MotoGP: Impact of Valentino Rossi absence ‘more perceived than actual’

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi won seven MotoGP titles in a remarkable two-wheeler career

The impact of seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi’s absence from the series is “more perceived than actual,” according to International Race Teams’ Association (IRTA) CEO Mike Trimby.

The legendary and popular Italian retired from the sport at the end of the 2021 season.

“Everyone says Valentino is going, it’s going to kill the sport. That’s not true,” longtime race director and former racer Trimby said on the BBC Bikes Podcast.

“The effect of Valentino leaving is perceived rather than actual.

“We were less present in Italy, but that had nothing to do with Valentino, it had to do with the organizers pushing the prices up to double what they should have been.

“Others like Kenny Roberts, Barry Sheene, all the famous stars that we thought we couldn’t do without, they left and new stars came up.

“Some like Fabio [Qaurtararo, 2021 MotoGP champion] came out of nowhere to be a big star and MotoGP is almost the biggest sport in France now so new heroes will keep popping up and keeping the sport going.”

Trimby retired from racing in 1980 and became heavily involved in the 500cc Grand Prix paddock, helping to improve safety on the circuit and using his entrepreneurial skills to take the sport to a more professional platform.

After being identified as someone who might be able to improve standards and represent their interests, he was invited to a meeting of World 500c riders in 1982 and went on to highlight issues such as paddock safety, finance and television rights.

His commitment helped persuade race organizers Dorna to only stage races at circuits that meet high safety standards, introduce permanent passes and the first on-bike cameras, and generate increased revenue by buying TV rights from the FIM and thus arouse more interest from sponsors.

The number of fatalities and serious injuries in sport has also fallen dramatically compared to previous decades.

“It’s gratifying to see how racing has evolved to where it is today, the fact that we can put on such a fantastic show and not risk serious injury to the drivers,” said Trimby.

“The professionalism of the whole show, this presentation is extremely satisfying compared to the early days.

“A lot of new countries now want to have races so Dorna can be strict about safety and facilities and if they’re not happy we don’t go.”

Mike Trimby
Mike Trimby’s commitment has professionalized the sport

Trimby also stated that the sport “could collapse if the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had continued.”

“Dorna couldn’t go on not getting any money from the promoters. They have different sources of income, but if we lost the money that each organizer pays for the race, it would have hurt them and the teams.

“Some sponsors cut their sponsorships and some disappeared, but we haven’t lost a single team in that time.”

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