Valentino Rossi is the only rider left on the MotoGP grid to have also raced in the previous 500cc era.

After winning world titles in the 125 and 250cc classes, the Italian stepped up to the premier-class to pilot the notorious 500cc two-strokes in 2000.

Rossi didn't finish his opening races on the NSR, but climbed the podium at round four and went on to take victories in the UK and Brazil on his way to runner-up behind Kenny Roberts Jr in the world championship.

The Doctor then battled arch-rival Max Biaggi for title glory during the final season of 500cc in 2001, when he also got his first taste of the sport's four-stroke future. And wasn't very impressed.

"I was lucky because I've ridden both the 500 and the MotoGP, but the first time on the Honda 500 impressed me much more than the first ride on the four-stroke Honda," Rossi told SkySport.it.

"I tried it the day after winning the Suzuka 8 hours in 2001. It was red, beautiful, with a black wing, but the performance impressed me less.

"At the beginning it was not so strong, I was quite worried because I thought the 500s would be stronger, I was wrong!"

2002 was a transition season where the new 990cc MotoGP four-strokes went head-to-head with the established 500cc two-strokes.

But the outcome wasn’t even close.

The four-strokes won all 16 races, including eleven victories for Rossi, who was crowned champion by a margin of 140 points.

Honda's RC211V won a total of 14 races that season, while title runner-up Biaggi handed Yamaha a pair of victories for its new M1.

 

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