Valentino Rossi joined other great motorsports champions from the past and present in an inauguration ceremony for a new, ultramodern paddock structure at England’s Silverstone Circuit. The Silverstone Wing, as the British venue’s enormous new facility is called, comprises spacious garages, a media center, offices, and an auditorium, and it will host the seventh round of the MotoGP world championship on June 12.
Rossi, who missed the track’s 2010 round due to injury, used the occasion to turn some introductory laps with a World Superbike 1198 and, while that bike was in the garage for a check of its electronics, with a standard 1198 street bike, complete with license plate and mirrors. The Italian greatly enjoyed his track time—about thirty laps in all—as a way to get to know the circuit.
“I really had fun,” said Valentino Rossi before leaving for Italy. “After a few laps with the 1198 Superbike, we had a problem with the electronics and decided to use the 1198 street bike that Ducati’s UK affiliate rushed to us. I really liked riding that bike here. The track is nice—difficult and very technical. It makes you work hard because there are very fast sections where having the right trajectory is important, and others that are very narrow where you have to have good grip under acceleration. The first turn is completely blind, and you must hold a very precise line, and in general the entire first section is really great, definitely the part I like most. In short, I enjoyed it, especially because there were many drivers and riders who have great histories in motorsports, like John Surtees, who told me that he raced here in the ’50s. I wasn’t following racing then,” joked the Italian, “but he was great.”