Happy birthday, Valentino Rossi -
16th February 2009
Valentino Rossi turns 30 today, 16th
February 2009. The Fiat Yamaha rider has had an immensely
successful career to date, winning eight world championships,
97 races and becoming the most successful premier-class
rider of all time. As he enters his 14th season in
the world championship, his sixth with Yamaha, he
is still the dominating force in the sport, having
recaptured the title in typically exciting style last
Below is a collection of quotes from colleagues,
fellow riders, family and a few of his more famous
fans. Some are recollections of favourite moments
with Valentino, whilst some are simply messages for
him on the day he turns 30. All are different ways
of saying ‘Happy Birthday, Valentino!'
Davide Brivio (Fiat Yamaha Team Manager)
"I don't really have a favourite memory of
Valentino, or at least it's difficult to choose the
‘absolute best!' The first one that comes to
mind however is just after the Welkom race in 2004,
his famous first MotoGP race with Yamaha. Before Valentino
finally joined Yamaha, during one of the meetings
the previous September, he said that he wanted to
win his first race with Yamaha! This immediately created
a lot of pressure for me and for Yamaha, but anyway
I promised him that we would all try all our best.
Honestly at that time I felt that it was going to
be a very difficult thing to achieve! During the final
few pre-season tests the chances of doing it began
to look better and better, but in a race itself anything
can happen. Incredibly, he won that race in Welkom
and just after it, after the technical meeting had
finished, we were alone in his changing room. Somebody
had left a bottle of wine in the fridge and we opened
it and raised a toast to that day way back in September,
when he had first said that he wanted to win this
race. "We did it!" I said to him. It was
a very emotional moment for me because it was the
moment we achieved our very first target together.
Cesare Cremonini (Singer and friend)
"Vale is a fighter, but armed with a smile.
I've never seen him lose his humanity, even in the
most difficult moments. One time I found him making
gags and jokes as if he was at home with friends,
when in fact he had just a couple of minutes to go
before a decisive race. While he was putting on his
leathers, ready to go out and challenge the world,
he transmitted a joy for life, listening to a song
on his ipod. "Ciao Ragazzi! See you later!"
He said. Then came a sweeping victory at the limits
of possibility and a long night of partying together!
Happy Birthday, Vale!"
Tom Cruise (Actor and Rossi Fan)
"Valentino, You are a true champion. You keep
raising the bar, relentlessly pursuing the next race,
the next challenge, the next championship. I also
know that the victories don't necessarily become easier.
You have to dig deeper, work even harder, become more
focused to overcome the distractions. That's what
you do. And I, like countless others, know that when
you're on that track anything is possible. It was
my great pleasure to be there at Laguna Seca and see
you take that victory. I can honestly say I've never
seen anything like it! You certainly don't disappoint!
Thank you for all the great races you have given us,
and for all the great races yet to come. Happy Birthday."
Daniel-Day Lewis (Actor and Rossi Fan)
"Every race, every win, every championship!
Vale the kid in the portaloo is an old favourite,
always irresistible in victory and gracious in defeat
(not that he had to prove it very often!) But the
all-time favourite memory for me would be him at Laguna
Seca going inside Stoner through the dirt. Death or
glory; the whole race an answer to those daft enough
still to have a question. And to have shaken the hand
of that man - that I won't forget either."
Aldo Drudi (Designer and Rossi Fan)
"Cattolica, August 1996, 2pm, very hot. I'm
travelling by motorbike on a deserted road towards
the sea, when a small and colourful outline appears
from an intersection ahead, going very fast. A young
boy on a scooter ‘closes' the corner, accentuates
the bend, runs around the pavement, straightens up
and pulls a wheelie... he holds the wheelie on the
aqua-green Zip for more than 200 metres, still on
the gas. I accelerate and catch him up. The boy lets
go of the left handlebar and lifts the left hand in
a sign of victory. I recognise him and follow him.
Finally he lowers the wheel and with his feet on the
footrests he throws embraces and salutes all around
the road to his imaginary fans. He notices me, right
beside him, and smiles. Happy Birthday Vale!"
Colin Edwards (Team-mate 2005/06/07 and now
Tech3 Yamaha rider)
"I have a few fond memories of Vale starting
from 2000. Our 2002 victory at the Suzuka 8-Hour was
something special, but I'd have to say my one memory
that stands out is Laguna 2005. Basically, we were
both healthy and fighting for every inch. I did have
a slight advantage knowing the track since 1992. As
I can recall, it was the first time we were together
on track racing close; as most would confirm, he was
usually ten seconds in front of me leading by this
point in the race! Then he mounted a charge on the
last two laps that came up just short...I was happy
we didn't have one more lap! Haha!!!! It's not really
a memory that I beat him, it's more of a memory of
racing side by side with what I consider "The
Goat", which translates as The Greatest Of All
Time. Happy birthday, you old man!"
Carmelo Ezpeleta (CEO, Dorna Sports)
"My favourite "Valentino moment"
is remembering the unique human quality that he showed
after his battle with Nicky Hayden for the 2006 MotoGP
Championship. It is very easy to behave like a champion
when you win, but Rossi's attitude after losing was
admirable and impressive."
Lin Jarvis (Managing Director, Yamaha Motor
"It's difficult to think of a single moment
but I guess one of the most memorable moments was
during the 2003 season when Valentino had his first
meeting with the Yamaha YZR-M1. We had started our
secret discussions earlier that year for a possible
future move to Yamaha. Vale said he wanted to have
a real look at the Yamaha M1 bike so we agreed to
organize a secret rendezvous in the paddock at the
Donington GP. To keep it secret we arranged to meet
on Saturday night in the Yamaha Factory Team pit box.
After midnight Vale arrived in a dark parka jacket
with the hood up. He looked like a burglar coming
to steal our stuff! Once inside he greeted everybody
there and introduced himself and then took his time
to look at Carlos Checa's M1 from every angle before
asking our permission if he could sit on the bike.
We were so surprised by his humility and modesty and
even more surprised when he paid a complement to us
by stating that it was "not so bad" after
all. His attitude on that first night time meeting
said a lot about the man. Since then I have seen a
hundred more examples... Happy Birthday, Vale!"
Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team-mate, 2008/09)
"I want to say Happy Birthday to my team-mate
Valentino. It is great for me to be racing with a
legend like him, but maybe now he's 30 he might slow
down a little bit!"
Marco Materazzi (Inter Milan football player
"We met thanks to Inter, but we became friends
thanks to motorbikes: our two great passions! Now
the stadium and the circuit are occasions to be fans
for one another and to try to bring good luck; you
for me and I for you. But the moment in which we feel
the truest friends is when we're having dinner together
at my house, sitting together at the same table. There
we are just Marco and Valentino, two who for many
reasons see life in the same way. Today I am just
like you, when you put your number on to race it is
the double of me when I put mine on to play, because
I have 23! For your 30th I give you ‘double'
greetings. And one more special thing to remember,
to succeed in keeping our ‘secret' promise,
the one which we can only tell when we've achieved
it! Happy birthday Vale!"
Guido Meda (Italian TV commentator and friend)
"The end of testing, the slow-down lap. Valentino
sees you from the track and goes to wave at you. It's
a quick movement and it seems trivial, but it's a
sign, a sign of how he focuses his attention; on the
bike while he needs to, on the man when he can. He
separates the moments, detaches them, changes and
reasons. This is why everyone always wants him as
their poster boy. The Valentino I know above all defeats
what is normal while the legend grows. Now he turns
30, what can I say? As before, he still has his feet
on the ground. He is ruthless and very much a perfectionist.
He is easy-going and always curious with his own taste
for an interesting life, but he is normal. After eight
titles and 97 victories, I would like to be sure that
I tell the story in the right way and, although the
legend continues to grow, I can always find simple
Stefania Palma (Mother)
"I have thought about what to tell you through
the media for your 30th birthday... I could have dealt
with sun, stars, mountains, love and happiness...
but I feel it is more right to say, simply... HAPPY
Carlo Pernat (Journalist and friend)
"How could I not love you, Valentino? The champions
know exactly what they have to do, instinctively.
I remember in 1997, when we were making your first
TV advert. You had to endure a day with a fussy and
long-winded director, who couldn't finish and had
to adjourn until the next day. You left and, with
your friend Uccio you called to warn that you were
already home at your house, and where you were staying
also the next day! Straugurissimi, Legend!"
Wayne Rainey (World Champion with Yamaha
"Happy 30th birthday Valentino! I love to watch
when the odds are against you, the battle is on. Your
passion to win is visible and I respect that very
much. 30 years old...life is just beginning for you!"
Kenny Roberts Senior (World Champions with
"Valentino, when I first saw you ride at the
ranch in Barcelona... I thought Kevin Schwantz was
tall and skinny! You were very impressive then as
you are now! Good luck and Happy Birthday!"
Graziano Rossi (Father)
"Simply... I would like to wish him to get
to 40 without growing up anymore and then after 40...
Rino Salucci (Friend and president of official fan
"Am I asking too much if I ask for 30 more years
of excitement? Well, I can live with half!
Uccio Salluci (Best friend)
"I hope that for the next 30 years Vale will
be as fast as he has been in the previous 30 and that
he gives us more passes and excitement like we had
at Laguna Seca 2008. 30 more Corkscrews, Vale!"
Marco Simoncelli (250cc World Champion and
"Happy Birthday, Bomber! Although you are now
30, try to give us as much excitement as you have
given to us until you were 29! Auguri! Sic58"
Gigi Soldano (Official photographer and friend)
"I know that every time I work with him something
different will happen once again. One more time his
image is in front of my lens and once again I have
a different feeling and taste to be working with him.
His little wrinkles, his determined gaze with his
piercing eyes, which look right through you if you
are not quick to change the shot. We play a game and
by now he knows what expression I want before I have
even asked, just like a team-mate in a match. The
expressions stay in my mind as memories. This is what
having Vale in front of the camera means, every time.
I am always happy that I have the good fortune to
work with him. Today he is posing for me with a chocolate
cake to celebrate his 30th birthday. I shoot it as
simply as possible; It's not necessary to have anything
else to make it a unique shot. A white background
is enough, and once again we relax into the ‘groove'.
A song comes into my head: "When you have a sunny
day in December, you can say that summer is already
here! Congratulations, Vale!"
James Toseland (Tech3 Yamaha rider)
"30 is a big milestone for a racer because,
even though you're not really old as a person, you're
starting to be one of the older ones in professional
racing and you start to feel that you can't go on
forever! I don't think it's a problem for Valentino
however, he seems to still feel 25 so as long as that
continues he'll be just fine! Happy Birthday and have
a great party!"