MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
‘The prize is pride!’
There’s no prize money at Valentino Rossi’s annual 100km dirt-track race, but the racing is just as vicious as MotoGP
Perhaps one day Valentino Rossi will work out how to sit back and rest on his laurels. But he’s not there yet.
Eleven weeks before his 40th birthday and two days after MotoGP’s longest-ever season of racing and testing, he was back at it: racing motorcycles around in circles (and hurting himself), because that’s what he likes doing.
Sunday was the biggest day of the year at the VR46 Motor Ranch, the training venue that Rossi created in 2011 just outside Tavullia – the hilltop town where he grew up.
Rossi and his gang train here most days, mastering the art of throttle control and machine control around a 2.5km dirt course that includes 13 corners: lefts, rights, uphill, downhill, all graded and manicured to provide just the right amount of grip: not too much and not too little. It’s an epic facility that dwarfs many commercial tracks.
The 100-kilometre race has been the main event at the ranch since 2014. In theory, it’s a bit of postseason fun with his friends and his young apprentices from the VR46 Riders Academy, but the reality is somewhat different.
There are no world championship points up for grabs, no prize money, no bonus money, no grandstands crammed with adoring fans, but you’d never know it. The battle for the lead – Rossi and co-rider Franco Morbidelli versus Mattia Pasini and team-mate Lorenzo Baldassarri – was fast and furious throughout most of the hour and 50 minutes. As rough and as tough as anything you see in MotoGP.
“The prize is pride, just pride!” grinned Morbidelli, who took the win with Rossi by just 1.5 seconds. “Now for one year we can tell the others, we beat you!”
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.