On the afternoon of November 14 Valentino Rossi will contest his last motorcycle grand prix, 26 years and seven months after his first. It’s difficult to imagine the scenes that will take place at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, outside Valencia, as fans say farewell to the rider who has been as big, or ever bigger, than MotoGP itself for much of the last two decades.
It’s also difficult to guess what theatrics Rossi may have planned, because he has long been famous for making grand, crowd-pleasing gestures in celebration of victories and career landmarks. Although, to be honest, the least grand of all his celebrations will always be his best, at least to me.
In May 1999, when he was on his way to the 250cc World Championship, Rossi won the Spanish GP at Jerez in front of a noisy capacity crowd, which always encouraged high jinks.