People often say that Valentino Rossi’s life unfolds like a Hollywood movie: from one unlikely scene to another, plenty of romance and a plot twist around every corner.
And now the next scene is unfolding before our very eyes: Rossi has retired from MotoGP but the team he created is now winning races, making headlines and dominating the paddock’s consciousness.
Marco Bezzecchi won the rain-soaked Argentine MotoGP race earlier this month, Rossi’s half-brother Luca Marini finished a close second in Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas and Bezzecchi leads the world championship, on a second-hand Ducati Desmosedici, ahead of another VR46 Academy rider, Pecco Bagnaia.
Only a fever-brained Hollywood scriptwriter would consider such a storyline – and then he’d bin it, sure that no one would believe it…
That’s always been the thing with Rossi: things fall into place, apparently driven by a kind of natural energy, but of course that’s not how things work in the real world.
Rossi’s success comes from a love of what he does and an obsession about getting everything 100% perfect, from applying the stickers to his own race bikes to setting up the best independent team in the paddock, with all the multitude of complexities that involves.
And there’s no one better to talk to about this than Uccio Salucci, childhood friend, right-hand man throughout Rossi’s grand prix career and now team director of the Mooney VR46 MotoGP team.
Oxley: The success you’re having with the VR46 team seems like another chapter of the Rossi story because whenever we think the story is coming to an end there’s always another chapter…
Salucci: Yes, we are like Highlander! (A science-fantasy action TV series that ran from 1992 to 1998, which Salucci and Rossi watched from their couches in Tavullia)
I am very happy about this, because when Vale (Valentino Rossi) stopped racing in MotoGP in 2021 we wanted to continue with his projects. Vale is here with two projects – one is the academy, the other is the team. Both are in a good moment because we have a lot of passion.
I put all my passion into the team and Carlo Casabianca put his into the academy. When I work on this project I always have the face of Vale looking over my shoulder, saying, “Please, Uccio, try 100%!”. This is a big motivation for me.
For sure, Valentino is the legend of this sport, so the academy and the team need to be at the same level as Valentino. To be at that level isn’t easy, but we try in a good way.
The weekend in Argentina was like a dream for us. When I called Vale after the race he was very happy, very emotional, because it was very big for him. When I got back to Italy I went to dinner with him and his face was like when he won a race! This was the first time I’d seen his face like this since he last won a race [in 2019]! He was like, “Uccio, f**k, we won in MotoGP, with our team!”. It had…
Read More: ‘Bellissimo!’: Rossi’s right-hand man reveals how VR46 team is ruling MotoGP 2023-04-18 11:57:57