Already a legend, Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) has been inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame and is now an official MotoGP Legend! The nine-time World Champion was surprised with the honour at the MotoGP Awards Ceremony.
The emotional lap of honour after the race and hero’s welcome were only the start on Sunday, and those came after a weekend already painted yellow in the number 46’s honour. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta presented Rossi with the MotoGP™ Legend trophy on the stage, celebrating 26 seasons of history made and hearts captured around the world. Nine World Championships, 115 wins and 235 podiums across all classes are incredible numbers, but the legend is even more than those.
The Italian joins a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP™ Legends that includes Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola, Kork Ballington, Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Dörflinger, Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez and the late, great Nicky Hayden.
Valentino Rossi, MotoGP™ Legend: “I always think of this day like a nightmare, because it’s the end of the a long career and I think it would be in Valencia but in the end I enjoyed it a lot so I have to thank everyone, everyone who has worked with me, the whole paddock, the other riders… it was an unforgettable day and I enjoyed it. It was a long career, and always a pleasure.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports: “The only thing I can say to Vale is thank you very much. It’s been amazing since 1997 in Malaysia, we saw a guy doing fantastic races but also very special for so many reasons. We started to talk with him and since that time, everything we’ve done together, with everyone who works in MotoGP it’s been amazing.
“First of all Valentino has been an incredible rider, even yesterday, at 42, he was within tenths of Fabio. But also his personality, the situation he’s helped us to create, the Safety Commission, it’s something very special… Grazie, Valentino!”
The Champions and winners in 2021 also took centre stage, including – of course – newly-crowned MotoGP™ World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) fresh from Moto2™ glory and the Moto3™ history maker himself, rookie World Champion Pedro Acosta.
The 2021 Awards were hosted by Gavin Emmett and Andrea Schlager, with FIM President Jorge Viegas and Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta in attendance to present the range of awards throughout the evening to all the winners this season.
Quartararo was the MotoGP™ main event as he received his trophy after making history as the first French premier class World Champion, and he picked up the BMW M Award for best qualifier in the MotoGP™ class once again. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducat Lenovo Team) was on stage as runner up, and 2020 Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was once again in the top three.
The Tissot Pole of Poles winners this season were Bagnaia, Raul Fernandez and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) in MotoGP™, Moto2™ and Moto3™ respectively, and they picked up their prizes.
The top three in the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup were also honoured: Cup winner Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40), runner up Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt IntactGP) and third overall Matteo Ferrari (Indonesian E-Racing Gresini MotoE), with Aegerter receiving his award remotely.
The top Independent Team rider title went to Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) after another season of consistent speed and excellence from the Frenchman, and this year’s MotoGP™ Rookie of the Year award was presented to his teammate Jorge Martin after a stunning debut for the Spaniard – including a first premier class win, a host of poles and another podium to round out the year too.
In Moto2™, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez, after breaking some of Marc Marquez’ records in the class, was crowned Rookie of the Year. In Moto3™, by definition it was also a clear winner as a rookie stormed the Championship: Pedro Acosta.
Ducati swept the Team and Constructor titles in the premier class, with the Bologna factory taking their highest number of podiums ever – and earlier in the day having taken their first ever 1-2-3. Ducati Lenovo Team were the Team Champions too. Kalex came out on top in Moto2™, and KTM in Moto3™. The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup winner David Alonso and FIM MiniGP World Series Champion Izan Rodriguez were also applauded for their seasons.
And so the curtain falls, and we bid farewell to a rider who sparked the soul of the sport. Ciao Vale, grazie – and let’s celebrate an incredible career before the lights go out in 2022 for more incredible racing!