It's a shame that Graziano Rossi is not a great fan of air travel as, for the fourth time out of five, a proud father has missed the chance of celebrating a world title with his son because he will not venture up the steps of the 'silver bird'.

When Valentino Rossi clinched the MotoGP World title at Sepang in Malaysia on Sunday, his father was back home in Italy, albeit living every moment of the race and consequent celebrations through a television screen in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

Only once has one of grands prix racing most celebrated father and son relationships been able to celebrate a world title together. That was in 1997, when Valentino won his first world title, the 125cc crown at Brno in the Czech Republic, just a few hours car drive for Graziano. The other triumphs have come at venues impossible to reach by anything other than aeroplane - and Graziano will not go near them.

Father and son success in grand prix motor cycle racing is nothing new. The most famous family partnership share the same name, Kenny Roberts. It was only after Kenny Roberts Jr emulated his father by winning the 500cc world championship that he dropped the 'Junior' tag. He?d come of age and wanted everybody, including his dad, to realise just that.

They are still the only father and son to win a world title. Kenny Sr won three consecutive 500cc titles between 1978-1980, while Junior brought Suzuki the title in Rio three years ago. His father has no fear of flying, and was there to celebrate with him.

The first father and son to both win grands prix races were the British pair of Les and Stuart Graham. It was right and proper that the first rider to win the 500cc world championship in 1949 should produce the first son to win a grand prix 18 years later. Les won the very first world 500cc title riding the British AJS machine but, sadly, was not alive when son Stuart won the 1967 50cc TT race on the Isle of Man for Suzuki. It was a poignant moment for Stuart, because Les had been killed on the very same 60.721km Mountain circuit in 1953.

Following very closely in their footsteps were the Italian Pagani family. Father Nello won two 500cc grands prix for the Italian Gilera factory in 1949, the same year Graham won the title. His victories came in Assen and Monza. He actually scored more points than Graham but, with only a rider's three best results counting towards the title, Graham won it by a single point.

Nello made up for the 500cc disappointment by winning the very first 125cc world championship the same year for Mondial, following victories in Berne and Assen.

Amazingly, it was again 18 years later that his son, Alberto, scored the first of his three 500cc victories, riding the Linto to victory at Monza. The Second World War meant that both Graham and Pagani Senior were 37 years old before they won their first grands prix, while Stuart Graham was 25 and Alberto Pagani just 21.

It was nearly three decades later that the Rossis became the third father and son to win grands prix. In 1979, father Graziano could have little realised when he won the first of his three grand prix victories riding the 250cc Morbidelli at Rijeka in Yugoslavia, what his son Valentino would go on to achieve. In fact, his son was just five months old when dad beat Australian Greg Hansford that day.

Seventeen years later, Valentino won his first grand prix on the 125cc Aprilia in Brno - and the rest is history.

Right up to date, just last month Pablo Nieto at last won a grand prix race and has just another 89 to go before catching up his father Angel. The 23-year old Spaniard had been waiting five years since his grand prix debut for that day, but won the 125cc race at the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril - first to congratulate him was 13 times world champion Angel.

Just five father and sons have won grand prix races and only the Roberts' family shares a world title in the 54-year history of world championship racing. Perhaps riders during this period have been spending far too long away from home...



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