Superheroes never get old. They go on forever. Or until the public tires of them. Then if they’re lucky (i.e. Batman), they get re-invented.
Racing has as many superheroes as fiction, but less pity. Any re-invention has to be with the same ingredients that created the stature in the first place: speed, victories and championships.
Valentino Rossi’s re-invention has massive public support. The fans still love him.
It also has the support of a forgiving Yamaha, who welcomed him home again two years after he’d walked out in a huff.
It’s matched by his own efforts: remaining cheerful – even exultant (at least outwardly) when Marc Marquez stuffed him with a copy of his own merciless move at Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew. And he keeps on trying.
Trouble is, the momentum is proving elusive. More than half the season has gone, and aside from a burst of glory at Assen, time has turned Rossi into a fourth-place rider.
I don’t believe his fans will ever desert him. Hope not, anyway. He’s done enough and more to enshrine himself in the gallery of all-time superheroes. All the while concealing his deadly killer instinct behind a personality dripping with charm and humor. But the fourth places are chipping away at his pedestal.