Rivals or Frenemies?
Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi. Does these two names ring a bell? If it does, you are most likely an ardent MotoGP fan since the early 2000s.
Valentino Rossi (Image: Motorsport.com)
Max Biaggi (Image: Autoevolution)
These two Italians had been rivals even before racing each other, around the 1990s. Biaggi was the experienced racer while Rossi, at that time, was a young and budding racer striving to make his mark. When the duo finally competed against each other in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing, the tension intensified between them. Furthermore, Rossi and Biaggi was riding for Honda and Yamaha respectively. It was a fierce rivalry in MotoGP history as both of them had the end goal in mind – the championship trophy.
One of the most iconic incidents happened in Suzuka at the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix. Racing at approximately 150mph, Biaggi elbowed Rossi off the race track. A while later, Rossi retaliated by showing a middle finger, as a sign of his displeasure.
Sometime later during the year at the Catalunya Grand Prix, there was yet another altercation between the two of them which, as stated by a witness, saw Rossi punch Biaggi in the face. When the two Italians met at the podium, a scuffle ensued. Rossi was the champion while Biaggi was the first runner-up for that competition.
For the next few years, Rossi had been consecutively clinching world championships. On the other hand, Biaggi’s performance wasn’t up to par. Biaggi left MotoGP in 2005.
Fortunately, their rivalry began to die down gradually. Fast forward 6 years later to 2011, according to visordown, Biaggi mentioned the following publicly on Italian radio: ‘’I respect and appreciate Rossi, and he has never hidden his mutual respect for me. I can't deny that he is a legendary rider. Now we are both more mature and racing in two different series; we aren't kids anymore and we respect each other's work."
In 2012, then 41-year-old Max Biaggi announced his retirement from motorcycle racing. The four-time Grand Prix world champion quitted to spend more time with his family.
Interested to see more? MotoGP has complied a montage of MotoGP battles between Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi. Enjoy!