Formalising a status that’s been known and acknowledged for years, Valentino Rossi is officially a MotoGP Legend and has been inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame.
Just a few hours after he rode his 432nd and last grand prix race at the 2021 season finale in Valencia, a special ceremony as part of the FIM MotoGP Awards saw the newly-retired nine-time World Champion receive his Legends medallion from Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.
"The only thing I can say to Vale is thank you very much. It’s been amazing since 1997 in Malaysia, we saw a guy doing fantastic races but also very special for so many reasons,” said Ezpeleta.
"First of all, Valentino has been an incredible rider. Even at 42, he was within tenths of Fabio (Quartararo). But also, his personality, the situation he’s helped us to create, the Safety Commission, it’s something very special. These are all the words I can say. Grazie, Valentino!"
Rossi joins a list of 31 other MotoGP Legends that include names like Giacomo Agostini, Carlo Ubbiali, Mick Doohan, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Wayne Gardner, Jorge Martinez, Barry Sheene, Kevin Schwantz, Phil Read, Kenny Roberts and many others.
Some of Rossi’s racing contemporaries, like Casey Stoner and the late Marco Simoncelli and Nicky Hayden, have also been inducted as MotoGP Legends.
"I always think of this day like a nightmare, because it’s the end of a long career and I think it would be in Valencia, but in the end, I enjoyed it a lot, so I have to thank everyone, everyone who has worked with me, the whole paddock, the other riders,” Rossi said.
“It was an unforgettable day and I enjoyed it. It was a long career, and always a pleasure."
Being made a MotoGP Legend is a fitting end to Valentino Rossi’s 26-year grand prix career that includes 115 race wins, 235 podiums and 65 pole starts across 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP classes.
As well as the nine World Championships, Rossi holds several records in grand prix racing, but beyond the pure numbers, the 42-year-old is credited with broadening the appeal of motorcycle racing worldwide through his personality and post-race antics.
Valentino Rossi – selected facts and stats
- Rossi holds the record for the most grand prix race starts at 432. Andrea Dovizioso is the next best with 332 (as of the end of 2021).
- Of Rossi’s 432 race starts, 372 were in the premier class, with 30 each in 250cc and 125cc classes.
- Rossi holds the record for 500cc/MotoGP race wins, with 89. The next best is Giacomo Agostini with 68 premier class wins. Marc Marquez has 59 (as of the end of 2021).
- While Rossi has more premier class wins, Agostini has more race wins overall – 122 to 115.
- Rossi holds the record for podiums across all classes with 235. Next best is Giacomo Agostini with 159.
- Rossi’s premier class podium tally is 199. Next best is Jorge Lorenzo with 114.
- Between the 2002 Portuguese GP and 2004 South African GP, Rossi finished on the podium in every race – a string of 23 consecutive top-three finishes.
- Rossi is the only rider to win world championships in four GP classes – 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP.
- Rossi is one of only two riders to win world championships in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc classes. Phil Read is the other.
- Rossi is one of only two riders to have won premier class titles on both two-stroke and four-stroke machinery. Giacomo Agostini is the other.
- Rossi won races on seven different motorcycles across his career – 125cc Aprilia, 250cc Aprilia, 500cc Honda, 990cc Honda, 990cc Yamaha, 800cc Yamaha and 1000cc Yamaha.
- Rossi is one of only two riders to win back-to-back premier class titles on different machinery - Honda and Yamaha in 2003/04. Eddie Lawson is the other, on Yamaha and Honda in 1988/89.
- For Honda, Rossi achieved their 500th GP win, while for Yamaha, Rossi achieved the most wins in a single season to date - 11 in 2005.
- Rossi is currently Yamaha’s most successful rider in the premier class, with 56 of his 89 wins achieved on a Yamaha.
- Rossi has the longest winning career in the premier class – his first coming in 2000 and his last in 2017.
- Of the 38 different circuits he has raced at across all classes, Rossi has won at least one race at 29 of them.
- Rossi’s most successful circuits have been Catalunya and Assen, with ten wins apiece.