Every champion needs an opponent like him and, when it comes to Valentino, the first that comes to mind is Max Biaggi. A different style, character, two opposites that have attracted each other many times on the track, with memorable challenges and quarrels that, at times, have even gone beyond the curbs. Yet, they’re similar because of their passion, which led them to race well beyond 40 years of age.
On the day of the announcement of Rossi’s retirement, Biaggi wanted to honor his rival from the past.
“Sooner or later, this moment arrives. It’s something we can’t avoid, like we did as kids, at school, when we’d say we were sick on the day of a test,” Max smiled. “After many years, we have to face this decision. It’s the same for everyone.”
The hard part is knowing when that moment has come. Did the Doctor push his luck too long?
“You’re never ready. £ven Valentino said he wasn’t but, in the end, it’s a personal decision,” Biaggi said. “I’ve been there too, and the bad thing will be the lack of adrenaline, what you feel every weekend of a Grand Prix. It’s like a drug that’s hard to give up. But there’s also a positive aspect. You can do everything you couldn’t do before. Things you kept away from you, even exorcised. But he’ll retire after having done a lot for this sport, and the many victories will make it less bitter.”
Max also has a personal wish for Valentino.
"We’ve never pretended to be friends, neither on the track nor off,” he claimed. “The best thing that could happen to us, maybe in a few years, would be to get together to have a drink and a laugh.”