One was born in Tavullia in 1979, the other in Oviedo two years later, both with the same obsession: speed. The first resolved his obsession on two wheels, the second on four. Valentino Rossi and Fernando Alonso have a lot in common and, no, we're not talking about the Spanish rider's current girlfriend, who was also once Valentino's.
The two have the same passion that burns in their veins, so much so that they don't care about their age or their results at a legendary level. Valentino and Fernando do their own thing, as fast as possible, aware that they have nothing more to prove, and they can be selfish by continuing to entertain their fans every Sunday and turning a blind eye to inevitable criticism.
Rossi won his last title in 2009, Alonso in 2006, but that hasn't stopped them. They continued to race, regardless of the difficulties and the new generations who wanted what had been their stage for the limelight: year after year, until they reached the 40-year threshold, a mental and social limit, perhaps just another milestone to reach. The Doctor has already done it, Fernando will do it, next year, when he'll be returning to race in Formula 1 after leaving it two years ago. Two splendid forty-year-olds, just like Moretti said to himself in "Caro Diario", but while riding a Vespa, with his helmet on his head, just like the two riders.
And it's the old difference between acting like a rider and being one. Undeniably, the two belong to the second category. Valentino has not given up on his career for some escapade with cars, between Formula 1 temptations, rallies, and the last round in Abu Dhabi. Alonso responded with the 24 Hours of Le Mans (won as the World Endurance Championship), the Indycar (where it didn't go as well), and even the Dakar. As long as there's speed, then they're good. So much so that, a few months ago, Fernando invited the Doctor to challenge him on the Sarthe circuit, just to close the circle. A fascinating hypothesis and something that's not so impossible in the future.
Meanwhile, each one is thinking about his own future, not worrying too much about the past that, for both (another coincidence), was in red, a color that did not bring them much luck. Alonso in Ferrari post-Schumacher, Rossi in Ducati to replace Stoner. Two stories that made fans dream of the announcement but which ended up being a nightmare. In 2011 and 2012, they even met at the presentation on the snow organized by their common sponsor: photos and smiles, but then things went wrong on the track. Valentino decided to go back to his old love, Yamaha, Alonso resisted a bit more (and with better results) before moving on to McLaren, but without being able to express himself at his usual levels.
But no retirement, even in years that would have destroyed riders without their blazons. They continued, fought, tried to show that talent cannot be bought on the market, and that it does not age. Or maybe it does, but when you have so much, there's always enough. Then there's the passion that, instead, seems to continue to grow. It feeds on every corner and looks for yet another goal, another checkered flag to ride under with fists raised and smiles under their visors.
Here they are, in their forties, with the desire of little boys, and maybe a few more worries, and the awareness that the laps are ending, but still eager to do ride them all. Until the end. Alonso has already decided: the Formula1 will be seeing him again. Rossi's waiting to start with this MotoGP season to then says he wants to continue. A year at least, maybe two, because carrying his weapons and baggage to another team is still a responsibility, so it might be worth drawing it out a bit more.
But without being the guest star of a film with other protagonists, no one likes that scenario. Even if he sees some gray hair in the mirror and wrinkles around his eyes, his spirit is always the same, with that unconsciousness of an adolescent who still tries to make himself heard, with a love for racing that makes his heart beat faster, and with a maturity that says not to worry too much about what others think.
A visor that closes, A light that goes off, and engine revs that soar. That's all that matters, at 40 like it does at 20. Another round for Rossi and Alonso. Gentlemen start your engines.