Italy’s Valentino Rossi, one of the greatest motor cycle racers of all time, is bidding to win what could arguably be his greatest world championship ever.
As he goes into Sunday’s Czech Grand Prix in Brno, Rossi, now 36, leads the World MotoGP standings by nine points from Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo, with eight races to go.
Defending champion and Laureus Ambassador Marc Márquez is a further 47 points behind Lorenzo and needing a run of victories to make up ground.
Rossi, winner of nine world titles, including seven in the senior class, has 111 race victories, second only to Laureus World Sports Academy Member Giacomo Agostini, who won 122 times.
Agostini said: “Valentino has done great things. He was a great champion and he is showing that he still is a great champion.”
Victory this year would make Rossi a strong contender for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, for which he has been nominated no fewer than five times – in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Rossi is a two-time winner of Laureus Awards, being honoured with the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award in 2006 and the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award in 2011, when he defied doctors to return to racing just 41 days after breaking his leg.
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Mick Doohan, himself a five-times World 500cc Motor Cycle Champion, said at the time: “Valentino did not need to be back racing again so soon. He had already won seven world MotoGP titles and the 2010 title was out of reach. So to go out there to prove to himself and the world that he is still capable of winning races is a testament to why he is a great world champion.”