but it is fitting because the fun-loving Italian is a virtuoso.

On two wheels.



Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey, three Californians in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame with 10 world road racing championships among them, all say there has never been anyone better maybe as good, but none better.

Henny Ray Abrams, an international racing authority, wrote, "Valentino Rossi is the greatest motorcycle racer ever," in the magazine Sport Rider.

And that was before Rossi, who lives in London and rides for Yamaha, grabbed the 2005 MotoGP season by the throat and held it hostage by winning six of the first seven races.

Although only 26, Rossi has won six world championships the last four in a row in the sport's premier class. Three times he won on a Honda and last year on a Yamaha. He has never raced in the United States, but that gap in his resume will be closed this week when he rides in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca's hillside course.

"I am happy come to California. I have never been there but I know is very beautiful for the sun, the beautiful girls," the heavily accented Rossi said by telephone from Assen, Holland, where last Sunday he won the Gauloises Dutch TT, race No. 7 in the 17-race MotoGP season.

"I know Laguna Seca only from TV," he said, then added mischievously, "and from my PlayStation. I know the layout. I have studied it many times. Colin [Edwards, a teammate] is very fast on PlayStation. We have some tough fights together.

"I think the track is very difficult because it goes up and down a lot and I think it is quite technical. Very difficult will be the first left after the straight and the Corkscrew, where there is change of direction and very much downhill."

Combining rare talent with an exuberance that endears him to fans, Rossi is a cult figure in Europe and Asia, where 200-mph motorcycle racing is as popular as Formula One, and sometimes more so. Two races in Spain last year, one in the rain, drew more than 200,000 spectators, and seven others attracted crowds of more than 100,000.

The three-day event in Monterey will be the first world road racing championship held in the United States since 1994 at Laguna Seca.

"Riding Laguna Seca sitting at a PlayStation may help him learn the layout and even the speed changes, but no electronic game can give you the feeling of the bumps and the acceleration you get on the track," warned Rainey, a three-time winner at Laguna Seca to go with his three world championships.

Rossi gained his reputation as a riding phenomenon when he became the youngest world 125cc champion in 1997 at 18, riding an Aprilia. Two years later, he won the 250cc title, once again with Aprilia. In 2000 he joined Honda and after finishing second in his first 500cc season, the next year he won 11 races on his way to the championship in what was the last of the two-stroke era. He was only 22.

When the FIM, motorcycle racing's international governing body, mandated four-stroke bikes in 2002 for the newly named MotoGP series, Rossi continued his success with another 11 wins and another championship.

The move that stunned the racing industry and gave Rossi an air of invincibility came after the 2003 season when he had won his third championship with all-conquering Honda, only to announce that he was defecting to a struggling Yamaha team.

"That switch took some [guts]," said three-time champion Roberts. "That's what makes him so good, he can take something not competitive, make it competitive and win on it. Yamaha would have made a good bike, but not good enough to win unless it had Valentino on it."

The move had a reverse effect on Honda.

Although Rossi says he switched because he wanted a new challenge, those close to him insist that he was nettled by Honda's attitude that the team's success was due to the bike, not the rider, and that another rider, given Rossi's bike, could win.

It didn't happen. In the first race of 2004, Rossi and the revamped Yamaha finished in front, followed by the Hondas of Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau and Alex Barros.

"It was a miracle," Rossi said on the podium in South Africa.


CONTINUED


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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Go to page 2 and 3 here

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-...ck=1&cset=true


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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And this is fromt he LA times 8)


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 07:59 PM
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sweet read, nice find


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 08:18 PM
 
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This was posted in Sport Illustrated last week also...

------------------------------------

Jonah Freedman: Who the heck is Valentino Rossi?

Who is this rich guy?
Odds are you've never heard of Valentino Rossi


Posted: Wednesday June 29, 2005 12:49PM

Do you know me?

At age 26, I'm Italy's highest-paid athlete -- and I don't play soccer.

I've won my sport's championship the last four years straight, and I'm well on my way to a fifth in a row.

My following is so rabid, fans who came to see me last year literally ignored Michael Jordan to get a glimpse of me.


The name Valentino Rossi probably means nothing to you. He's the biggest star in MotoGP, the world's top motorcycle-racing circuit -- which garners about as much interest in America as curling. But in that world, he's like Jordan, Tiger Woods and Babe Ruth combined.

"In Europe, [Rossi] can't walk down the street," says Chris Ulrich, a professional racer and columnist for Roadracing World magazine.

"In Italy, he's a god," says David Edwards, editor in chief of Cycle World magazine. "And quite legitimately so -- he's the best ever to compete in his sport."

With an estimated income of $24.5 million in 2005, Rossi clocks in at No. 3 on Sports Illustrated's list of the 20 top-earning non-American athletes in the world. That wad of cash puts him behind only ridiculously rich German Formula One racer Michael Schumacher and British soccer pretty-boy David Beckham. Rossi ranks ahead of Beckham's Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo, tennis' Maria Sharapova, even Yao Ming and Sammy Sosa. But you've heard of all them. Why don't you know Rossi?

Because you probably don't live in Italy, where motorcycle-racing is so big, it often eclipses soccer in popularity. Nearly every young Italian teenager starts riding a scooter long before he gets behind the wheel of a car, and the lure of an extremely dangerous sport in which young men ride machines at speeds that routinely exceed 200 mph is irresistable.

And Rossi -- his dominance aside -- is a giant-sized personality, with an irreverent sense of humor that makes him even more popular. He once concluded a win by leaping off his bike during a victory lap and skipping straight to a Port-A-Potty. He's also been known to don a giant afro wig at the winner's podium, or produce rubber chickens and stethoscopes out of his leather protective uniform.

Rossi won his first professional race at age 17 and vaulted up the ranks to MotoGP, the highest level of motorcycle roadracing, by 2000. After just one year, he started his unprecedented run of championships. That's when the riches began.

Rossi jumped ship last year, leaving his Repsol Honda team for the lightly regarded Gauloises Yamaha, which offered him an unheard-of yearly salary of $11 million to help the team win its first title since 1992. Rossi delivered -- and was paid a $5.5 million bonus for his fourth-straight MotoGP championship, cementing his God-like status and earning a level of Italian celebrity reserved for soccer stars like Christian Vieri and Alessandro Del Piero.

"He's considered a national treasure," says Edwards. "I've been to his hometown [of Urbino, in central Italy's Marche region] and they have banners strung across the street that say 'We Love You, Vale.'"

It's these kinds of accolades that have Italian companies salivating to sign Rossi as an endorser for their products. He earns $8 million a year from the likes of racing-gear manufacturers Dainese and AGV, telecom company Alice and chemical-maker Kerakoll.

More important, perhaps, Rossi has contributed to MotoGP's increasing success in Europe -- crowds at Grand Prix events often exceed 100,000. On July 10, he'll make his first American appearance when he races in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. The crowd is expected to be big, but don't expect a groundswell of interest in MotoGP in the U.S., where even NASCAR has only become a huge sport during the last 10 years.

"We put him on the cover of our February issue," says Cycle World's Edwards. "It was our lowest-selling issue in 20 years."

Luckily, Rossi has all of Europe -- literally -- to fall back on.



Valentino Rossi dominates a sport in which he's Jordan, Tiger and the Babe all rolled in one. He'll earn $24.5 million in '05.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 08:18 PM
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fucked up thing is.....

Rossi has never put two wheels on Laguna. I bet he sets a new track record.

All because of PS2.

Now all I need is Willow Springs on PS2!!!!


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 10:11 PM
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lol ps2, that's the best part


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-03-2005, 10:15 PM
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:laugh ive got ps2 so maybe !!!
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-05-2005, 09:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsxcorey
lol ps2, that's the best part

:imwst

LMAO!
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