Valentino Rossi: Agostini still the greatest.

Valentino Rossi insisted that fellow motorcycle grand prix legend Giacomo Agostini is still the greatest, after becoming the only other rider to reach 100 grand prix victories at Assen on Saturday. 

    13 years after his very first victory in the 125cc class, Rossi took the hat-trick of pole position, fastest lap and race win with a perfect display in the Dutch TT, fittingly the only circuit that remains from the original 1949 grand prix world championship. 

    The 30-year-old Italian and his fan-club then joined forces on the slow-down lap to unroll a 25-metre banner which pictured every one of his 100 wins, spanning a grand prix career which began in 1996. 

    “This is a very emotional moment and for sure I will remember this 100th victory for the rest of my life,” smiled Rossi. “When I reached 70, 100 seemed a long way away but here I am and it has been great, great fun getting here. 

    “It is down to so many people, like Jeremy [Burgess] and my guys who have been with me for ten years and all of the team who always give 100% and always give me the best bike possible. 

    “Especially however I have to thank the friends who have been with me my whole life and my father Graziano, who won here in Assen 30 years ago when I was a baby, and my mother Stefania, because they have always supported me. 

    “It's great to reach this moment here at Assen because it's the 'Cathedral' of motorcycle racing and the most historic track we go to.” 

    Rossi has reached the 100 mark with 74 victories in the premier 500cc/MotoGP class, plus 14 250cc wins and 12 125cc victories. The reigning six time MotoGP world champion has already won more premier-class races than any other rider in history, but Agostini still holds the record for wins and world titles in all classes. 

    Ago won 122 races and 15 world titles as a 350 and 500cc rider during the '60s and 70s, including a record eight 500cc titles. 

    “Now I have 100 wins and I'm only the second rider to arrive at this number, but Agostini still has 22 more and for me he is still the greatest,” said Rossi. “100 is a great result but the atmosphere in our team is wonderful and the motivation is still as high as ever – we want to win a few more races together yet!”

    Unlike two weeks earlier in Catalunya, when Rossi beat Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo at the very final turn, The Doctor was able to break away early at Assen, eventually winning by over five seconds from Lorenzo. 

    “Today was a perfect race - I got a great start and my bike was incredible which meant that my pace was very strong,” recalled Rossi. “In fact I think it was better for everyone's hearts not to have another last-lap battle like in Barcelona! I had a good advantage from Lorenzo in some parts of the track and it was a great ride for me.”

    Saturday's victory was Rossi's 40th since joining Yamaha in 2004 and he has won more races for Yamaha than another manufacturer. Rossi rode for Aprilia in 125 and 250, then Honda from 2000-2003 in 500cc/MotoGP. 

    “100 victories speak for themselves!” said Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio. “For all of us in this team it's a huge honour and pleasure to work with Valentino because for sure he is one of the greatest in history, something he's shown again today. Furthermore, working with him is always great fun and we enjoy every weekend. 

    “This is a very important piece of history for Yamaha as well because 40 of these wins have been here with us, more than with any other manufacturer and the majority of his wins in this class,” he confirmed. 

    “When we started together in 2004 it was impossible to think of targets like this and I know that everyone involved and all of Yamaha's employees will always remember this time. I think I speak on behalf of everyone by saying thank you to Vale for these memories and thank you for joining Yamaha!” 

    Rossi, who began round seven equal on points with Lorenzo and Ducati's Casey Stoner, is now five clear of Lorenzo and nine in front of Stoner (third at Assen) heading into next weekend's US GP at Laguna Seca. 

Any copying and use the material without coordination with administration of the site is strictly forbidden.