Viewers on DStv have been treated to a brilliant 2021 MotoGP World Championship. With the season wrapping up this month, we take a closer look at the behind-the-scenes details which make this, the fastest sport on two wheels, so fascinating and engrossing.
With the major prizes in MotoGP all wrapped up before this final round, attention turns to bidding farewell to an all-time great of the sport: Valentino Rossi. The 42-year-old Italian will be retiring from MotoGP once the Valencian GP wraps up on the afternoon of Sunday 14 November, bringing down the curtain on a 22-year spell in the premier class of motorcycle racing.
In fact, Rossi's career started way back in 1996 when he first rode in the 125cc (now Moto3) class, winning the World Championship the following year, before two seasons in the 250cc (now Moto2) class, with another world title in 1999, before the final move up to the 500cc (now MotoGP) in 2000.
Rossi will be remembered as one of the greatest bike riders in motorsport history and the statistics back up this claim: he won seven MotoGP World Championships (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009), racked up 89 wins, 199 podiums, 55 pole positions, 76 fastest laps and well over 5,000 career points.
Yet the numbers do not capture the joy, fun and enthusiasm which was characteristic of Rossi's career: he was a ruthless and brilliant racer, but always enjoyed a joke or prank – even at his own expense! – and will be remembered as much for his laughter and smile as he was for his sheer speed, mercurial riding skills and the iconic number 46 on the front of his bike.
The Italian had several great rivalries through his career, most notably with compatriot Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stone, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez, who many see as the successor to Rossi as the greatest rider of his generation.
"Valentino has had tougher rivals than me. He has fought with Biaggi, Gibernau, Lorenzo. What Valentino has done for the history of MotoGP is very good. The motivation in my career depends a lot on my rivals," said Marquez in honour of Rossi.
For all his success, Rossi has explained that when he looks back on his career, the most important thing he learned is how to work with others and truly be a part of a greater whole.
"For me, when you do sport since you were a child, you learn a lot from sport – also from your person in daily life. I always enjoyed it, I had a great experience," explained the veteran.
"You’re alone on the bike, but in the end our sport is a team sport, so you learn to work with a team of people who are normally very high level – engineers, mechanics, everything.
"And that’s good, it’s a great experience that makes you grow and makes you stronger, smarter, you understand how to learn from the good things of others. I think this is the best I’ve learned in all these years."
Rossi may be stepping away from his role as a rider, but his involvement with Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP will still remain strong, as he is the owner of the VR46 team and has an academy which promotes promising young riders into the junior categories – further underlining his legacy in motorcycle racing.
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MotoGP, Valencian Grand Prix broadcast details, 13-14 November 2021
All times CAT
Saturday 13 November
- 15:05: Qualifying – LIVE on SuperSport Motorsport and SuperSport Maximo 1
Sunday 14 November
- 14:55: Race – LIVE on SuperSport Motorsport and SuperSport Maximo 1