The end of Valentino Rossi’s motorcycle racing career is the start of a new chapter, the beginning of a new era in motorcycling itself and for the professional rider from Tavullia. Valentino’s is leaving an important legacy to the world championship, and you can put names to it: Niccolò Antonelli, Francesco Bagnaia, Marco Bezzecchi, Stefano Manzi, Luca Marini, Andrea Migno, Franco Morbidelli, Alberto Surra and Celestino Vietti, in strict alphabetical order.
The nine VR46 Riders Academy riders, raised in sports terms by the nine-time world champion, are more than just students. They’re an extension of his identity as professional rider. In Valencia, these nine extraordinary young riders wear nine replica graphics of legendary helmets that Valentino, the Doctor, has worn over the 26 years of his incredible career, their favorites, to celebrate their teacher.
Let’s rediscover all of the nine graphics originally created on the AGV helmets of the time, from the Q3 Pro of the mid 1990s to the final evolution of the racing helmet, the Pista GP RR.
Valentino’s early years are characterized by exuberance and the most colorful and complex graphics, made in different variants and for different occasions. The first is Peace & Love from the 1999 Mugello Grand Prix, raced and won riding an Aprilia 250. The colors of the bike, suit and helmet, in this case the AGV X-Vent, are completely revised to celebrate the Italian GP. These are unforgettable graphics for fans, with the detail of the red Valentipeace & Love lettering on both sides of the bike’s fairing.
In Valencia 2021, more than twenty years later, these legendary graphics return to racing on Franco Morbidelli’s Pista GP RR.
The new helmet for the 2001 season was to replace the glorious first Soleluna (sun and moon) graphics from 1996–2000, with which Valentino won his first two world championships. 2001 was the year of the third, the first in the premier class. The graphics, now brought back to the track by Andrea Migno on a Pista GP RR and originally produced on an AGV X-Vent, involve a large sun at the front with a stylized version of Valentino's face, with orange rays on a yellow background.
2005 was the year that Yamaha celebrated its 50th anniversary, deciding to have its riders wear special graphics for two different grands prix. At Laguna Seca, Valentino’s bike, suit and helmet turned yellow and black. It was the perfect opportunity to recall the legendary colors of American racing Yamahas in the 1970s.
During the 2005 season, Vale’s helmet was the AGV Ti-Tech, introduced in 2003 and worn by the champion until the end of 2007, then replaced by the GP-Tech. Today, Niccolò Antonelli and his Pista GP RR bring those magic years to life again.
The graphics brought to the track by Celestino Vietti are inspired by the famous Dash logo and dedicated to the incredible 2004-season victory, the first in MotoGP™ with the Yamaha M1 and his sixth world championship.
This special version of AGV Ti-Tech was used only during the winter tests, never in a race. It was a tribute to the energy with which Valentino had won that world championship against all odds, and to the spirit with which he had entered the homes (and hearts) of fans, just like the famous detergent brand.
2008 was the year of Valentino’s rebirth, arriving after a difficult two-year period punctuated by problems, and is remembered by his brother Luca Marini. The 5 Continents graphics replaced the Soleluna and totally changed the layout on the champion’s AGV helmets, now graphics with complexity to be admired from every angle, rather than the two separate sun and moon sides. The 5 Continents, originally an AGV GP-Tech, was a helmet accompanied by success, earning the Doctor the 2008 and 2009 MotoGP™ titles.
The Soleluna graphics for the 2018-19-20 period mark a distinct turning point with respect to the previous graphics. They take on a more understated style, inspired by the simple, geometric shapes of the 1970s. The sun is back on the right side of the helmet and the moon on the left, yellow silhouettes on a midnight blue background.
AGV remains as the canvas, Alberto Surra’s helmet in this case. Specifically, that means the carbon fiber of the Pista GP RR, the pinnacle of evolution in the AGV racing helmet.
Marco Bezzecchi brings back the 2005 Soleluna graphics, characterized by the cartoon-style silhouettes of the sun and moon on both sides of the shell. These many colors and unmistakable shapes have alternated over the years with simpler graphics. Worn from 2003 to 2005, the helmet at the time was an AGV Ti-Tech, with a composite fiber shell, aramid and carbon, and titanium air vents.
Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia takes to the track with another example of the most iconic graphics worn by Valentino, on the track for a single lap of honor and never in a race. In 2004 in Australia, Vale secured his sixth world title, which went down in history for coming after a championship in which Valentino wasn’t a favorite due to his change of team. It was an extraordinary season, celebrated with an AGV Ti-Tech featuring the number 46 on an all-white background and a simple text, “CHE SPETTACOLO” (What a Show) – because it really was.
The unforgettable first Soleluna graphics return to racing after more than twenty years, this time with Stefano Manzi. These are the graphics Valentino wore when he made his full-time world championship debut, used with minor variations from 1996 to 2000. It’s a tribute to Vale’s first wins in 1996, his first ever at Brno that year. The original helmet was an AGV Q3 Pro, a model produced since the early 1990s then replaced by the X-Vent in 1998.
Nine Valentino-trained riders and nine tribute graphics. The VR46 Riders Academy riders pay tribute to their mentor, one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, all taking to the track with replicas of his legendary helmets.
These unforgettable, era-defining items bear graphics and elements that have distinguished Valentino Rossi throughout his career, going down in history, and not only motorcycling history.