The nine times world champion has won all his titles in Dainese leathers, MCN is granted unique access to the factory’s secret stash of Rossi suits
Valentino Rossi and Dainese are celebrating a magical 20-year partnership. Rossi has been a Dainese supported rider since he started in GPs in 1996 at just 17 years of age. Incredibly just one man, Dainese master tailor Silvano Celi, has been responsible for every set of leathers Rossi has worn. For two decades the pair have created some of the most memorable and champagne-soaked suits in racing history. We spent the day with Silvano, a close friend of Rossi, in the Dainese vault in Molvena, Italy to discover the secrets of the greatest racer’s leathers.
1996 APRILIA 9th 125GP, 1 win
These are Rossi’s first made-to-measure leathers from Dainese. Silvano recalls the 16-year-old: “He hasn’t changed much; he’s still the boy he was then.” The Rossifumi logo (right) is a nickname based on Norifumi ‘Norick’ Abe – Rossi was a big fan of the late Japanese rider, and also had Valentino Rossi in Japanese lower down. Rossi was still wearing Alpinestars boots then, which explains the logo on the suit’s upper arms.
1997 APRILIA 1st 125GP, 11 wins
In 1997 Dainese started to introduce Kangaroo skin in place of cowhide and these are Rossi’s first set made of the lighter leather. Rossi likes to keep his old kit and it’s especially hard to separate him from his leathers (he has over 100 sets at home in Tavullia). Rossi did let Dainese have these leathers, but he kept the worn knee sliders.
1998 APRILIA 2nd 250GP, 5 wins
This was the first year Rossi was totally clad in Dainese, and the first year he wore boots inside leathers. Rossi loved this aerodynamic design and said the smaller, lighter boots were like wearing trainers. The writing on the leathers is a thank you to Dainese (right) while the damage is from a practice crash at the French GP (Rossi finished second in the race.)
2000 HONDA 2nd 500GP, 2 wins
These Nastro Azzurro Honda leathers saw action at Valencia, where Rossi, racing in the top class for the first time, needed to beat Kenny Roberts Jr to keep the championship alive. Pushing hard, he crashed, effectively handing the crown to Roberts. WLF is now an established regular on all Rossi’s leathers, as is the famous number 46, the racing number of Rossi’s dad, Graziano.
2001 HONDA 1st 500GP, 11 wins
Rossi dominated on his NSR500 and became the last man to win the premier world championship on a 500, beating arch rival Max Biaggi in the process.This was the year Rossi took the name ‘The Doctor’ on the back of the leathers. This is nothing to do with medicine, but refers to him graduating from the smaller classes to the notorious 500s, a confirmation of his expertise, like anacademic doctorate.
2010 YAMAHA 3rd in MotoGP, 2 wins
Rossi’s title challenge ended when he broke his leg at Mugello. The airbag was activated during the crash but Rossi suffered a displaced compound fracture to his right tibia. Silvano still has what’s left of the leathers after they were cut off by the medical team. The damage to the lining of his boot (right) was caused by Rossi’s tibia. Rossi showed his toughness by finishing fourth at the German GP just 41 days later.
2012 DUCATI 6TH in MotoGP, 0 wins
Rossi’s second year on the problematic Ducati and he continued to crash. Silvano estimates 10 in total for the year, a high number for Rossi. The damage here is from the race at Laguna Seca on the fast approach to The Corkscrew. Rossi was uninjured and was picked up by team-mate Nicky Hayden on the cool-down lap.
2013 YAMAHA 4TH in MotoGP, 1 win
Back to Yamaha and the crash rate halved. Rossi still insisted on extra Kevlar on the shins to protect the metal in his right tibia. You can also see Rossi was starting to scrape his elbow. The damage on the leather is from a crash at Mugello when Bautista collided with Rossi on the first lap. Bautista’s footpeg went into the side of Rossi’s leathers but it didn’t penetrate his skin.
2014 YAMAHA 2ND in MotoGP, 2 wins
Rossi jettisoned Jeremy Burgess and finished second in the championship behind Marc Marquez. His airbag was only deployed five times in 2014. The damage here is from qualifying in Brno – a 120mph lowside. The airbag has been deployed and Rossi sustained no major injuries. Rossi was also wearing a new back protector, which took some of the impact. He went on to finish third in the race despite an injured finger.