Rossi – 500 cc Motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion
Rossi was virtually born into the paddock, because his father Graziano Rossi
was a works rider. Valentino started out mini bike racing at the coastal resorts
near his home, then switched to 125 Sport Production to win the Italian national
title in his second attempt in 1994. In 1995 he was the youngest ever Italian
125cc champion, and third in the European championship. Moved to GP's in 1996.
Valentino was a debut-season winner in 1996 and won the 125cc title in 1997 with 12 race wins; in fact he only missed the podium twice all year. After his 125 title he moved up to 250cc on a factory Aprillia and by the end of the season seemed to have achieved dominance, with four races wins in succession and second overall in the championship. The season of '99 started slowly, but after two races Valentino caught fire and finished the year with twelve victory celebrations that included everything from burnouts to dumping his bike and jumping into stands.
2000 Rossi moves to the 500cc. The team Rossi rides for in 2000 is pretty much
the same team that took Mike Doohan to his titles, with Jeremy Burgess as crew
chief. In 2000 Rossi gets ten podium places and even two grand prix victories.
With his second place in the championship he becomes rookie of the year. In the
year 2001 'The Doctor' (his new nickname) completes the trilogy with winning the
500cc championship at the age of 22 years. With taking the this championship,
Valentino Rossi is the last true 2-stroke world champion as in the year 2002 the
4-strokes will enter the "motogp". The 500cc class will change into