Valentino Rossi (born February 16, 1979in Urbino) is an Italian professional motorcycle racer and multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time, with 7 Grand Prix World Championships to his name. In 2006, he narrowly missed an 8th title by scoring a second place in the Championship, and with three races to go in the 2007 season, he lost out again, this time to Australian Casey Stoner. According to Sports Illustrated, Rossi is the 7th highest earning sports personality in the world (2nd outside the United States), earning an estimated $30 million a year.
Following his father, Graziano Rossi, Rossi started racing in Grand Prix in 1996 for Aprilia in the 125cc category and won his first World Championship the following year. From there, he moved up to the 250 cc category, again with Aprilia, and won the World Championship in 1999. He won the 500 cc World Championship with Honda in 2001, the MotoGP World Championships (also with Honda) in 2002 and 2003, and continued his streak of back-to-back championships by winning the 2004 and 2005 MotoGP World Championship after leaving Honda to join Yamaha.
2001 was the final year of the 500 cc World Championship; the 500 cc giving way to the newly created MotoGP class. 2002 was the inaugural year for the MotoGP bikes and with all riders experiencing the same teething problems getting used to the new bikes (or dealing with the inferior 500 cc bikes), Rossi won the first race went on to win 8 of the first 9 races of the season, eventually claiming 11 victories in total.
It was more of the same in 2003 for Rossi's rivals; Rossi claimed 9 pole positions as well as 9 GP wins to his third consecutive World Championship. The Australian GP at Phillip Island in 2003 is considered to be one of Rossi's greatest career moments due to the unique circumstances in which he claimed victory. After being given a 10-second penalty for overtaking during a yellow flag due to a crash by Ducati rider Troy Bayliss, 1st-place Rossi proceeded to pull away from the rest of the field, eventually finishing more than 15 seconds ahead; more than enough to cancel out the penalty and win the race
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