Doctor on Call: Valentino Rossi visits Manila
Valentino “ The Doctor” Rossi, nine-time motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion, jetted into Manila on February 23, 2014. Rossi’s arrival coincided with the start of the Yamaha one-make race, the Yamaha GP 5. More importantly, Rossi flew over to make an appeal to help the Lend a Hand Project, which is spearheaded by Yamaha Motor Company Ltd., Yamaha Motor Racing, MotoGP and Yamaha Motorcycle Philippines. Lend a Hand Project is helping victims of supertyphoon Yolanda.
Rossi took the stage at around 1:30pm local time amidst the cheers and chants of “Rossi! Rossi! Rossi!” by thousands of fans, some of whom gathered as early as 8am at SM City Santa Rosa. The ever-cordial Italian smiled for the media and the fans in attendance. He even gamely went around the stage to give fans his much-coveted autograph, and, as you would expect, a mad rush to the stage ensued.
After the autograph signing, Vale also took some questions from the floor and from select media outfits in attendance.
Asked to name his top three circuits in the MotoGP calendar, Rossi, without hesitation, named Mugello, Italy as his top pick (Rossi is Italian, after all), Barcelona as second and Sepang, Malaysia his third on the list. Also, he fancied his overtaking move at the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, and overtaking Jorge Lorenzo at the last corner in Barcelona (2009) as his favorite overtaking maneuvers.
In motorsport, one’s greatest competitor is usually one’s teammate. Asked on how he sees his fight with Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo for this year, Rossi said, “For me to have Lorenzo as a teamate is a great motivation, because now Lorenzo is one of the best two riders in the world. To try to beat him, to stay with him is a great motivation for me. Last year he arrived a lot of times in front of me so this year I have to be stronger and faster to fight with him.”
As the face for the Lend a Hand Project, Valentino hoped to raise money for the charity and give some items for the relief efforts. Unfortunately, due to his testing duties at Sepang, he was not able to fly over to Tacloban and see for himself the devastation brought about by Yolanda. However, he is keen on flying back and to help in any way he can.
Rossi then headed out to the mall parking lot to do a few laps around the Yamaha GP 5 track. Even if the sun was bearing down on the fans, they never wavered in their desire to see Valentino ride his Yamaha. Suited up in full racing leathers, Rossi rode around and the track to the delight of everyone.
The day ended with a dinner reception for local Yamaha dealers and Yamaha officials at the Marriot, and here, Yamaha unveiled the signed exclusive items for the charity drive. Rossi has now flown to Sepang. On this trip, he is bringing with him the gratitude of an entire country.
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