Rossi scores his 115th win and a heart attack final lap. Why do we care so much?
In case you lived in a cave for the last 20 years, I’ll make you a short summary. Last Sunday, Rossi won his 115th GP scoring the 10th victory of his career in Assen. The first was in 1997 when he was 18. He is now 7 victories away from the most successful rider of all time, Giacomo Agostini. Not that he needs to prove something to anyone. He’s also 7 points from the lead of the Championship and this is unbelievable because for the first part of the season the situation was quite desperate.
Why does it mean so much to us
In 1997, I had a cellphone phone the size of a brick that couldn’t send any SMS. It was useless to call either because none of my friends had a cell phone. I was racing on mountain roads. The 125cc 2 strokes were fast oil burning machines. Now we make video conferences from our smartphones and the 2 stroke engine is extinct after the 90s like men with a ponytail. But Valentino is still there, fighting for the victory. Hungry like he’s never won a race in his life. We’ve seen him going through crashes, pain, glory, more glory, breaking records, losing, going down, and then rising from a bad place and winning again.
Sun and comets
Many were the riders who challenged him over the decades. Some of them claimed to be the new star. But this is like comparing comets to the sun. Valentino is a 70s child and learned to race in the 90s which was completely different from today. He had to learn a new riding style every time the game changed. He continued to shine over the decades.
Is it about age?
I think for us is also about age. You see, 38 is a lot for a normal racing rider but for a winning one is even more. If you’ve ever done a sport or you’ve found yourself in a competitive field you know how does it feel. The world changes and at some point when it gets hard, we tend to think we don’t fit anymore. “Things were easier back then” is what we keep thinking. Valentino has a totally different approach.
In 1997 in the 125cc WC, the one who was the hardest on the brakes was Martinez. The young Rossi said to himself: “Nobody brakes as late as Martinez, so I have to brake after Martinez”. Like when Marquez arrived in MotoGP, Rossi had to learn a new riding style if he wanted to stay competitive. And we can learn a lot from this mindset. Every time we feel stuck in a dead end, it doesn’t necessarily mean we had to stop or go back, probably we should just learn something new.
After twenty years of great battles and dramatic overtakes we feel him close, like one of us. But because he’s pursuing victory without caring about how young are his rivals, how strong is the competition, and how unfair life can be on some occasion, he shows us a better version of us. Rossi shows us what we are capable of if we are willing to put the work, the time, and the effort. We can win. Even if we’re not the youngest anymore.