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It takes one to know one...

"From what I have seen this year Valentino is simply in another league to the other riders, he is very impressive," said Lawson, who attended his first grand prix in several years at Laguna Seca in July (on podium with Rossi in middle pic).

"Above all I am pleased to see Yamaha winning races and titles again. I've still got a lot of friends there and I'm delighted to see them enjoying the success they definitely deserve.

"Records are there to be broken and to be honest I was sure mine would fall much quicker than they are doing. I suppose if there is anybody out there who had to do it, it would be Valentino!"

The man that opened the way for Rainey and Lawson's spectacular world championship achievements was their mentor Kenny Roberts.

The former dirt-track champion revolutionised the way grand prix motorcycles were ridden when he began road racing in 1978 and allowed his compatriots to come through and dominate the sport for almost two decades.

Still heavily involved in MotoGP through running his own team and supporting his son Kenny Jr - the only rider to beat Rossi to a premier-class title - Roberts Sr has kept a close eye on Rossi's achievements throughout his career.

"This year Valentino has had everything covered, he hardly ever makes a mistake," said 'King Kenny'. "In fact, throughout his career I've barely seen him make a mistake, certainly not off the track, and that helps him to stay focused on it.

"He hasn't had terrible motorcycles to ride but everything he rides he wins on... everything. His PR, promotion and merchandising is head and shoulders above anything I would ever dreamt of having, plus he's Italian!

"He's got the whole package and it's great to watch him winning races for Yamaha. To see him racing in the yellow and black colours of Yamaha USA at Laguna Seca earlier this season was a very proud moment for me," KR admitted.

However, the proudest of Yamaha's past world champions and the man probably most comparable to Rossi in terms of talent, charm and racing achievements is Giacomo Agostini, the first true megastar of MotoGP.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Rossi 7 times world champion, Malaysian MotoGP Race 2005
Rossi, Eddie Lawson, US MotoGP Race 2005
Agostini, Mamola, Carruthers, Kenny Roberts Snr, Rainey, Yamaha 50th Year Celebration US MotoGP, 2005
Marquez, Rossi Aragon MotoGP Race 2016
Marquez, Rossi Aragon MotoGP Race 2016
Rossi, Marquez Aragon MotoGP Race 2016
Rossi, Aragon MotoGP Race 2016
Maverick Vinales, Rossi, Marquez Aragon MotoGP Race 2016
Lorenzo, Rossi, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Lorenzo, Rossi, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Marquez, Rossi Aragon MotoGP 2016
Vinales, Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo Aragon MotoGP 2016
Vinales, Rossi, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Lorenzo, Rossi, Dovizioso Aragon MotoGP 2016
Lorenzo, Rossi, Dovizioso, Marquez Aragon MotoGP 2016
Rossi, Aragon MotoGP Race 2016
Rossi, Aragon MotoGP Race 2016

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