3 - Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi only rode one race fully fit in 2010, the first round at Qatar which he won.

Thereafter the Italian nursed first a shoulder injury, from a motocross training accident, and then a broken leg, suffered at round four in Italy.

Absent for four races, Rossi made an early return in Germany and came within a few tenths of a podium. The rostrum return came next time out at Laguna Seca, but it took until Sepang (round 15) for Rossi to win for the second and final time in 2010.

But Rossi didn't need to be on the top step of the podium to make his presence felt. His bar-banging ride against Jorge Lorenzo at Motegi, and a near repeat for another third place with Nicky Hayden at Phillip Island proved that Rossi, even in reduced fitness, is the master of close combat.

So why did we rank Rossi third, where he finished in the championship. Why not fourth, why not second?

We've explained why Casey Stoner remained fourth, and - despite the physical adversity suffered by Rossi - we simply couldn't justify placing the seven time MotoGP champion above either Dani Pedrosa or Jorge Lorenzo.

Unlike Rossi, both Pedrosa and Lorenzo enjoyed the most successful seasons of their MotoGP careers in 2010. They also won more races than Rossi and were the most successful riders on their respective brands of motorcycle.

Statistics - Valentino Rossi:

Team: Fiat YamahaBike: Yamaha YZR-M1

Championship position: 3rdPoints: 233

Race starts: 14 (out of 18)Pole positions: 1Victories: 2Podiums: 10Fastest laps: 2Best result: 1st (Losail, Sepang))Points finishes: 14

Crash.net's Top 10 MotoGP riders of 2010:
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Casey Stoner
5. Ben Spies
6. Andrea Dovizioso
7. Nicky Hayden
8. Marco Simoncelli
9. Randy de Puniet
10. Alvaro Bautista



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