One of the most influential figures in the brilliant career of Valentino Rossi has been his famously laid back father Graziano, himself a former racer who - despite his son's fame - sleeps in the back of a BMW estate when he attends MotoGPs.

Graziano won three 250GPs on his way to third in the 1979 world championship with Morbidelli, then claimed two podiums to finish fifth overall in the 1980 500cc series with Suzuki. But just how important has he been to Valentino's career?

"First he was important because he gave me the passion for the bike," said Rossi of his father. "Maybe if Graziano make another work or another sport I wouldn't have had this passion to be a rider. Also, when I started racing he knew a lot of people and it was more easy for me to find the first bike, so I have a good chance for sure."

And does Rossi still get advice from Graziano?

"I speak a lot with him because he is clever and always gives me clever advice," said Vale. "When I first started riding, when he said something I didn't listen - because I was young - but now I listen more, I think that is normal. We don't speak so much about riding now, but more about tactics for the race. He also tells me to try to always understand something when I'm riding."

Nevertheless, Rossi then revealed that Graziano perhaps needs to follow some of that advice himself - and that his father's own wild style hasn't mellowed with age.

"Yes - he was quite crazy (on a bike) and also now when he goes on a bike, or sometimes in the car, it is like he has lost a little bit of the concentration - he always makes big mistakes when he races!" smiled Valentino.

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