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Fan celebrates seven-time MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi turning 40

2019-02-19 11:37

Sean Parker , Raoul Gomez

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Image: AFP / Mohd Rasfan

The world's most popular motorbike rider, Valentino Rossi, turned 40-years-old last Friday (Feb 15) as he enters his 19th season of professional racing. 

Rossi won the world championship nine times, but hasn't won a title since 2009. The Italian posted a series of photographs on his Instagram account on his special birthday. 

VR46

Rossi's last win came in Assen in 2017 and he has played second fiddle to five-time world champion Marc Marquez. 

The 2019 MotoGP season gets underway on March 10 in Qatar, Rossi will line up with team mate Maverick Vinales.  

Have a look at the gallery from Rossi's birthday party here and read a fan's tribute to the Italian rider below.

Wheels24 asked Raoul Gomez, a self-confessed Rossi fan, to tell us about his fascination with the Italian motorcycling ace.

Gomez says: "I started watching MotoGP in the early 1990s as a 5-year-old after being introduced to it by my Dad. I found it more exciting than Formula 1 at the time. 

"Mickey Doohan was the king of two wheels reigning supreme in the then premier class which was a 500cc two-stroke category. He was my favourite rider, an extreme Aussie with very little fear! 

"But I never thought anyone would, or could, be better than Mickey... But a certain 15-year-old named Valentino Rossi had other plans! 

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                                                Raoul Gomez in Mugello in 2017 - Image: Raoul Gomez

"Extremely fast, unorthodox racing lines, brave and aggressive overtaking and his long multi-coloured hair blowing out the back of his helmet! - even though he was only in the 125cc class riding an Aprilia - the writing was definitely on the wall- there was a new sheriff in MotoGP! 

"Rossi would go on to wow the crowd with his flamboyant style, friendly demeanour and often rebellious ways, all just to please the fans! He would often throwing his race gear (boots/helmets etc) into the crowd where his fan clubs were seated at various tracks around the world. 

"Don't forget the excessive amounts of burnouts and victory laps until race marshals would have to force him into parc fermé. 

"And of course, his brave, bold, aggressive and sometimes dramatic overtaking moves of his most fierce rivals sometimes down to the last corner on the last lap. 

"After several easy world champion titles with the Repsol Honda team over the 500cc two-stroke and the new four-stroke machines. Rossi then took on the challenge of moving to Yamaha which was a struggling MotoGP team at the time. 

"He won several titles with them as well proving that he was undoubtedly one of the best riders of his generation. 

"MotoGP had a new king who had won over the hearts of the fans too." 

Rossi pilgrimage

"In the mid-2000s at the height of his reign I promised my Father that we would watch Rossi race at his home track in Mugello, Italy before the Rossie retires. I was intent on seeing the legendary racer perform in the flesh, " Gomez continued.

"In 2017, the dream to watch Rossi ride materialised and it's difficult to put into words what the atmosphere of close to 100 000 fans who all share the same passion for one of the fastest men on two wheels. 

"There were fans as old as 90 years with 'VR46' apparel to 6-month-old babies with VR46 dummies. 

"We all journeyed from all corners of the earth deep into the Tuscan hills to see one man. 

"Light the yellow flairs, start singing and dancing! This is the king's territory!

"Happy Birthday VR46!"

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