Franco Morbidelli is set to make history for the VR46 Riders Academy once, and perhaps twice, in the near future.

The Italian is now certain to become the first Academy rider to reach MotoGP, having signed to step-up to the premier-class with Marc VDS.

And Morbidelli also looks on course to become the Academy's first world champion, holding a commanding 34-point lead over nearest rival Thomas Luthi at the halfway stage of the season.

So how does friend and mentor Valentino Rossi feel about racing with Morbidelli in MotoGP next year?

"I've known Franco for a long time now. I think that he was one of the first riders in the Riders Academy," Rossi said. "His mother is from Brazil, his father is from Rome. But his father was a former rider and moved to Tavullia, because he wanted to put Franco in a good position to make him a rider.

"Franco's father went to Graziano, and said, 'is it possible to help Franco?' So the first time I saw Franco was with my father, a long time ago, and he started to train with me and with Marco Simoncelli on the 450. From that moment we became friends.

"I think he has a great potential. He has a great talent and he can do very well. This year he demonstrated that a lot. When we train together, he's a big problem, always. So I think he will be a big problem for everybody in MotoGP!"

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