Uccio Salucci replies to critics: “I was annoyed people said ‘Rossi’s parasite’”

Uccio Salucci remains a key figure by Valentino Rossi’s side - but he had to battle past some toxic criticism in the past.
Rossi, Salucci, Austrian MotoGP
Rossi, Salucci, Austrian MotoGP

Rossi’s best friend, an ever-present alongside the legendary rider in several different roles, was chastised as a hanger-on.

Over two decades later he is the team manager of Rossi’s VR46 MotoGP team and a veteran of the paddock himself, but it wasn’t always that way.

Salucci told Sky about the criticism he became accustomed to receiving during Rossi’s rise: "If I think about it now, I have to say that I was 19 years old at the time and people who were older than me annoyed me. 

“I didn't take it well, it bothered me. 

“But then as I grew up, already at 23-24 years old I asked myself if I was doing something wrong. I replied to myself that instead I was only honestly doing my part for Vale and for this sport. 

“So I was able to think with my head and I continued to do my job, driving Vale's motorhome, keeping everything in place for him, helping him with appointments at the track and at home, also giving him some advice. 

“I had fun. 

“Since I was with Valentino I became more famous. 

“I was annoyed that many people said: 'parasite' but the others were the assistant. Why couldn't I be one too? No, I was a..."

Valentino Rossi, Uccio Salucci, Spanish MotoGP, 29 April
Valentino Rossi, Uccio Salucci, Spanish MotoGP, 29 April

Salucci has enjoyed a unique experience of remaining side-by-side with a childhood friend who became a worldwide sporting icon.

Even after Rossi’s retirement, and through Salucci’s changing jobs, they remain tight.

"I've always understood that I'm a lucky person from an early age, as a boy, and this has been one of my strong points,” he reflected. 

“However, if once I got to the races I hadn't worked well, hadn't done things as I should, I would have been stayed home immediately. 

“If when Vale arrived he had found the motorhome dirty and with things not in their place, or I had thrown it into a ditch, I wouldn't have stayed. Like the others, in short. 

“In the end I always had fun and we did good for Vale and this sport. 

“And then it must be said that we have given work to a lot of people. I was the first employee, now there are almost 100 of us, actually 98 or 99, I think.”

Salucci’s closeness to his friend enabled him to speak to Rossi differently to anybody else.

"When you experience certain emotions together, good or bad, for so many years together you are forced to unite,” he said. 

“Many times at the races I said: 'Look, in my opinion we made a mistake here, it would have been better to do it this way' and the next time I saw from the TV that he did it. 

“These are things that give you strength and security, they gave it to both me and him. 

“It made me very happy to see that he often listened to me. 

“Outside the GPs I remember that we placed our suitcases in our houses and after two minutes we already spoke on the phone. 

“My mother told me that after being with him for a week I could also spend a bit with her, but instead I went out and we met at the bar!”

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