Valentino Rossi falling may have been a fairly frequent occurrence during his first year in the premier-class - as illustrated by this picture of the Italian spectacularly highsiding from his Nastro Azzurro Honda in 2000 - but the #46 soon adapted to the power of the fearsome 500cc machines and by the time MotoGP turned four-stroke in 2002 a Rossi fall was a rarity.

The switch from Honda to Yamaha from 2004 then saw Rossi forced to push the limits further, losing control several times as a result (lower pics), but the now six-times world champion has only suffered relatively minor injuries during his racing career - despite being the fastest rider in one of the world's most dangerous sports.

Even Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, Rossi's statistical equivalent in Formula One, has broken a leg - and he races encased in space age carbon fibre chassis, equipment with numerous crumple zones. Rossi has a few millimetres of leather separating himself from the hazards around him.

As such, it is perhaps not surprising that the 26-year-old still worries about suffering a nasty accident - but believes that every clever rider is scared, and that fear is needed to keep him on, but not over, the limit.

"We make a lot of work, especially me, for more safety in our sport. Now the bikes are very fast and we try to improve the safety of the circuit with a lot of run-off area everywhere," he said. "But every clever rider, I think, is scared. This is because our sport is dangerous and fear is important to understand the limit - to stay quite near the limit but never go too much."

In an attempt to increase safety further, it has been announced that the engine capacity for MotoGP machines will be cut from 990cc to 800cc from the 2007 season onwards. Does Rossi agree with that move?

"For me, this development - to make the four-stroke 800 - is a good idea because if not the bikes will become too fast," he declared. "Every year the bikes become faster and faster - the development between 2002 and now is incredible. Speed, acceleration, power - the four-stroke development is never ending - it's not like the two-strokes."

Rossi has suffered two minor accidents so far this season, but has stayed on both wheels in all ten races - eight of which he has won to hold a huge 120-point lead with seven races to go.

Visit the MotoGP channel for seven more #46 stories, which complete our 'Rossi day' coverage...