Crash.Net MotoGP News
Valentino Rossi: 2000 NSR to 2016 M1
7 July 2014
Valentino Rossi's new two-year Yamaha contract confirms that the Italian superstar will compete under MotoGP's revised 2016 technical rules, involving a single ECU and new Michelin control tyres.
It will be the latest major technical change in a remarkable career that began on a 500cc two-stroke Honda NSR in 2000 (pictured, see below for the full list of Rossi's bike-tyre combinations).
A world champion in the 125 and 250cc classes, Rossi took his first premier-class title in the final season of 500cc (2001), added two further successive crowns on the V5-powered RC212V four-stroke, then made it five in a row with instant success in his opening two seasons on the inline four-cylinder Yamaha YZR-M1.
A surprise title defeat to Honda's Nicky Hayden at the 2006 season finale was followed by a then-worst third in the standings during the debut season of the 800cc rules. A switch to Bridgestone tyres helped Rossi return to the top in 2008, adding a seventh title in 2009, the first year of control tyre rules.
Rising team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was a formidable opponent in the early races of 2010, with a leg-breaking accident ending Rossi's hopes. The change to Ducati proved disastrous, with only three podiums in two years, prompting Rossi to cut his losses and make a winning return to Yamaha in 2013.
But the Assen victory aside, Rossi often struggled to keep pace with Lorenzo and Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
A shock change of crew chief, Jerry Burgess being replaced by Silvano Galbusera, signalled that Rossi wasn't content to lay a supporting role and - while Marquez is unbeaten so far in 2014 - Rossi has finished runner-up in four of the eight events to be joint second on points with Pedrosa.
Rossi, who - aside from his 2010 injury - had never been beaten by a team-mate in the championship standings, finished a soul-searching 93 points behind Lorenzo last season. That was despite the Spaniard missing a race and riding injured at several events.
With that in mind few would have predicted that Rossi would be 47 points ahead of Lorenzo as the midway mark of this season arrives at the Sachsenring.
Being competitive was Rossi's criteria for continuing his illustrious career, while the Ducati experience meant the #46 had no interest in leaving Yamaha, with whom he took a significant pay cut to re-join in 2013.
Rossi already holds the all-time record for premier-class race wins (80), while his seven 500cc/MotoGP titles is only one behind Giacomo Agostini. Rossi is also second to Agostini for wins in all grand prix classes, with 106 victories since his 125cc debut in 1996. Agostini claimed 122 victories between 1964-1977.
Rossi, 36 by the start of next season, will take over from the soon-to-retire Colin Edwards as the oldest rider on the MotoGP grid. Despite almost five years having passed since his most recent title, Rossi remains by far the most popular and recognisable rider in MotoGP.
To put Rossi's planned 17-year premier-class career into perspective, if Marquez was to repeat the feat he would need to remain in MotoGP until the end of the 2029 season!
'The Doctor' joins Marquez in confirming his MotoGP future, leaving the likes of Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) as the big names still to confirm their plans.
The return of Suzuki adds a further twist to the remaining 2015 negotiations, with the factory setting its sights on at least one top rider.
Valentino Rossi: 500cc/MotoGP Career Summary:
2000: Honda 500cc two-stroke, Michelin tyres (2 wins, 2nd overall).
2001: Honda 500cc two-stroke, Michelin tyres (11 wins, Champion).
2002: Honda 990cc four-stroke, Michelin tyres (11 wins, Champion).
2003: Honda 990cc four-stroke, Michelin tyres (9 wins, Champion).
2004: Yamaha 990cc four-stroke, Michelin tyres (9 wins, Champion).
2005: Yamaha 990cc four-stroke, Michelin tyres (11 wins, Champion).
2006: Yamaha 990cc four-stroke, Michelin tyres (5 wins, 2nd overall).
2007: Yamaha 800cc four-stroke, Michelin tyres (4 wins, 3rd overall).
2008: Yamaha 800cc four-stroke, Bridgestone tyres (9 wins, Champion).
2009: Yamaha 800cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres (6 wins, Champion).
2010: Yamaha 800cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres (2 wins, 3rd overall).
2011: Ducati 800cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres (0 wins, 7th overall).
2012: Ducati 1000cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres (0 wins, 6th overall).
2013: Yamaha 1000cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres (1 win, 4th overall).
2014: Yamaha 1000cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres (0 wins, 2nd overall)*
2015: Yamaha 1000cc four-stroke, Bridgestone control tyres.
2016: Yamaha 1000cc four-stroke, Michelin control tyres and control ECU system.
* After eight rounds.