Valentino Rossi is the very definition of the term living legend. Before he had even turned 30, the Italian megastar was widely recognized as the ‘Greatest of All Time’ by fans, media, and rivals alike. Just a few short years ago, Rossi’s opponents openly marveled at his skills and felt almost no shame when trounced by him in those days.
Along with his remarkable riding talents, Rossi was also blessed with rare charisma which gave him unprecedented crossover appeal. Rossi put MotoGP on his back and carried it to previously unattainable heights, while adding to his personal fame and fortune along the way.
Following the 2005 season, in which he secured a fifth consecutive 500GP/MotoGP title (his seventh world championship in all), Rossi seemingly had nothing left to prove on two wheels. Then just 27, he openly flirted with a future in Formula 1 or the World Rally Championship.
Had he left MotoGP at that point, it would have been the ultimate mic drop; there would be very little debate concerning his placement in motorcycle racing history today.
Instead, Rossi decided to stay true to his first love. He chased after new challenges in MotoGP and was simultaneously confronted with a new breed of challengers who chased after him. Since that time — a time that now represents more than half of his premier-class career, Rossi has continued to add to his legend, but he’s also been humbled on occasion and made to appear… well, mortal.
But has his legacy been altered as a result? Should Valentino Rossi still go down as the greatest to have ever thrown a leg over a Grand Prix motorcycle or is it fair to reevaluate his exact placement in the annals?
While an unquestionably subjective topic, let’s consider the question from a few different angles.
To read more of the Valentino Rossi feature in this week’s Cycle News, click here