Twenty-five years ago Valentino Rossi had recently completed his first season of international racing. Between May and October of 1995, the 16-year-old had contested the European 125cc championship, not only failing to win the title but failing to win a single race.
The European championships were the final step of the ladder before grand prix racing. Each year the top three finishers
in each category were guaranteed a place on the grid in the following year’s world championships. In 1995 Rossi was like most teenage hotshots: riding on natural ability, not thinking too much, making plenty of mistakes and generally just mucking around.
“At first it was quite difficult,” recalls his crew chief Mauro Noccioli. “We had to be careful not to put too much pressure on him. He loved riding the bike, but when he was off the bike he wanted to play around on his bicycle and on his PlayStation. We realised we had to let him do all of that, because this life needed to be fun for him.”