I’d like to congratulate you on your news report on Valentino Rossi’s F1 test in your April issue.
I’ve been surprised by the lack of interest by other car magazines in Rossi’s performances in racing cars. His achievements in motorcycle racing are unprecedented, showing a talent that is regarded by some as out of this world. You reported that Rossi was only 0.6sec slower than Michael Schumacher in a comparable car. In my opinion this is nothing short of sensational.
But Rossi has shown talent on four wheels on other occasions too. Earlier this year he beat Colin McRae during the Monza rally. Later he tested a kart during the Bologna Motor Show and, even though he had never raced a geared kart before, Rossi was only a few tenths slower than the Italian World Champion to whom the kart belonged. And when he tried an Italian GT Championship Maserati MC12 he got to the same times as the car’s regular drivers in little more than 10 laps. If this doesn’t show incredible talent, no-one in car racing ever had any.
I was also surprised by Fernando Alonso, who told the press that he saw Rossi as only capable of a fifth place, maybe an occasional podium in F1, and said that he too, given some testing, could achieve podiums on a MotoGP bike. Rossi responded in his usual flamboyant style, challenging Alonso to a race in an F1 car, a WRC rally car and a MotoGP bike. Alonso reacted by saying he’d rather focus on his F1 season. As a side story, Michael Schumacher, a keen motorcyclist, tested a Ducati MotoGP bike at Mugello and he was some 16 seconds slower than Rossi’s times at the same track.
I regard Alonso very highly, but in the whole of car racing history I can’t think of a single car racer ever delivering the goods in a motorcycle race. Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood’s return to bikes after his time in F1 doesn’t count, as Hailwood was already a multiple champion on bikes before he switched to cars.
Bike racers switching to cars with success are plenty: Tazio Nuvolari, `Schorsch’ Meier, Piero Taruffi, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood and Johnny Cecotto to name a few.
I hope the world of car racing will start to appreciate just what sort of talent and person Rossi is once he makes the switch to cars.
Dieter Ryekaert, Vollezele, Belgium.
[Let’s hope Rossi gets on better than Giacomo Agostini did — Ed]