Reigning six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi celebrates his 30th birthday today (Monday, February 16).
The record-breaking Italian finished sixth on his grand prix debut in the season-opening 1996 Malaysian 125GP, then took his first podium in his tenth race (Austria) and his first win in his eleventh (Czech Republic).
Rossi won the 125cc World Championship at his second attempt, a feat he repeated in the 250cc class in 1999. All Rossi's 125 and 250cc wins were with Aprilia.
The Doctor made his premier-class debut with Honda in 2000 and, after failing to finish his first two races, took a debut podium at round four (Spain) and a debut victory at round nine (Donington Park) before claiming second in the championship.
The #46 won the last 500cc World Championship in 2001, then the first MotoGP World Championship in 2002, riding Honda's new RC211V. Rossi retained his crown in 2003, then made the shock move to Yamaha for 2004.
Rossi's close victory from pole in the season-opening Africa's Grand Prix remains one of the most memorable races seen in MotoGP, and he finished the season with eight more wins to become Yamaha's first premier-class world champion since Wayne Rainey in 1992.
2005 brought eleven wins and a fifth consecutive 500cc/MotoGP title, but technical problems, accidents and injuries contributed to Rossi's dream run ending in 2006, when he lost out to Nicky Hayden in the Valencia title decider.
The first year of 800cc racing was then dominated by Ducati's new star Casey Stoner, while Rossi slumped to a MotoGP worst of third in the championship and demanded changes.
Yamaha responded with a far more effective YZR-M1 for 2008, while Rossi joined Stoner on Bridgestone tyres. The result was nine wins and 16 podiums from 18 races, and an eighth world championship.
Rossi has now won 97 victories in all grand prix classes and has more premier-class wins (71) than any other rider in history. However Rossi is still two titles short of Giacomo Agostini's all-time record of eight 500cc World Championships.
Rossi also sits second to Agostini in terms of race wins in all grand prix classes (122) while his eight world titles in all classes is the fifth highest haul behind Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali (9), Angel Nieto (13) and Agostini (15).
Rossi's Yamaha MotoGP contract lasts until the end of the 2010 season.