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Rossi Proved Me Wrong

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I’ll get right to the point … after the Ducati debacle, I thought Valentino Rossi was finished. Washed up. I didn’t think a Yamaha (or a Honda) would put him back on the podium, much less the top step.

As it turns out, no rider in MotoGP has responded more forcefully to the dominance of Marc Marquez than the wily 35-year-old veteran. They say you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but Rossi quickly got to work learning new tricks to keep up with the elbow-dragging youngster.

Among those, Rossi now gets further off the inside of the bike than he ever has in his career. If you ride track days, or race, you know how much core strength this involves, and it is a real testament to Rossi’s determination.

The real proof of Rossi’s success is his frequent defeat of teammate Jorge Lorenzo. How quickly things change. Even Rossi said just last year that “Jorge wants to win”, while Rossi was simply trying to find the podium. Marquez has clearly gotten into Lorenzo’s head much more than he has gotten into Rossi’s. With age comes wisdom as they say, and perhaps the ability to stay focused when a blinding light (young Marquez) suddenly appears on the scene.

So full credit to Valentino Rossi. His win at Misano last weekend caps a steady rise that the nine-time World champ worked hard to achieve. I can happily eat my words (and thoughts) that Rossi’s stint with Yamaha would be nothing more than a sentimental swan song.

45 Comments

  1. hh says:

    Good on you Dirck…some of us hope that Rossi can continue to shine a bit longer, but again, good on you Dirck, we know you are not a 46 fan but you are a good sport.

  2. jacksonk says:

    Dirck, I also was in complete agreement with your assessment of Rossi. I thought his firing of Burgess was the act of a desperate man. It is only 1 win but it is good to see Rossi being Rossi. God knows, it’s good for the sport. Rossi is not my favorite rider but he’s brings something to the table that others are unable or unwilling to. My only question is this….Given the right situation would Rossi pull a “Gibernau” on MM?? Or is that type of do or die mentality gone from his riding? Personally I would like to see it happen as a little “payback” for some of MM’s bombing runs.

  3. Karlsbad says:

    In my dream Casey comes back for one season on the new Suzuki, with team mate Nicky Hayden and Ben Bostrom on a Kawasaki. Hey we can all have dreams even if they are a little unrealistic.

  4. mickey says:

    I think Rossi is enjoying racing again. When you enjoy something you do it better, and he is getting better results. When it is no fun it is hard to make maximum effort. Look at Spies last year with Yamaha and then Ducati, Look at Crutchlow with Ducati. Obviously Spies and Crutchlow were/are not having fun, and the results speak for themselves. Dovi seems to be enjoying it more than Crutchlow and is finishing better. Dovi resigned with Ducati. Crutchlow is bailing. Looking for happiness which results in higher finishes. Rossi has found happiness again.

  5. EZ Mark says:

    The REAL amazing thing is that, if not for Marquez, 35 year old Rossi would be leading the chase looking for his 10th title.

  6. Tim says:

    It will be interesting to see how long Honda keeps Marquez under contract. My impression is that they want the focus to be primarily on the bike. When a rider starts to get too much of the attention, Honda seems happy to move on to the next rider. There is no denying Marquez is getting most of the credit, not Honda.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “When a rider starts to get too much of the attention, Honda seems happy to move on to the next rider.”

      they’ve since learned to just go with it.

      the fans will have their “Superman”. even when/where he doesn’t exist…? human nature is such it will create him (or her).

  7. Tim says:

    The Ducati was just really, really bad.. I never felt Rossi had dropped out of the big 4 in terms of skill and ability.

    As for Marquez’s dominance this year, and getting in Lorenzo’s head. I really believe it has a lot to do with the bikes. That’s not to take anything away from Marquez. He may well be the best rider in the world, and probably is the best. I don’t, however, believe he would be nearly as dominant if he switched bikes with Lorenzo or Rossi. There have been a number of races this season where he appeared to be toying with the Yamahas. I suspect he was doing the same Sunday, up to the point when he laid the Honda down. The Honda just has crazy power, and he knows how to harness it.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The Ducati was just really, really bad.. I never felt Rossi had dropped out”

      re: “I really believe it has a lot to do with the bikes.”

      re: “I don’t, however, believe he would be nearly as dominant if he switched bikes with Lorenzo or Rossi.”

      tim, in your infinite wisdom you have just stumbled upon my Law of NATCORK…

      No Amount of Talent Can Overcome Recalcitrant Kit.

      (ps: it’s IRON CLAD same as all the other laws set before us by the Universe)

      • fivespeed302 says:

        Ha! This may work in MotoGP, but I challenge you to ride Lance Armstrong’s bicycle while racing him on a Walmart mountain bike. I bet you lose.

  8. Bill says:

    I wonder if Marquez can win 9 championships 😉

  9. Alon Walker says:

    I think Lorenzo was gun shy after all he went thru last season and at times found himself not willing to push for that last bit. He mentioned this a couple times especially in rainy conditions …

  10. Allison says:

    Sorry, but I disagree. This is his swan song, enjoy it, and your earlier thoughts (identical to mine) are still correct (IMO). Thirteen races in, eleven to M&M, one to Rossi, and one to Little Pedro. Seriously, there are only 4 bikes in the series capable of winning! Valentino, one of the greatest of all time, is on one of those bikes! This kid has called the other 3 out, and with 4 bikes on the grid there aren’t many places to hide. Nobody beats age, nobody, not in sports of this type. His time has past because thats a reality of life, nothing more, nothing less. But just because he won a race I wouldn’t go prepping the crow for the oven.

    Sidebar: I would love to see Rossi make a come back, and put the young up-and-comers in their place, but thats just not going to happen, no matter how bad he wants it, or his fans. Those years with Ducati were more valuable than he could have ever imagined.

  11. pigiron says:

    Marquez still has a long way to go to match Rossi’s career record. And most of you folks don’t seem to remember how he used to set lap records on bald tires while winning races in the final laps.

    Marquez is a terrific rider but he has to keep up his blistering pace for years before he can be classed in the same league as Ago, Surtees, Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Gardener, Rossi and company.

    • VLJ says:

      Not really sure I’d include Gardener in that company. I would say ‘Lawson’ is the name most conspicuous by its absence there. As it stands, Marquez is already on equal terms with Gardener, and Lorenzo has clearly eclipsed Gardener. If we’re talking once-only champions with sustained excellence, Schwantz would be the obvious pick.

      • Scotty says:

        I’d say Doohan was the missing name….

        • mickey says:

          You might say Spencer is a missing name

        • VLJ says:

          Good point, regarding Doohan. Hell, even just among Aussie riders Gardener isn’t the top guy, and it’s not even close, not with Mick’s vast accomplishments. For that manner, Casey Stoner also puts Gardener on the truck. I might even argue for Troy Bayliss over Gardener, though it’s obviously not a fair argument, comparing (primarily) WSB vs Grand Prix.

          And yep, Freddie Spencer too. The name of ‘Hailwood’ also springs to mind.

          I think what we’re trying to say is that if there was ever an All-Time Moto GP grid, Wayne Gardener would be starting from somewhere back on the fourth or fifth row.

          • Scotty says:

            I do think though that Wayne was as tough as teak, and had a lot of sucess outside Grand Prix before he got there on Superbikes. He still has a huge fan base back home in Oz, and is very respected. He rode a powerful but ill-handling bike to a championship at a time when most guys on the gride walked with a limp, or had missing fingers……

          • ze says:

            Why everybody calls him Gardener ? Cmon, have respect. Mike Hailwood is ahead of anyone mentioned. Doohan is overrated, when he had competition he lost. Lost to Rainey (the best of that era), Schwantz and even to Daryl Beattie with same bike and team. Won only when had the best bike, the official Honda with special tyres (Burgess confirmed that) competing only with his teamate Criville.

  12. Craig says:

    I am excited because when the man who has helped bring the sport to the forefront with not only his wins, but his attitude and personality… it’s good for everyone when he does win.
    He won’t run away with the title anymore based on wins… (I don’t think…) but he is simply good for everyone when he wins except those trying to beat him. However, you can see it in their eyes that they know… When Rossi does win, it’s good for all of us!

    Carry on old man!!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “it’s good for everyone when he does win”

      correct. that strange sound you’re hearing isn’t a supercharged i4 (not even close). it’s the sound of cash registers…

      CHA-CHING…!!! $$$

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “after the Ducati debacle, I thought Valentino Rossi was finished. Washed up.”

    really…? fairplay on the admission as that never really came across. well, not to me anyway.

    re: “If you ride track days, or race, you know how much core strength this involves, and it is a real testament to…”

    …15 min pilates. it’s the “total body workout”, or so she keeps telling me.

  14. TRPLDOG says:

    When the complexion of an entire sport can be changed by the performance and personality of one man – that speaks volumes. Glad to see Rossi on the charge with a good horse under him.

  15. endoman38 says:

    The main reason Rossi wanted to sign on for 2 more years is the new rules going into effect in 2016, with Michelin taking over the tire duties being the main one. I think Rossi wants to see who can learn the new set-ups quicker.
    Things sure would have been more interesting new if Simoncelli was still with us.

  16. mickey says:

    Dirck..I have said the same thing on this site several times. I thought the stint at Ducati broke Rossi’s spirit. I was sure that he was washed up. Man has he proven us wrong. So glad to see it. He is good for the sport, and as long as he is doing well he will stay. At the recent Indy MotoGP, I swear, every third person was wearing some kind of Rossi gear. A few were wearing Marquez gear, and that was it. It was like there are only 2 riders in MotoGP and one of them is 100 times more popular than the other.

    Also his recent interviews show a much more mature Rossi. I like the guy.

    • TF says:

      We did the pit walk at Indy on Saturday afternoon this year. The Honda/Repsol teams would not open their doors. A few other teams pushed bikes out and started them up for whatever reason. Occasionally we could see a rider conversing in the back of their respective garages. Contrastingly, Rossi came out of nowhere and walked over to the fence to sign autographs. That’s why he is so loved and why he is such a great ambassador for the sport.

  17. TF says:

    I think there are two guys on the track that are having more fun than the others. It may be a simple as that.

  18. Dave Joy says:

    I think that Valentino has one main thing going for him this season…..he is plainly enjoying himself again!

  19. Jon says:

    Since he trashed his shoulder he has always struck me as a wiley old fox who wasn’t willing to crash and burn trying to win the race at any cost. He has had his eye on the bigger picture – winning another title, maybe more than one – and knew that if he kept falling off he was only going to cut down his chances of achieving that, not increase them. The Ducati was not the bike to take him to another championship, so why break bones trying? He has more drive than anyone else in motogp, and more talent than anyone except perhaps MM.
    The shoulder injury was misleading, because sometimes they are minor and heal up quickly, and sometimes they are a disaster and never come close to being like new. His just took a long time to come right, and when it finally did he was stuck on the red bike.

    • Glen says:

      I wouldn’t say Rossi has more “drive” than others. Because, Jeez, some of those other guys are DRIVEN as well. That being said, Rossi is certainly “greater” than others.

      And Dirck,

      I agree with your story whole heartedly.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Rossi is certainly “greater” than others.”

        greater =’s LIFTED higher.

        see entry for… “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants” – Isaac Newton

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “He has more drive than anyone else in motogp, and more talent than anyone except perhaps MM.”

      this is a common misconception and I’m afraid I have to take issue with this as it cultivates a false belief in Superman (something good or bad, we’re naturally predisposed to). moreso, I take issue because I genuinely want you (and others) to realize something…

      the success of Ross and Marcus has little to do with their “drive” or “talent”, and EVERYTHING to do with opportunity.

      look, everybody has drive and talent… ambition is EVERYWHERE. however (comma) what is universally NOT everywhere is the aforementioned OPPORTUNITY (critical this). hell I’ve seen a 1/2 dozen racers a year at the club level for the past DECADE all with the “racecraft” necessary for success, but unfortunately you’ll never know their names ’cause they’ll never be given passes to board…

      (wait for it)

      …the AIRCRAFT.

      I tell you here and now, “opportunity” is the one deciding factor on planet Earth that separates everybody and everything…? from everybody and everything else. if you look closely, this truism transcends the context of motorcycle racing, and is applicable to pretty much all of man’s endeavours.

      (example)

      see entry for the wee Prince George (a fine young lad he is). however, is he inherently special/King worthy…? or is his “specialness” a function of having been gifted the “opportunity” to be born son of Will and Kate…? I ask because my neighbour and his wife just had a son (congrats Bobby you stud) yet I haven’t seen a single double parked news van all week…

      so what’s gives…? (rhetorical)

      • TimC says:

        And I’m afraid I have to take issue with this one. Norm, I normally think your comments are great but all the opportunity in the world means nothing without drive and talent knocking on its door. And I’d further argue that those with drive and talent create opportunities.

        Your local examples surely have a certain level of drive and talent, but if they had Rossi’s combination thereof they’d be on the track with him.

        • Norm G. says:

          Re: “all the opportunity in the world means nothing without drive and talent knocking on its door.”

          I’ll stipulate. but let’s be clear, you’re talking about an exception to the rule and not the rule in this context.

          Guy’s like Petrucci and Hernandez could be the “Next Moto Champion”, but we’ll never know from that (or their motivation) because again, it’s all predicated on them first landing a berth on a 213.

          • TimC says:

            Mmmm, not an exception to the rule. I maintain that drive and talent create opportunity. Derek Bell is a fantastic example – he did NOT get the F1 ride he wanted/craved/expected, but he had drive and talent – and a different opportunity came a-knockin’ (956/962).

      • Brian says:

        Others have been afforded that opportunity with the factory level bikes (Pedrosa, Dovi, Edwards, Biaggi) and didn’t end up with the championship. Hayden got it, but then everyone will point out (I don’t agree) that he wasn’t a great champion.
        Anyone that can ride those bikes without death is above and beyond our talent, but those that can take it to the top truly are a step above the rest.

        • Norm G. says:

          Re: “Others”

          Some.

        • Tim says:

          Hayden won his championship fair and square. He would have had more cushion if he hadn’t been crashed out by his teammate late in the season. Who really knows how good he could have been? Honda developed the replacement bike to suit the size and style of the smaller Pedrosa. Nicky has never really had a top tier bike developed for him since his championship season. Honda did him wrong, plain and simple. Maybe he would have never sniffed another championship anyway, but Honda assured that the world would never know.

          • Bryan Whitton says:

            Amen brother. IMHO he got screwed, first by Honda, then by Ducati then by Honda again. Slow ass Honda. I am glad he is taking the time off during this useless year. It gives his body a chance to recover and Honda a chance to make a reasonable open class bike.

      • VLJ says:

        Opportunity clearly matters. Talent and drive create opportunity. Taking advantage of opportunity affords success. Continued success begets championships. Consistent championships begs for continued opportunity.

        Valentino Rossi has (or had) all the drive in the world, obviously. Just as obviously, his sheer talent combined with his unshakable will was greater than that of his fellow championship riders, of which many were equally driven. The reason I know this is simple: His fellow riders always said so. They’re on the track with him. They see what he does, what they bear witness to in sheer amazement…what they cannot imagine doing themselves, despite their own towering talent.

        They are the critics who bestowed upon him the “GOAT” label, and they know whereof they speak.

        Yeah, I’ll go with that.

        • TimC says:

          “Just as obviously, his sheer talent combined with his unshakable will was greater than that of his fellow championship riders, of which many were equally driven.”

          I think the bit in this article about how he’s adjusted his style – hanging off to the inside more than ever – really underscores this. Look at pictures of riders through the ages – how hanging off “then” differs from hanging off “now” – and when you see pics of “then” riders on “now” rides they still have the same style and have never learned another. Whether they couldn’t or wouldn’t – Rossi has. This speaks volumes.

      • DaveA says:

        Sorry, but you’re really reaching here. the list of people with the same opportunities and little or no success is very long. Max Biaggi had the same opportunities at every level. How many 500GP/MotoGP titles did he win again? Sete Gibernau? John Kocinski? Christian Sarron? I could go on for pages…you get the idea.

        A more valid point would be that there are probably others we’ll not ever hear about who could compete, given the same opportunity. But nonetheless, many _are_ presented with the opportunity and do (relatively speaking obviously) nothing with it.