Misano - The farewell is yellow and it hurts. Italy's MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi is contesting his last professional race in his home country.
Fans from all over the world, a breathtaking performance by the "Frecce Tricolori", the aerobatic pilots of the Italian Air Force, a long night and tears at the end...
For two-wheeler fans, MotoGP is the premier class, Formula 1. And Valentino Rossi is the 9-time crowned emperor, the record world champion. From the very bottom, "VR46" has worked his way to the very, very top. 11.6 million fans on Instagram, 13 million on Facebook.
Today, Rossi trains young riders in his own academy. They are already little stars, Rossi's glamour is rubbing off. But Rossi is still "the normal guy" from Tavullia.
The last fan parade for Rossi
His home is Tavullia, a nest of 17,000 souls in the hinterland of Rimini. When the seaside resort had its heyday in the 80s, people still laughed at the "peasants" from Tavullia. Today, Tavullia is known worldwide mainly because of Valentino Rossi. "He feeds everyone," says one villager.
In addition to the academy, Rossi runs a pizzeria with a large fan shop, an ice cream parlour and almost a dozen merchandise stands at every race. Rossi, the employer. Tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of fans come to Tavullia every year and leave money with everyone in the village. Rossi, the money machine.
The fact that Rossi still lives in Tavullia (and not in Monaco or Milan) is apparently a matter of course for him. He also has his own motocross track, his "ranch" on site - with a waiting area for fans. And whenever Rossi comes, he gets out, gives ANYONE and EVERYONE an autograph and poses for selfies.
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That's another reason why fans all over the world love Valentino Rossi. Because he is still the normal guy from the village in Emilia-Romagna.
Party before the last race
Even though Rossi hasn't ridden at the top for a few years now, his YELLOW dominates the stands at every race - no matter in which country. His MotoGP opponents (all much younger) shamelessly out themselves as fans, VR46 has been their idol since childhood.
Many fear the first season without Rossi - after 26 years. Many fans don't even know MotoGP without him.
On 24 October, Rossi gets on his motorbike for the last time in Italy - on his doorstep, of all places, at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. The night before, his village organises a big party for all the fans. Great harmony in yellow.
And then, when the last lap of honour has been completed and Rossi has received the award as "World Ambassador" for Italy, it really is over. The fans are still standing in front of the racetrack hours later, waving flags. As if they couldn't believe it...
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written by Annie Kayser, first published 2.11.21
Source: on site