Rossi guarantees his legacy

2020 has left the first podium of an academy rider (Morbidelli) in MotoGP. Luca Marini, Rossi's brother, is the leader of Moto2 and Vietti sneaks into the top-10 of Moto3.


Permanent: "To last long, subsist, stay". The career of a pilot, so fleeting and so ephemeral, has an expiration date from the moment it begins. Some chosen ones try to defy time, like Valentino Rossi, who at 41 years old is still riding his Yamaha, smashing all longevity records. Still, nothing is eternal and that is something that Rossi himself knows. People pass, but the works remain, and Rossi's is none other than the VR46 Academy, his guarantee to endure.

The 'Il Dottore' academy is in good health. Morbidelli got the first podium for the VR46 Academy in MotoGP in Brno, Luca Marini is the leader of Moto2 and formed a historic podium in Jerez alongside Bezzecchi, another 'made in Rossi' rider. And in Moto3 Celestino Vietti also made his debut on the podium at the Ángel Nieto circuit. Rossi's best work begins to carbure.

The idea of Simoncelli

Between 2011 and 2012, Valentino Rossi did not enjoy racing. His arrival at Ducati was not as expected and his dream of winning a title on an Italian motorcycle was gone. It was then, training on his ranch with his friend Marco Simoncelli, that the idea arose of forming a pilot school that would take Italian pilots to the front line.

Surrounded by people they trust, such as Vito Guareschi or Uccio, they observed the success of Spanish motorcycling with the Movistar Cup, the Bancaja Cup or the CEV itself. The Spanish pilots had behind them the support of the RACC or Dorna, while in Italy the aid was conspicuous by its absence. Valentino's gym had become a mecca for young riders, where the seven-time MotoGP champion gave them technical advice for their training. When the time came, the need to do it professionally was born and championships such as those previously mentioned were impossible to carry out with Rossi's sole financial support, so he opted for his own academy.

From success to doubts

I had the training center, the pilots and it lacked ... the structure. So in 2014 he reached an agreement with KTM to create the SKY Racing Team by VR46 in the Moto3 category, led by the Spanish Pablo Nieto. The results were not long in coming, and Romano Fenati was victorious four times. An unbeatable start for Rossi's project.

In parallel with the team, 'Il Dottore' agreed with Yamaha for the loan of several motorcycles so that their boys could ride both on their ranch and in Missano, where they arranged twelve test days a year. But the idea was not only to train but to win. In 2016 it reached an agreement with Forward Racing and EG 0,0 Marc VDS to incorporate its best promises: Luca Marini, Lorenzo Baldasarri and Franco Morbidelli. In 2017 he went one step further and together with Kalex he formed his Moto 2 team, with Pecco Bagnaia and Stefano Manzi as starting riders.

That 2017 was the year the VR46 finally broke the door. Morbidelli swept the Moto2 championship with eight victories in 18 races, taking 63 points ahead of his immediate pursuer, the Swiss Thomas Luthi. While another member of the academy, Bagnaia, also finished within the top-10 (6th) .

The following season had its protagonist in Bagnaia himself. The one from Turin had an intense fight with Miguel Oliveira for the World Cup to finally win it by only nine points. Second consecutive championship and this time with the official academy team. His pilots won, the school evolved and Rossi smiled.

Step back and consolidate this season

Sometimes you have to take two steps back to take two steps forward. Last year the VR46 Academy experienced a setback that was not expected. Lorenzo Baldassarri, Nicolo Bulega and Dennis Foggia announced their departure from the structure, which meant the flight of a quarter of the academy (11 pilots in 2019). "You have to open your mind to other options," said the team's director, Pablo Nieto, after learning of the rout.

However, 2020 has brought new life to the VR46 Academy. Jerez, many times a talisman (nine victories and 16 podiums for Rossi), witnessed the return of the Italian to the podium a year later, the second and third of Marini and Bezzecchi in Moto 2 and the third place of Vietti in Moto3. "I am so proud of my pilots, of our guys from the VR Academy. There is a great relationship and we do a great job. They help me a lot when I am frustrated by a bad result, they are always pushing me and being with them makes me less old, more young. It's a great moment for Sky and for the Academy, "reflected Valentino.

The Brno GP brought the first podium for a member of the academy in the premier class with second place for Morbidelli, who dedicated the result to his mentor. "I am here for Valentino, he believed in me when I was nobody. I know our relationship may seem strange because we race against each other, but when the race ends we become very friends again." For the first time, Rossi has a title candidate in MotoGP and Pecco Bagnaia as one of the main candidates to replace Dovizioso at Ducati. The leader of the Moto2 World Championship is his brother Luca Marini and Celestino Vietti is sixth in Moto3. Although the end of his career is near, the surname Rossi will continue to ring in the World Cup for a long time.

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