The Tavullia ranch from which Rossi guards the pearls of motorcycling

The Tavullia ranch from which Rossi guards the pearls of motorcycling

The nine-time world champion is beginning to see the fruits of his pilot academy, created 14 years ago on a farm that his father bought. Morbidelli, Marini, Bezzecchi and Bagnaia appear in the World Cup

The Tavullia ranch from which Rossi guards the pearls of motorcycling

There will be no sweeter defeat for Valentino Rossi than that of the San Marino Grand Prix. Il Dottore stayed at the foot of the podium at home, which would have been his 200th, but saw the dream in which he has invested the last seven years come true. Franco Morbidelli achieved the first victory of his career in MotoGP and Pecco Bagnaia his first podium. Before, Luca Marini, his mother's half-brother, and Marco Bezzecchi had also been first and second in Moto2. There was not so much luck in the GP

by Emilia Romaña, but he did see Bezzechi repeat the podium and Celestino Vietti climb in Moto3. Although he left empty, Rossi had reasons to breastfeed: they are all students of the VR46 Academy. The future of Italian motorcycling is cooked in an old farmhouse in Tavullia, about 15 kilometers from Misano. Just over a decade ago, Valentino bought some land on the outskirts of his city to build a dirt track in the style of Kenny Roberts, a place of his own to train. On what was still Campo Rossi, Marco Simoncelli and Mattia Passini drew with motorcycles the route on which the great Italian promises are honed today. Thus was born El Rancho, Valentino Rossi headquarters and pilgrimage site for the yellow tide. Actually Rossi's most intimate project started sometime between 2006 and 2007, he doesn't remember well, when he started training with Simoncelli. Il Dottore found in him a little brother and an heir, the only one who could keep up with him in training, first in the famous stone quarry where he took his first steps and later in El Rancho. It was then that he began to feel the need to pass on his experience, to pass the witness on to those who would come after. It was a tragic turn for Rossi to be involved in the accident that cost him his life at the Malaysian GP in 2011. Shortly before the tragedy, Franco Morbidelli, a young man recently arrived from Rome, also participated in some of those Rossi and Simoncelli training sessions. . The boy pointed out ways and his family had sold everything to move to the Pesaro region, fertile land for pilots where his father had friends from his time as a modest professional. One of them was Graziano Rossi, Valentino's father. It was he who invited him for the first time to train at the quarry.

Humble origin

Morbido's trajectory deviates from the usual on the grid. «I do not come from the same world as the rest. I have come from series B “, he said after his first MotoGP podium in Brno. At the age of 14 he spent 10 months without competing because his family could not afford it. At the age in which the riders begin to appear at the Moto3 World Championship, he was hardly racing in the European Superstock 600, a minor category. In January 2013 his father committed suicide. I don't know where I found the strength to continue. That year my career changed, “he says.

When he learned of his father's death, Valentino promised that he would take care of him. Rossi found in Morbido an important part of what he had lost with Simoncelli, an enormous talent to guide the steps, and Morbido in him a protective wing. That same year, the Superstock 600 title would open the doors to race with Gresini in the last races of the Moto2 course.

«I am here above all thanks to Valentino, who believed in me when no one else believed. For me he is like an older brother ”, he recalled last month after his first MotoGP podium in Brno. Franco Morbidelli was the first student of the VR46 Academy.

Formally, the Valentino Rossi academy was born in 2013. It is not by chance that the project was born then. His time at Ducati had been a disaster, Simoncelli's death was still recent and Morbidelli gave him the opportunity to revive those ties. But also, with the appearance of Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, and later the tyranny of Marc Márquez, motorcycling had passed into Spanish hands. The rebirth began in the hands of Vale.

History finds its ways to join lines and in 2017 Morbidelli became the first Italian Moto2 champion since Simoncelli in 2008 (still as 250c.c.). The following year it was Pecco Bagnaia. And now his stepbrother Luca Marini leads the World Cup.

There are only three of the students from the academy, which this course also includes Marco Bezzecchi, Marini's rival for the Moto2 title (they both race with the SKY Racing Team by VR46), Andrea Migno, Celestino Vietti (members of the team of Moto3), Stefano Manzi and Niccolò Antonelli. A batch that, together with Enea Bastianini (the only great talent that did not pass through his hands), has revitalized the Italian accent on the grid.

As before in the quarry, Rossi is now beating the copper with the great promises of Italian motorcycling on a 2.5-kilometer dirt-track circuit. For him it is a way to stay young. What it means to them was well summed up in words, better summed up by Morbidelli. “Training with Valentino is as if a young footballer could play with Messi every day.”

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