What do you get when you add a nine-time World Champion, his Italian hometown and a Yamaha M1? One hell of a parade. Even when you’ve ruled the world nine times, broken records and raced in the premier class for two decades, there remain some dreams to be realised. For Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), that was to ride his Yamaha M1 through the streets of his hometown, Tavullia, and before the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, it came true.
Beginning at the Ranch – the home of the VR46 Riders Academy and training grounds developed and designed by the man himself – this was more than just a parade lap, it was an event. And so, after getting suited and booted and gearing up for the road ahead, the nine-time World Champion set off from the quiet, vine-lined hillsides of the venue and rode out towards his hometown. His story began on the very same streets, but back then Rossi and his friends were on scooters and Apes, not one of the fastest prototype motorcycles in the world. A lot has changed since then, but plenty things remain the same – and one of them is most definitely the passion the area has for motorcycling and for their most famous son, which was most definitely on full display once the number 46 arrived in the town centre.
Packed to the rafters, the piazzale lined by fans and a sea of yellow stretching down the streets, the scene was a sight to behold as the ‘The Doctor’ made his way into the crowd, greeting the fans and turning dream into reality for both himself and many of those who flooded the town to see him. But this was just the beginning, with a couple more stops yet to come.
The next one was VR46 headquarters, located just outside the town centre of Tavullia but still very much on home turf. And from there, of course, there was only one place to end up: the classic Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Once at the track, speed was back on the agenda and the race weekend on the horizon. Misano is the first track Rossi rode, just a stone’s throw from his hometown, and the blast around on the M1 was a fitting end to the homecoming lap of honour – as was the wheelie pulled all the way down the main straight, bringing the event to a close before the switch soon flicks to race mode.
Tune in for the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini on the 13th to 15th September, when Rossi gets back on track – this time to race. The lights go out for MotoGP™ at 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
Valentino Rossi: “It’s great, it’s really like a dream come true. When we were younger riding our 50cc scooters, we always dreamed of going through Tavullia on a MotoGP bike, on the M1, and today it came true. So it was a fantastic moment, great emotions and I enjoyed it very much. The M1 on the road is good! I felt good, and in Tavullia in our centre there were a lot of people and fans, and I think they enjoyed it a lot too.
“This one is really my home Grand Prix, my home is 10 km from here! I grew up here, the first time I rode a bike on a track was at Misano. This weekend we expect a lot of people, a lot of fans and a lot of yellow caps…so we’ll try to give the maximum to be strong and competitive!”