SportMotoGPMotoGP retires Valentino Rossi's #46 officially at Mugello

MotoGP retires Valentino Rossi's #46 officially at Mugello

Valentino Rossi retired from MotoGP at the end of the 2021 season, having made his debut in the World Championship in 1996.

In a career that spanned 26 seasons, Rossi won nine world titles in the 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP categories – seven of them in the premier class – and 115 grands prix, 89 of them in the top category.

MotoGP announced during the French GP two weeks ago that it would withdraw Rossi’s famous #46 from the eligible numbers for riders, at a special ceremony on Saturday at Mugello.

It was an announcement that has drawn criticism, as Rossi has stated in the past that he would not like his number to be retired.

“About my number, I was thinking, my first impression is that I don’t like the number 46 to be retired. I prefer it to stay and if any other driver wants to wear that number they can,” Rossi said on the subject back in 2016.

At a ceremony on the Mugello pit lane on Saturday afternoon ahead of MotoGP qualifying, Rossi’s number was retired with the nine-time world champion in attendance, as well as much of the paddock.

Rossi was presented with a special trophy bearing his number before heading to the Mugello main stand.

“I have to say thank you for all this, it’s unbelievable,” Rossi said, adding when asked about returning to MotoGP: “Oh, my back and knees hurt, so I realized I’m older. It’s been amazing, thank you all.”

Valentino Rossi

Rossi maintains a strong presence on the MotoGP grid through his team, VR46 Ducati, and its Academy riders.

Currently, there are four VR46 Academy riders on the MotoGP grid, with Pecco Bagnaia at Ducati, Franco Morbidelli at Yamaha , and Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi at VR46 Racing.

Since his retirement from MotoGP, Rossi has embarked on a motorsport career in the GT World Challenge Europe with WRT and Audi. However , the Italian is heavily involved with his racing team during grand prix weekends, and is expected to feature in a couple more rounds in 2022, having been at Portimao and Mugello.

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