MCN's MotoGP rider of the year: 2nd Valentino Rossi

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MCN’s Sports Desk rank the five riders who have impressed them most in the MotoGP World Championship during the 2017 season.

2nd – Valentino Rossi

  • Best result: 1st
  • Wins: 2
  • Podiums: 10
  • Championship position: 2nd

As recently as last season, it looked like Valentino Rossi was coming to the end of a long and illustrious career in the premiere class after an amazing two decades. Yes, he finished second in the championship and only just lost out to teammate Jorge Lorenzo, but his success came as a result of experience and chance, as he showed that in terms of outright pace Rossi was rarely as fast as the young and hungry opposition of Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.

That’s why his 2016 season was so impressive, as the class veteran surprised us all once again by raising the bar, finding whole new form, and showing that he was once again able to be the best racer in the world when things aligned just right.

He proved that with a series of utterly dominant wins, taking successes in Jerez and Barcelona (and cruelly denied another in Mugello by a blown engine) that looked like the Rossi of the past; one that we haven’t really seen since before his departure to Ducati.

However, with the extra pace came something less welcome; the risk of crashing. And that was what cost him the title in the end, as the normally careful racer fell three times from races, eventually gifting the title to the restrained-but-consistent Marc Marquez by crashing out of the Japanese Grand Prix.

But while it might have been a hard lesson for Rossi, there’s no doubt that a rider of his prodigious experience will learn from it. Going into the new year with a faster than ever young teammate in the case of Maverick Viñales (the perfect case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for Rossi just when he’d seen the back of fast Spanish teammates with the departure of Jorge Lorenzo), it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him, if he can combine the lessons of 2016 with the motivation Viñales will surely bring to the veteran.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer