Rossi rose to the occasion and thrilled the Mugello fans with a total of nine home victories at the picturesque Tuscan track, including a stunning run of seven premier-class wins from 2002-2008.

Here is a look back at some of Rossi’s most memorable Mugello moments, at an event he once compared to the Monaco F1 Grand Prix due to its unmodified, old-style track layout and unique atmosphere.

“Mugello is the most special race of the season for me,” Rossi said during his career. “Misano is great and close to home, but this is more special because the track is fantastic and different to all the others.

"From '96, my first year in the world championship, the Italian Grand Prix has always been at Mugello. But this track was already very famous in the '70s and the layout remains the same.

"That's not normal. Usually you have a lot of tracks with a long history, but with more modifications. But Mugello is Mugello from the '70s.

"So a victory here is special for everybody, but even more for Italian riders because we have the biggest support from the fans.

"And, just like Monaco on race day, the atmosphere, what you see, is something special. Something different from any other place on our calendar.

“When you look out at the fans, especially on Sunday, it is a very emotional feeling. It is important to give more than the maximum.”

The official retirement ceremony of Rossi’s famous #46 will take place on the Mugello main straight at 12:20 on Saturday.

2002 – 1st

Rossi arrived in the premier-class in 2000 as a double world champion and double home Mugello winner (125cc in 1997 and 250cc in 1999). But his first two premier-class appearances ended in bitter disappointed, falling from his 500cc Honda in both 2000 and 2001.

It all came together in style for Rossi on his home debut in the newly renamed ‘MotoGP’ class, powering his 990cc Honda RC211V to a 2.4s victory over arch-rival Max Biaggi (pictured above( to become the first rider to win in all three classes at Mugello.

2003 – 1st

Rossi scored a repeat Mugello victory in 2003 as the home fans got to enjoy the first ever all-Italian podium at the track, with Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and Max Biaggi (Honda) joining The Doctor on the rostrum.

2003 was also Rossi’s final home appearance for Honda, but the Mugello magic continued with a first Yamaha win in 2004, during a restarted six-lap battle, the shortest premier-class race of all-time.

2005 – 1st

If the Mugello fans thought the 2003 home podium sweep was memorable, 2005 saw Rossi lead home an all-Italian top four ahead of Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri.

It was the first time since 1968 that Italian riders had filed the top four in a premier-class race.

Biaggi had been able to stick with Rossi right to the flag, bowing his head in anger as he crossed the finish line just 0.3secs behind the jubilant #46, who mounted the podium with a 'mortar board' on his head - a reference to a recent honorary doctorate from an Italian university.

2006 – 1st

Rossi’s 2006 Mugello victory is considered by many to have been not only his greatest at the track, but one of the best races of the 990cc era.

That year’s M1 had major handling issues and Rossi arrived at his home round sitting just eighth in the world championship and having failed to finish the previous two rounds.

The race was to prove a non-stop fist fight, Rossi battling with the likes of Sete Gibernau (Ducati) and Marco Melandri (Honda) for supremacy in the opening half before a mistake at turn one saw him drop to fifth with 8 laps to go.

Rossi was back within striking distance of the lead within a few laps, but now faced the red rocket of countryman Capirossi, who batted away Rossi's many attempts to pass, until a surprise move on the penultimate lap.

Ducati horsepower put the home heroes side-by-side along the main straight as the last lap began - but Capirossi then ran slightly wide under braking. An exhausted Rossi held his nerve to win by half-a-second from Capirossi, with Honda’s Nicky Hayden just 0.7s behind to complete a popular podium.

The much-missed American memorably wore a red wig borrowed from one of the Alice girls during the podium celebrations!

2008 – 1st

After equalling Mick Doohan’s record of six successive Mugello victories in 2007, the debut year of the new 800cc engines, Rossi claimed what would be his final Mugello win in 2008.

Riding with arguably the best of his home helmet designs, the Italian put his fans into seventh heaven with a 2.2s victory over Ducati’s reigning world champion Casey Stoner, with Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in third.

2014 – 3rd

Rossi’s victory streak had finally come to an end in 2009, when he finished third behind Casey Stoner (Ducati) and Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

Little did they know, but the Mugello fans wouldn’t see Rossi on the podium again until 2014.

By then, a lot of water had passed under the bridge. A leg breaking accident at Mugello 2010 being followed by the barren Ducati years, then an opening lap crash with Alvaro Bautista on Rossi’s 2013 home Yamaha comeback.

Tenth in qualifying for the 2014 event suggested the podium drought might well continue, but the usual wave of home support cheered Rossi through the field on his 300th grand prix start to claim a comfortable third place, as Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo duelled for victory.

2018 – 3rd

Rossi had made it back-to-back Mugello podiums in 2015, before a frustrating engine failure while shadowing team-mate and race leader Jorge Lorenzo in 2016.

Another podium then slipped away with a fourth place in 2017, when Rossi was braving the pain of chest and stomach injuries from a motocross training accident.

But the 2018 Mugello round would prove to be a milestone weekend.

Not only was it to produce Rossi’s final pole position, marking the last time the now 39-year-old could outshine his much younger rivals for raw speed, but The Doctor then went on to take his 13th and last Mugello rostrum in a race best remembered for Jorge Lorenzo's first Ducati win.

“It was a long time without a pole position because last year [2017] we never had one and this year I have never been on the front row,” Rossi said.

“I hoped for the podium but didn’t know if I could do it, so I‘m very happy. It remained difficult to secure it until the very last lap, because Iannone didn‘t give up, but at the end it's a great feeling here in Mugello.”

Valentino Rossi’s Mugello results:

1996: 4th (125cc, Aprilia)

1997: 1st (125cc, Aprilia)

1998: 2nd (250cc, Aprilia)

1999: 1st (250cc, Aprilia)

2000: 12th (500cc, Honda)

2001: DNF (500cc, Honda)

2002: 1st (990cc, Honda)

2003: 1st (990cc, Honda)

2004: 1st (990cc, Yamaha)

2005: 1st (990cc, Yamaha)

2006: 1st (990cc, Yamaha)

2007: 1st (800cc, Yamaha)

2008: 1st (800cc, Yamaha)

2009: 3rd (800cc, Yamaha)

2010: DNS (800cc, Yamaha)

2011: 6th (800cc, Ducati)

2012: 5th (1000cc Ducati)

2013: DNF (1000cc Yamaha)

2014: 3rd (1000cc Yamaha)

2015: 3rd (1000cc Yamaha)

2016: DNF (1000cc Yamaha)

2017: 4th (1000cc Yamaha)

2018: 3rd (1000cc Yamaha)

2019: DNF (1000cc Yamaha)

2020: Event cancelled due to Covid

2021: 10th (1000cc Yamaha)