On March 8th Valentino Rossi will commence his 25th season as a grand prix rider and his 21st as a competitor in the premier MotoGP category. This is a startling achievement in a sport that isn’t usually kind to its contenders.
Rossi may not have won a race since 2017, but he is still a giant of the sport. Indeed he towers over the history of motorcycle racing like no other. There have been 940 grands prix since the start of the inaugural 1949 world championship season and Rossi has contested 402 of those.
He made his grand prix debut in Malaysia on March 31st 1996, at the age of 17 years and six weeks. This was before the Sepang circuit was built. From 1991 to 1997 the Malaysian grand prix was staged at the little Shah Alam circuit, just outside Kuala Lumpur.