VR46 Retirement

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Sadly for Rossi fans, VR46 has announced he is going to retire at the end of 2021 MotoGP season.

The full vdo announcement.

Rossi has been a world class ambassador for MotoGP & arguably one of the world's greatest sportsmen.
Always charming and humble, he has been a totally loveable character for MotoGP fans.

After a 25 year career in MotoGP, it will not be the same watching MotoGP for me & many others for a long time to come.
 
Last edited:

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Mat Oxley on Rossi

Valentino Rossi: ‘I switched on the emotions of normal people’

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi today announced his retirement, after an unforgettable 26 years of GP racing. MotoGP may never be the same again

At the end of the day the sun goes down. Valentino Rossi has been riding through the twilight of his career for the last few seasons, so it’s no surprise that today he announced that his sun will finally dip below the horizon at Valencia in November.

And so will end the career of arguably the greatest motorcycle racer of all time, arguably the greatest motor sportsperson of all time and undoubtedly one of the greatest sportspeople of all time.

Rossi’s sun has shone for quarter of a century over the sport of motorcycle grand prix racing, which hasn’t even been going three-quarters of a century.

He has lasted longer than any other motorcycle GP rider and longer than any Formula 1 driver, despite the fact that he goes to work protected by a cowhide suit and impact-absorbent padding, instead of a carbon-fibre safety shell with inbuilt oxygen supply.

It is impossible to overestimate the effect Rossi has had on motorcycling. For some years he was even bigger than the sport itself, transcending its boundaries, loved by mums, kids and grannies, as much as by petrolheads.

Some sportspersons dazzle with what they do on the track and on the pitch, others throw their light much further than that. The way they walk, the way they talk, gets inside people. That’s when sport becomes special – when it makes people laugh, makes them cry and fills their dreams, both night and day.

Few have done that better than Rossi. He has millions of mothers, millions of fathers, millions of brothers and sisters, millions of grannies and grandads.

“Sincerely, I don’t know why,” he laughed during today’s media conference at Red Bull Ring, arranged specifically for his announcement. “I was able to bring a lot of people close to motorcycle racing – I switched on the emotions of normal people.”

The fact that Diego Maradona, another sportsman who became more than just that, turned up at Misano in 2008 to kiss Rossi’s hand on the grid, like a cardinal paying homage to the Pope, tells you all you need to know.

Rossi is bike racing’s Maradona, Pele and Muhammad Ali all rolled into one, so he will leave a huge VR46-shaped hole in the sport, which may never be filled.

His racing achievements may or may not be bettered. Rossi hasn’t won as many grands prix as Giacomo Agostini won during the 1960s and 1970s, but he’s won more premier-class races than his countryman. And surely victories in the premier category count for more than victories in the minor classes, which makes him statistically the strongest rider in history.

A total of 115 victories across all three classes (89 in MotoGP and 500cc), 235 podiums (a tantalising 199 in the big class), 96 fastest laps and 65 pole positions. They’re big numbers but probably not as big as the joy he gave to people and also to himself.

“I’ve had a very long career and fortunately I won a lot of races, with some victories that are unforgettable – pure joy! Sometimes I laughed for one week and other times after ten days I was still laughing!”

Today Rossi rated his 2001, 2004 and 2008 MotoGP titles as his best. His only real disappointments are not winning with Ducati and not winning a tenth world title.

There is no doubt that this is the correct time for him to leave the MotoGP grid and turn his attentions to car racing and his VR46 empire.

Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, whose oil business will back the VR46 MotoGP team for the next few seasons, made no secret of the fact that he wanted Rossi to race in his colours in 2022. But Rossi has only ever done what he wants to do. And although part of him wants to continue racing, he knows the game is up.

“It’s a difficult decision but in the end in all sports it’s results that make the difference, so I think it’s the right direction… I can’t complain about my career,” he said.

During 2020 there was still hope. He scored one podium and came very close to scoring more, so he still went into race weekends hoping for a prosecco shower on Sunday afternoon, the closure that every racer craves. This year he has scored just one top-ten result – tenth at Mugello – so he’s lost that hope.

He may be riding faster than ever but he’s not fast enough, and there comes a time when a rider can no longer bear looking at the result sheets, remembering where he used to be.

We will all miss him but not nearly as much as if we would’ve done if he had retired five years ago. During these last few seasons he’s not really been part of the show, so in some ways he has slid gracefully towards his retirement ever since his last victory in 2017.

The enormity of Rossi’s career really hits home when you stand it alongside your own life. I was 36-years-old when I watched Rossi make his GP debut at Shah Alam, Malaysia, in March 1996. I’m now 62. That’s pretty much a lifetime.

I’m happy he is retiring, not least because during the last five years I’ve been writing the ultimate (I would say that) Rossi book, which will be published at the end of this year. We thought maybe he would retire at the end of 2019, or 2020, or 2021. Now, finally, I will get paid.

Thanks for the memories, Valentino, and thanks for the joy you’ve given so many people. It’s been epic and a privilege to watch the story unfold from close quarters.

Source Mat Oxley @ Motorsport
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Dave Emmett on Rossi

Valentino Rossi To Retire At The End Of The 2021 MotoGP Season

Valentino Rossi has announced that he is to retire from MotoGP racing at the end of the 2021 season. The legendary Italian has decided to call it a day after 26 seasons in Grand Prix racing, as results were becoming more difficult to come by.

Rossi leaves with an incredible record. The Italian has 423 Grand Prix starts across all three classes, 115 Grand Prix victories, 199 premier class podiums, and 89 premier class wins. He has nine world championships, and seven premier class titles, having won on 500cc two strokes, 990cc four strokes, and 800cc four strokes. He also came within 5 points of winning the 1000cc four-stroke format as well.

But those results have not been coming of late, and that has been the reason for him to choose retirement. "I decide to stop at the end of the season. Unfortunately this will be my last half season as MotoGP rider," the Italian told a special press conference.

There was a mixture of happiness and sadness, he said. "It’s difficult. It’s a very sad moment. It was a long, long journey, really funny. It’s been 25, 26 years in the world championship. I had a very long career. Fortunately, I won a lot of races. But have some moments, victories that are there in the video that are unforgettable and was a pure joy."

Results are what count

Declining results, and the knowledge that he was approaching the end of his career, were the deciding factor. "At the beginning I decided in the summer break," he said. "I want to continue when I start the championship. but I needed to understand if I was fast enough. During the season our results were less than what I expect. Race by race I start to think."

That was what swung it for him. "At the end in all sports the results make the difference," Rossi told the press conference. "At the end it’s the right way. It was difficult because I had the chance to race for my team in MotoGP together with my brother. It’s something I’d like."

He decided against racing in his own team because he was not sure he had more than one more year. "It’s a good project if you have two or three years," Rossi said. "But if you think you have just one season, it's maybe more risk than good things."

That decision had come easier than when he first started to consider whether he wanted to continue or not several years ago. "Sincerely two years ago and last year I was not ready to stop with MotoGP. I have to understand to try everything," He had done that, and arrived at his decision. "Now I am OK. I am calm. I’m not happy for sure." But continuing on for another year would have made no difference, he said. "Anyway, if I make another year, next year I’d be not happy in the same moment, because I want to race for the next 20."

No regrets

He had no regrets about the decisions he had made throughout his career. "Sincerely I don’t have. Racing with Ducati was very difficult because we don’t win. But it was a great challenge. If we were able to win it would be historic." His only regret was never managing to clinch that tenth Grand Prix title. "A little bit sad to not win the tenth championship, especially because I think I deserve it for my level and speed," he said.

Rossi's greatest achievement has been to expand the popularity of the sport beyond the narrow confines of motorcycle racing fans. Fans around the world came to know and love MotoGP thanks to Rossi, an athlete of the stature of Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, or Tiger Woods.

Though he rejected any comparison with greats such as Jordan, he was aware of, and grateful for, the fact that he had brought in so many new fans, and brought them so much joy. I was able to bring a lot of people close to motorcycle racing. Without me they wouldn’t know about 125s, 250s, or 500s," Rossi said. "I did something in my early career that switched on the emotion of many people. I’m proud of this. It’s really special."

Bigger than the sport

That was his greatest achievement, Rossi believed. "A lot of people followed motorcycles because of me. This is most important thing I did in my career. I entertained a lot of people on Sunday afternoon and a lot of people enjoyed. One or two hours during the Sunday when they don’t think about anything, just enjoy my races."

After the press conference finished, as Rossi went around the room, he spoke briefly to Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, thanking him for running the series, saying he had enjoyed himself. Ezpeleta, in turn, thanks Rossi, for all he has done for the sport. There is no doubt that MotoGP would not be the same if Valentino Rossi had not existed.

A potted history of Valentino Rossi's racing career.

Though Valentino Rossi was the son of a motorcycle racer, father Graziano having in Grand Prix between 1977 and 1982, he ended up racing motorcycles almost by accident. Though he had grown up riding bikes, racing minicross and minibikes, but at one point he started racing karts due to the rules on circuit racing. But at 13, the expense of kart racing forced him to switch to motorcycles, a decision from which he would never look back.

From racing Sport Production, a class for 125cc bikes in Italy, he went to racing in the Italian and European 125cc championships. He entered the Grand Prix paddock in 1996, and made an impact very quickly. He took his first podium at the Red Bull Ring, finishing third behind Ivan Goi and Dirk Raudies. His first victory came a race later, at Brno.

Winning became a habit. He won the 125cc title in 1997, collecting 11 wins from 15 races, then moved up to 250s with Aprilia in 1998. He finished second in that year, winning the title the next, and moving up to the 500cc class in 2000, inheriting most of Mick Doohan's crew, who had just retired from racing after an injury at Jerez.

After a year in the Nastro Azzurro team on his own, finishing second in the championship, he was moved into the Repsol Honda team in 2001, where he went on to win the first of a string of titles. He racked up five Grand Prix titles between 2001 and 2005, first on a 500cc two stroke, then on a 990cc Honda RC211V, before making an audacious switch to Yamaha, at that time a relatively uncompetitive bike, and winning both his first race on the bike, at Welkom in 2004, and the 2004 and 2005 title.

There were rumors of a switch to F1 at the end of the 2005 season, and he faced an uphill battle for the title in 2006, eventually losing out to Nicky Hayden. When the formula changed again, to 800cc four strokes, Rossi lost another title to Casey Stoner on the Bridgestone-shod Ducati Desmosedici GP7. Rossi engineered a switch to Bridgestones for the 2008 season, and after an epic battle at Laguna Seca, in which he turned the momentum of the season, he won the MotoGP title in that year as well, following it up with another in 2009.

2010 proved to be a disastrous year for Rossi. He started off with a serious injury after the first race in Qatar, in a training crash in an abandoned quarry. Though he continued to race, another massive crash at Mugello during practice on Saturday morning saw him break his leg, and forced to miss the first race of his career. That injury would cost him the 2010 title, Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo taking his first crown.

At the same time, Rossi had been tempted by Ducati to take the seat vacated by Casey Stoner, who was off to the Repsol Honda team for 2011. That turned into two disastrous seasons, when the bike proved to be much more difficult to ride than he had expected it to be from the outside.

Rossi returned to Yamaha for the 2013 season, riding for no salary from Yamaha. Though he took a podium in his first race back at Qatar, and his first win after a two-year drought at Assen, it was a relatively modest return, Rossi finishing fourth in the championship.

The next season went much better, Rossi finishing second to Marc Marquez, winning two races and finishing on the podium 13 times. That led to the controversial and legendary 2015 season, when he found himself engaged in a year-long battle with teammate Jorge Lorenzo. It culminated in a vicious dogfight with Marc Marquez at Sepang, after Rossi had accused the Repsol Honda rider of trying to help his teammate Lorenzo to win the title. Rossi and Marquez collided, and Rossi was handed a penalty for the final race of the season, forced to start from the back of the grid at Valencia. Rossi finished that race in fourth, while Lorenzo took victory in the race and the 2015 MotoGP title, Rossi ending the season in second, amid acrimonious accusations of malfeasance, none of which were verifiable.

Rossi finished second again in 2016, but that proved to be the final time he would be competitive. He won his last race in 2017, at Assen, and had his last podium last year, at Jerez. This year, Rossi has struggled to be competitive. For a rider so used to winning – he has amassed 115 victories, second only to Giacomo Agostini – the enjoyment in racing was gone.

Rossi's career and his impact on the sport is too vast to be encapsulated in a few lines thrown together on a Thursday. We will have a retrospective on his career, and attempt to put it in context at the end of the year, after he finishes racing. Valentino Rossi was the most significant motorcycle racer of all time. He deserves a considered reflection.

Source Dave Emmett @ MotoMatters
 

Ian Bungy

Ol'Timer
Subscribed
Sep 19, 2006
2,316
317
83
59
www.chiangmai-xcentre.com
He would of had another title if it wasn't for that little Weasel Marquez! But of course Karma can be a Terrible thing! May His Misery continue!
On the other hand Long Live Valentino and I am sure We will see Him in multiple Motor Racing events for quite sometime to come! What a Legend!
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
He would of had another title if it wasn't for that little Weasel Marquez! But of course Karma can be a Terrible thing! May His Misery continue!
On the other hand Long Live Valentino and I am sure We will see Him in multiple Motor Racing events for quite sometime to come! What a Legend!

Yes you can see that missing 10th title is a serious disappointment for him.
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
On Rossi’s Retirement

By Maria Guidotti on August 11, 2021

What does the racing world think of Valentino Rossi’s decision to retire?

“When I started it was like another era—it was black and white on the television,” Valentino Rossi joked last summer. “I’ve won a lot, a lot of races, a lot, a lot of championships. Then you arrive at one point when it becomes more difficult because younger and stronger opponents arrive, so in that moment you have to decide. Do you prefer to stay at home and look at your trophies and be happy about this? Or do you prefer to continue to fight because you enjoy it? I think this is my case.”

The nine-time world champion started his 26th GP last March in that spirit. That number, 26, is also the age of Franco Morbidelli, his teammate and a member of the VR46 Academy that Rossi helped grow. Those 26 years, together with 115 career victories, 235 podiums, 9 world titles, and countless unforgettable battles with his rivals, make Rossi the greatest of all time. He’s the eternal Peter Pan for the MotoGP fans who packed the grandstands on circuits all over the world with yellow flags and the number 46.

Last Sunday in Austria Rossi announced his retirement.


“I’ve decided to stop at the end of the season… This will be the last season for me as a MotoGP rider,” Rossi said. “I have done this thing for more or less 30 years. It’s a very sad moment because I won’t race next year… Next year my life will change.

“It was great. I enjoy a lot, and it was really fun. I had unforgettable moments. I would have loved to continue for another 25 years, but it is not possible.”


Rossi pronounced these heavy words in his trademark style: with a smile on his face. This extraordinary openness with his emotions is something Rossi shares with other legends, Diego Maradona, Pele, Ayrton Senna, Muhammad Ali. To many MotoGP fans, he wasn’t just one of them; he was all of them rolled into one.
For many years his name was even bigger than the sport itself. He transcended its frontiers; he was loved by millions of dads, mums, kids, and grannies as much as by petrolheads.


“I have incredible support from all the fans from across the world,” he said in his farewell. “I have to say thank-you to all the fans. The difference between me and all the other great riders is—seriously, I don’t know why—I was able to bring a lot of people close to motorcycle racing… Even in a remote village in Thailand, I found scooters with the number 46 on it. This makes me proud, together with the awareness that I entered millions of houses on Sunday to give them two hours of pure joy.”


Speed, charisma, and fantasy: a creative cocktail that makes Rossi unique. “I was moved by the thousands of messages that I have received, from close friends to sportsmen to fans that were not even born when I started in 1996. The one that touched me most? Maybe Casey Stoner’s.”

Rossi’s pass on the Australian at the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca 2008 remains one of the all-time best moments in motorcycle racing.

Casey Stoner : “You’ve been without a doubt one of my greatest rivals, my achievements have been all the more validated having raced against you. We’ve had some tough battles over the years, and I learnt a lot from you. I hope you enjoy the next chapter of your life, there is a lot left to enjoy.”

Jorge Lorenzo: “End of an era. On the track the 4 of us were just as fast, but in terms of charisma and transcendence @valeyellow46 is at the level of Jordan, Woods, Ali, or Senna. Enjoy this new chapter, legend!” The subject of another unforgettable moment: Rossi’s pass on his younger teammate at Barcelona in 2009.

Max Biaggi: Even Max Biaggi, one of Rossi’s first and oldest rivals, chimed in. “We have never pretended to be friends, either on or off track, but we have animated one of the most beautiful rivalries in motorcycling. Maybe one day we will meet each other in front of a glass of red wine for some laughter. Deciding to stop is never easy, especially after 30 years of career, but you can now think of doing many things that you would never have been able to do before and it’s not so bad: good life Vale.”


Valentino Rossi doesn’t regret anything, not even the two fruitless years with Ducati.

“It was a great challenge: an Italian rider on an Italian bike. If we had won, it would have been legendary. I’m more sorry for not having achieved my 10th title. We went close twice, fighting at the last race, so I think I deserved it,” the Doctor said.


Marc Marquez: “I thought he would continue,” commented an obviously surprised Marc Márquez. “I’ve read the comments of those who say that it shouldn’t end like this, but the career of a sportsman must be judged for the whole period of time. It’s been 25 years, and what he has done for motorcycling is legendary. He did something that is the prerogative of a few riders: to win, to bring a lot of people to the track. It’s beautiful.”


Márquez doesn’t agree that MotoGP will never be the same. “In the 100 meters [at this Olympics] there was no Usain Bolt, but I looked at them anyway and with the same intensity. It is true that Bolt had something different, but sooner or later someone always comes along who will become great too. There was Pele, then Maradona, Messi… It’s not that one is better than the other, but that each has its own era and moment. And Rossi’s moment was very, very long. But MotoGP will remain the same; those who love motorbikes will continue to follow and support them.”

Joan Mir: “Valentino is the Michael Jordan of roadracing,” current MotoGP World Champion Joan Mir said.

Fabio Quartaro: “It’s difficult to believe that it is happening,” confessed MotoGP point leader Fabio Quartararo, who now occupies Rossi’s seat in the Yamaha factory team. “He was already a two-time world champion before I was born. It’s extraordinary that he is still racing with us this year… He was, for me, the reference and the reason why I decided to become a professional rider. I remember when I was a kid and I was queuing for hours in front of his motorhome to get an autograph. His career has been simply fantastic. He is a legend of our sport.”

John Zarco: “We have to thank him, because he has reshaped our sport over the last 20 years. Even someone who doesn’t follow MotoGP knows Valentino Rossi. There are few stars that remain competitive for so many years,” stated Johann Zarco, currently second in the championship on a Ducati.

Top Gun Vinales: “I have learned so much from him,” Maverick Viñales said. “I am very grateful for the amazing moments we have shared on and off track.”

Franco Morbidelli: “It’s sad news. He is an idol for all of us. It will be very special to race with him in the last GPs,” Morbidelli said.

Cal Crutchlow: “I also grew up following Rossi’s successes,” Cal Crutchlow said. “He is the synonym of MotoGP in the world. What impresses me more is his determination and competitiveness. Even after my retirement, he continued to be fast and competitive. It is incredible how he made it to maintain such a level of mental and physical preparation to compete at the maximum for so many years. He is a source of inspiration for all of us.”

Miguel Oliveira: “What is extraordinary about Rossi is the love of his fans,” young KTM rider Miguel Oliveira said. “…It was easy for us to support him when he was winning, but what makes him extraordinary is that the fans kept on loving him even when results were not coming as during the two years with Ducati. The fans love him beyond his results, for what he represents on and off track. It has been an honor to share the track with him.”

And If Giacomo Agostini, with 122 GP wins and 15 world titles under his belt, found an heir in Rossi, who could be Rossi’s heir?

“Valentino has been my heir. He has been a legend: The results and the victories he achieved will remain even if in the last years he struggled. In our era, we were pioneers: We arrived at the track with the bike in the van. Today MotoGP is a show without frontiers. And now? I cried for three days when I announced my retirement, Valentino did it with a smile. His passion for motorcycles is crystal clear; he could connect with so many people. Now he won’t be able to continue doing what he loved most. It’s an empty space. but he will find something else.”

The most difficult to convince was Graziano Rossi.

“I made my decision alone but this is something I discussed with my family and my close friends. They all pushed me to continue to continue, especially Graziano. ‘We will have fans,’ he repeated.”

“I told Stefania only on Wednesday before the race. I used to have dinner with her and my girlfriend Francesca every Wednesday. I told her when I was already at the door. She had no time to reply, but we had discussed it with her many times.”

Time, ultimately, was his greatest rival. Rossi is now ready to close this chapter.

“I want to enjoy this second part of the season and see if I can get better results. I will miss getting up every morning to train, the butterflies in my stomach two hours before the Sunday race, working with my team. But I can race with cars and follow the riders of the VR46 Academy. It’s an incredible satisfaction to see them grow and win. It will continue to be the Italian team.”

“Just give me some months of holidays,” said Valentino Rossi, smiling. An eternal Peter Pan.

Source: On Rossi’s Retirement
 

blackb15

Ol'Timer
Oct 11, 2009
288
79
28
I’m a huge Rossi fan i have ridden to his home town from England and got the odd Rossi tatt
Going to Silvestone this weekend to watch from the Rossi stand and to pay respect to a icon in Moto GP.
safe riding
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
A proposal for the ambassador & any Riders.

A final VR46 MotoGP get together for Rossi's last race.
The date: Sunday14th November.
Ride the Samoeng Loop in a clockwise direction, from the Night Safari end to Mae Rim.
End up at the Mae Rim end to watch the race, & celebrate The Legend VR46s retirement at the X-Centre.
 

blackb15

Ol'Timer
Oct 11, 2009
288
79
28
4D5556BE-965C-4B8C-A3A1-46EB65BD0B9F.jpeg

4D5556BE-965C-4B8C-A3A1-46EB65BD0B9F.jpeg
 

Attachments

  • 47E2E4ED-4D84-4F4C-9AB1-C5754736FA88.jpeg
    47E2E4ED-4D84-4F4C-9AB1-C5754736FA88.jpeg
    84.4 KB · Views: 4
  • 9573633E-83E4-49A1-8B90-3ED796B74822.jpeg
    9573633E-83E4-49A1-8B90-3ED796B74822.jpeg
    84.4 KB · Views: 4

blackb15

Ol'Timer
Oct 11, 2009
288
79
28
Photo of Rossi waving goodbye to crowd at the end,amazing atmosphere and so many Rossi supporters.
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Subscribed
Jan 16, 2003
12,801
3,320
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Nick Harris on VR46's last ride at Silverstone.

Vale at Vale – gone forever

Nick Harris recalls an emotional day down at Vale corner at the 2021 British GP, as the Silverstone crowd bid farewell to Valentino Rossi 2021, MONSTER ENERGY BRITISH GRAND PRIX

All that hassle was worth it in one precious moment when I understood exactly why I was there. The pilgrimage had begun at 6.30 on Sunday morning. Even before my alarm went off, I could hear the bikes racing down the nearby A420. It may have been 35 kms from Silverstone but the yellow army was already on the move.

Nothing had changed from our early racing days. Somebody was always late and 50 years later it was the same person. By the time we reached the legendary Green Man pub a couple of kilometres from the Silverstone entrance the traffic was stop and start in double lanes with motorbike after motorbike racing down the middle. Every car and every bike were part of the yellow army. Tee shirts, caps, flags and rucksacks with a simple message in a number – 46 ruled.

As we slowly but surely edged our way nearer and nearer to the entrance I remembered those Sandwiches my mum always lovingly prepared for lunch on race days. I’d always eaten them before we actually arrived.

The car park appeared a long way from the circuit, but we joined the yellow army now marching on foot towards their goal. Over the bridge and a long snaking queue greeted us. This was England and nobody moaned. Nobody jumped in and 40 minutes later our precious tickets were scanned, and we were in.

Now we had to find the grass bank in front of the grandstands at the entrance to Vale corner at the bottom end of the circuit to meet my old friend MotoGP™ statistician Martin Raines. There were plenty of human obstacles to slow our progress. Long queues blocked the roadways which had to be negotiated. People waited and were prepared to wait to buy their VR46 memorabilia for the last time, sample a burger and chips and even go to the loos.

After much searching and phone calls we finally located the good Doctor Raines sitting right next to a family with an enormous 46 flag and union jack at the top of the pole. Somebody more sensible than me had bought some fold-up chairs, definitely something we’d never considered 50 years ago. We settled down to watch an afternoon of MotoGP™.

Only in England would Moto3™ winner Romano Fenati receive polite applause more accustomed to a game of cricket, but he did, perhaps added with a few air horns but the big moment was approaching. Twenty-one years earlier I’d commentated on Valentino Rossi’s first win in the premier class of Grand Prix racing at the British Grand Prix at Donington and here he was making his final appearance on these shores where World Championship racing had started back in 1949. Even before he’d arrived down at Stowe corner on his sighting lap our grass bank at Vale had turned into a sea of yellow. Number 46 was getting the send off he deserved from the success-starved loyal British fans who had adopted him as one of their own a long time ago.

Those home fans are totally unique and so loyal. Every time Jake Dixon appeared in last place in the 20-lap race on a decent MotoGP™ debut they stood and cheered his considerable efforts. They gave equal encouragement and appreciation to race winner and Championship leader Fabio Quartararo but then they let go. Valentino Rossi arrived on his slowing down lap, his last ever lap in Britain and at Silverstone. The last time that number 46 would grace this hallowed tarmac.

At Club corner, he stopped the Petronas Yamaha SRT machine and bid a final farewell to the crowd. Then he was gone, gone forever.

I did have a tear in my eye but please don’t tell my mates.

Source: Vale at Vale – gone forever