An extra special Awards Ceremony brought down the curtains on another spectacular MotoGP World Championship season, including one final surprise.
The nine-time world champion across all classes was conferred with the honour at the 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship Awards Ceremony held after the season-ening race in Valencia, adding to a roll call of celebrations throughout the day as he hung up his racing leathers.
The emotional lap of honour after the race and hero's welcome were only the start on Sunday (November 14), and those came after a weekend already painted yellow in the number 46's honour.
Grazie Vale! Ciao Rossi
MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna Sports' CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta presented Rossi with the MotoGP Legend trophy on the stage, celebrating 26 seasons of history made and hearts captured all around the world.
The Italian joins a long list of greats who have been made MotoGP Legends that includes Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola, Kork Ballington, Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Dörflinger, Jorge 'Aspar' Martinez and the late, great Nicky Hayden.
Newly-crowned FIM MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo was one of those who took VR46 flags on the cool down lap as all the riders, for one last time stopped to cheer with the Doctor.
"I always think of this day like a nightmare, because it's the end of the a long career and I think it would be in Valencia but in the end I enjoyed it a lot so I have to thank everyone, everyone who has worked with me, the whole paddock, the other riders," said Rossi.
"It was an unforgettable day and I enjoyed it. It was a long career, and always a pleasure," added the 42-year-old.
Ezpeleta, added, "The only thing I can say to Vale is thank you very much. It's been amazing since 1997 in Malaysia, we saw a guy doing fantastic races but also very special for so many reasons.
"We started to talk with him and since that time, everything we've done together, with everyone who works in MotoGP it's been amazing.
"First of all Valentino has been an incredible rider, even yesterday, at 42, he was within tenths of Fabio.
But also his personality, the situation he's helped us to create, the Safety Commission, it's something very special. These are all the words I can say. Grazie, Valentino!"
Celebrating one title has got nothing on celebrating nine - and one of the most decorated careers of all time. At the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, The Doctor bowed out with a top ten finish to bring curtains down on an illustrious Grand Prix racing career which began in the early 90s.
Nine World Championships, 115 wins and 235 podiums across all classes are incredible numbers, but the legend is even more than those. Grazie Vale!
(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)
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