Saturday, December 4th, 2021

Valentino Rossi Nine-times world champion finishes 10th in Valencia Grand Prix

Valentino Rossi brought down the curtain on an illustrious 25-year MotoGP career on Sunday at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix. The nine-times world champion finished 10th in his final race, which was won by Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, one of his former proteges.

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“This race victory is a present to Valentino,” said Bagnaia, a product of Rossi’s VR46 riders academy. “I want to dedicate this race to him and thank him for what he has done for us at the academy.”

Rossi delighted fans in Valencia – including the Brazilian football great Ronaldo – with a few quick laps but was unable to add to his 199 premier class podiums. The 42-year-old Italian, who has won the MotoGP title seven times and is recognised as one of the sport’s greatest and most charismatic of competitors, is considering a move into car racing after more than two decades in motorcycling.

Rossi was mobbed by his fellow riders after the race as congratulatory messages from the motor sports fraternity and the larger sporting world were broadcast on the giant screen, with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal among those paying tribute.

The Hollywood actors Tom Cruise, Chris Hemsworth and Keanu Reeves also sent messages of support for Rossi, the only rider to win titles in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP categories. Rossi took a final lap of honour to a standing ovation as fireworks dotted the sky before an emotional farewell with his Petronas Yamaha team.

In the race itself, Pramac Racing’s Spanish rookie Jorge Martin made a strong start from pole position and held off a pack of challengers but was denied a second victory of the season after being overtaken by Bagnaia with 13 laps left.

Jack Miller finished third to secure the team championship for Ducati, while 2020 world champion Joan Mir of Spain missed out on a podium position after surging forward following a crash by his Suzuki teammate Alex Rins midway through the race. Yamaha’s new world champion, Fabio Quartararo, finished fifth.

“Before this weekend, I didn’t think it was possible [to win],” said Bagnaia. “But we arrived here as one of the fastest teams. It’s the best way to finish.”

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