Since his return to Yamaha after two wilderness years at Ducati, Valentino Rossi has been through so many seminal career moments that he must be just about drowning in the stuff.
In the space of just five races, the great star of yesteryear has scaled the heights and descaled the depths – the latter more than once.
The latest of these was at home in Italy. Fast on day one, back to the third row in Saturday’s qualifying, and in the gravel after only three corners in the race.
The crash was Alvaro Bautista’s fault, if you believe Rossi. Or Rossi’s fault, if you believe the Spaniard. In the eyes of the authorities in their ivory control tower, it was a no-blame collision, what is euphemistically called “a racing incident.”
In the eyes of a portion of the crowd, it rendered the remaining 23 laps of the race of the year at Mugello insignificant, even invalid. They didn’t leave the track in ones or twos. A colleague arriving late saw a whole busload on the exit road.
Most of the fans stayed, and took part in the usual track invasion for the rostrum ceremony, where Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow stood showering sweat and champagne. The sea of yellow hats and shirts beneath chanted the usual mantra: “Rossi. Rossi. Rossi,” in the hope that he might appear, as he had last year in response to the same shouting, even though he had finished only fifth.
They were to be disappointed.