From the 2000 British Grand Prix to the 2017 Dutch TT (and counting), Valentino Rossi tops the all-time list for most world championship race wins in MotoGP’s premier class to give him a multitude of options for which could be his best.

While Crash.net has taken a look through Rossi’s closest wins, defining the best of his victories can create enough debate to last almost as long as the wait for the start of the 2020 MotoGP season during the coronavirus pandemic.

Picking out the firm favourites from the 89 wins notched up so far, it is time to decide which makes Rossi’s finest hour.

Let us know in the comments below which is your favourite and try to rank them in order.

2000 British Grand Prix – Donington Park

Following a tempered start to his 500cc career, compared to Rossi’s rapid rise in the 125cc and 250cc ranks, the Italian had to wait until his ninth race before reaching the top step in the premier class.

After qualifying in fourth place, Rossi’s race was almost over before it truly began as he got his Honda sideways in the drive off the starting grid in wet conditions at Donington Park which dropped him down to 13th place by the first corner.

But with Rossi regaining his composure and finding the limits of grip in the tricky conditions, he made quick work of charging through the pack, following a certain Jeremy McWilliams on the Aprilia, before taking second place off the Ulsterman at half-race distance.

Getting past McWilliams released Rossi to pursue Kenny Roberts Jnr on the Suzuki as a dry line emerged on track. But not to be outdone at his home race, McWilliams bolted into the lead with Rossi following him through past Roberts with 12 laps to go.

British hopes of a home winner were dampened with four laps to go when Rossi took the lead off McWilliams braking into the Melbourne Loop, as the Italian used his Honda’s superior power to sprint clear over the final laps to secure his maiden 500cc race win.

2001 Australian Grand Prix – Phillip Island

On the cusp of his first premier class world title, Valentino Rossi went to Phillip Island needing to finish in either first or second place to seal the crown with two rounds to spare.

Max Biaggi was his sole remaining challenger and despite starting from pole position he dropped down the pecking order early on, leaving Rossi to battle for the lead against Alex Barros.

But with Phillip Island’s circuit characteristics producing the typically closely contested race, a five-rider fight broke out including Rossi and Biaggi. That was the case until mid-race distance when Rossi began to pull clear of his rivals who were scrapping for the podium places.

Biaggi responded to bridge the gap and retake the lead from Rossi with 10 laps to go which duly brought the chasing pack back into contention.

Biaggi and Rossi continued to trade overtakes for the lead in the closing laps but the Doctor could remain composed knowing second place to his rival would still be enough to seal the title. But on the final lap, Rossi wiped the nose of Biaggi into the MG corner and held on for victory by just 0.013s (to date Rossi’s smallest ever winning margin) to take the title in style.

Photo Credit: Gold and Goose Photography

2003 Australian Grand Prix – Phillip Island

Another Phillip Island classic with five heavyweights fighting for victory as Marco Melandri, Sete Gibernau, Loris Capirossi and Nicky Hayden took the fight to Rossi.

Rossi looked to set the early pace but his advantage was destroyed by a 10-second time penalty for overtaking Melandri under yellow flags waved following a heavy crash for Troy Bayliss.

But quick work from his pit wall instructed the Italian that he needed a 10-second gap to effectively neutralise the penalty at the end of the race.

Rossi duly demonstrated his world title credentials by pulling out the required time, coming almost at will with his rivals losing time fighting for positions behind him, until Capirossi broke free in pursuit of the Italian.

But nothing would stop Rossi on the day as he stormed to victory by an aggregate time of 5.212s and used the cooldown lap to pay tribute to the late Barry Sheene during his celebrations.

2004 South Africa Grand Prix – Welkom

Certainly one of the most emotional wins in Rossi’s career, as he made his Yamaha debut after moving on from Honda following his three successive premier class world titles.

Starting from pole position, Rossi was pursued by bitter rivals Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau with the Italian keeping closest to the reigning world champion.

But to the surprise of most of the MotoGP paddock, Rossi was instantly on the pace with the Yamaha following a short winter of adaptation to send out an ominous warning of what was to come.

Biaggi, to his credit, fought Rossi for the entire race with the pair trading overtake at Welkom as he looked to spoil his rivals’ dream debut, but Rossi held on to become the first rider in history to win consecutive MotoGP races on different manufacturers.

The feat proved too much for Rossi who was in tears on the cooldown lap to create the iconic first image of the Italian’s Yamaha years.

Photo Credit: Gold and Goose Photography

2008 United States Grand Prix – Laguna Seca

Having seen off most of his rivals across the early stage of his premier class career, a new generation were challenging his domination in the shape of Nicky Hayden (2006 world champion) and Casey Stoner (2007 world champion).

Looking to regain his crown, Rossi faced off against Stoner in an all-time classic at the iconic Laguna Seca circuit.

On the opening lap Rossi gave chase to Stoner, pulling off his first overtake at the braking into the Corkscrew, which hinted at what was to come.

On Lap 4 Rossi repeated the move down the Corkscrew in arguably one the most famous overtakes in the sport’s history as the Italian ran over the kerb and off the track coming down the steep banking to keep the lead against Stoner.

With Stoner demonstrating superior pace in practice, Rossi took every opportunity to keep in front of the Australian rider to trigger an almighty back and forth between the pair over the opening laps.

With nine laps to go, Stoner pressed Rossi even harder forcing the Yamaha rider into an incredible defensive move around the outside before the Ducati rider braked too late for Turn 11 and came off behind Rossi.

That allowed the Italian to ease to victory and deliver a key psychological blow against his rival in the fight for the 2008 title.

2009 Catalan Grand Prix – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Another of the one-on-one battles against an emerging challenger, this time it was Yamaha team-mates taking on each other with Jorge Lorenzo looking to beat Valentino Rossi in Barcelona.

The Yamaha pair produced untouchable race pace from the start to shake off the chasing Casey Stoner on the Ducati, with Rossi leading his team-mate until Lorenzo started to make his move in the final five laps.

That erupted an all-out attack from both riders to keep the lead which duly produced some of the greatest racing witnessed in the modern MotoGP era.

The last lap alone makes for two minutes of pure drama. Lorenzo charging by using the slipstream on the main straight, Rossi around the outside at Turn 3 before switching back to the inside at Turn 4 only to have Lorenzo bite back on the exit of Turn 4.

With no way through at Turn 10, Rossi had to create an overtake never witnessed before at the Montmelo track.

Under braking to the final corner, Rossi tucked inside Lorenzo having been shown the tightest of lines and held it together to charge to the chequered flag by 0.095s to the amazement of the entire crowd.

The race also represented another battle for control of the MotoGP championship, with Rossi, Lorenzo and Stoner tied on points at the end of the race.

Both Rossi and Lorenzo jumped out of parc ferme to celebrate in front of the crowds in the main grandstand as tensions between the pair continued to rise.

2013 Dutch TT – Assen

Following his disappointing two-year stint at Ducati, Rossi returned to Yamaha looking to rediscover former glories and arriving at Assen with just one podium from the opening six rounds his performances hadn’t started to sparkle like in previous years on the M1.

With Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo racing with a broken collarbone, all hopes rested with the Italian who slotted into fourth place on the opening lap behind Repsol Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez plus LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl.

After making quick work of getting by Bradl, Rossi drafted past Marquez on the main straight having seen Pedrosa pulling a gap in the lead, but within two laps Rossi charged into the lead under braking for the Geert Trimmer chicane.

While the race didn’t produce the frantic overtaking or late race action of his previous wins, the dominant display from Rossi saw him comfortably charge to his 80th premier class win and eighth success at Assen – ending a two-and-a-half-year win drought.

Photo Credit: Gold and Goose Photography

2015 Dutch TT – Assen

In the dramatic and often controversial 2015 campaign, Rossi’s greatest hour came at Assen in a showdown against Marc Marquez.

Somewhat uncharacteristically for Rossi over the latter stage of his career, the Italian started from pole position and held on the lead in the sprint to the first corner.

With Marquez in hot pursuit, the action erupted with seven laps to go when the Repsol Honda rider dived into the lead under braking for the first turn. Rossi used the opportunity to assess the Spaniard’s strong and weak points around Assen and with three laps to go he bolted back into the lead up the inside at Mandeven.

Rossi’s attempted breakaway gave him brief respite, setting his personal best lap on the penultimate lap, but Marquez was far from beaten. Clawing back time over the final lap, Marquez launched himself up the inside at the final chicane looking to push Rossi aside.

But the Italian held his nerve to keep track position to see the pair bash fairings, sending the Italian skipping across the gravel trap to take the chequered flag ahead of the Repsol Honda rider and seal his 85th career win in the top class.

Which of Rossi’s wins comes out on top as his greatest of all time? Is it one from this list or another that missed out? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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