He’s old and he’s fat
I’m joking, of course, but not entirely
Valentino Rossi’s 113th Grand Prix victory was historic and much more. It was the success that brought him to within ten wins of Giacomo Agostini’s record of 122 victories, which for many decades was presumed forever impregnable. Hard to believe, but his 87th premier-class win was also the first time in 17 seasons in the big class that Rossi had led from pole position and from start to finish.
Rossi won his first Grand Prix in August 1996, three months after his first decent GP result, a fourth-place finish, just metres shy of the podium, at Jerez, funnily enough. After that race sidekick Uccio Salucci said, “that’s when I thought, hmm, maybe it’s possible that something good comes out of this, not just one victory or one podium, maybe something more…”
To attempt to fully understand the enormity of Rossi’s unique career it’s worth rewinding to 1996 to remind ourselves what else was going on in the world at the time.