Valentino Rossi celebrates 30th birthday

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Italian MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi is celebrating his 30th birthday today (Monday).

Rossi, who began his world championship career with Aprilia in the 1996 125GP series, has gone onto become one of the most decorated riders in the history of Grand Prix.

Having won the 125GP crown in 1997, Rossi then graduated to the 250 class and claimed that title in 1999 for Aprilia.

He moved to the premier class in 2000 and won his first race at the British GP at Donington Park to spark an unrivalled run of success in MotoGP.

He won his first MotoGP world title in 2001, also earning the distinction of being the last rider to win a 500cc crown.

The Tavullia rider, who has made his famous number 46 the trademark of MotoGP, then embarked on a dominant period, winning the first 990cc four-stroke campaign with ease in 2002.

He won a second title in the colours of Repsol Honda in 2003 before he made a shock move to rivals Yamaha for 2004.

Although several queried the wisdom of the move, Rossi produced a heroic campaign and took the title, ending an 11-year title drought for Yamaha.

He continued his domination in 2005 with another stunning success on the YZR-M1, before his fortunes took a sudden and surprise downturn in 2006.

Rossi had the chance to win a sixth MotoGP crown when he led going into a dramatic final round title decider with American Nicky Hayden.

Rossi though crashed out and Hayden duly wrapped up a maiden world title.

Desperate to bounce back, Rossi’s was the victim of Yamaha’s failure to produce a competitive YZR-M1 machine for the first 800cc four-stroke campaign.

He won only four races in 2007 and was handed his worst ever beating by a rampant Casey Stoner and Ducati.

The son of former racer Graziano though bounced back in stunning fashion last season to win nine races on his way to winning back the world title for the first time since 2005.

A victory in a rain-lashed Indianapolis GP saw him break Giacomo Agostini’s long-standing all-time premier class victories tally.

Rossi goes into 2009 with eight world titles, 97 race wins and 151 podiums and 51 pole positions. Of his 97 victories, 71 have come in MotoGP.

Rossi will ride in MotoGP until the end of the 2010 world championship at least having signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha’s factory team.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt