Valentino Rossi dedicated his sixth MotoGP crown to late Yamaha star Norick Abe at the Twin Ring Motegi yesterday.
Rossi was a huge fan of Abe and when he started his world championship career in 1996 he arrived with the nickname ‘Rossifumi’, such was his support for the Japanese rider.
Rossi’s admiration for Abe started when he watched him as a wild card riding for Honda in the 1994 Japanese GP in Suzuka.
Abe was fighting with Mick Doohan and Kevin Schwantz before he crashed late in an enthralling race. That performance dazzled a 14-year-old Rossi and he said: “Norick for me was a hero. I grew up watching the Suzuka 500 race in 1994 with the great battle he had together with Schwantz and Doohan.
"Last year was a shit year for me when I heard of the death of Norick and Colin McRea, for me it was not a great year. I think it is possible to dedicate this championship to Norick.”
Rossi’s AGV helmet sported a special sticker in memory of Abe during yesterday’s Japanese GP, where his eighth win of the season ensured he secured the world title with three races remaining.
Abe, a three-times 500 GP race winner, was killed in a road accident last year.