RideFast Magazine June 2019


SA's best motorcycle magazine

lighting for night riding and an optional loop that

leads off up the hill. In typical Rossi fashion, the

Ranch is stylish but also simple, consisting of the

track with a building that is little more than a barn

which is used as a pit complex.

Every Saturday that they are not racing, the

VR46 Academy meets here on motocross bikes

that have been modified and styled for flat track

use. The benefits of this are that it teaches excellent

motorcycle control, with the riders having to control

slides on both the rear and the front end, with relative

safety as flat track riding offers less risk of injury than

motocross, enduro or motard. They ride, they race

and then settle down afterwards for a barbecue.

The Ranch is the most famous of the VR46

Academy’s training techniques, but they also train

on go-cart tracks with mini-motos, at full-sized

tracks like Misano and Mugello with Yamaha R1Ms

or contract equivalents and, of course, at the gym.

During all of these activities, Rossi assumes an

active role, taking part in the races but also giving

advice, tips and motivation to the riders. Even on

MotoGP weekends, he often takes his racers for a

track walk on the Thursday before.

He is affectionally known as “The boss” to the

academy riders who often make comments about

him being a friend to them. While there is much on

the way of physical training, there is also a huge

social aspect with riders talking about everything,

including girls.

Aspects of the academy go beyond riding aid,

and into the bits between riding. These riders are

all Italian and grew up speaking Italian, making it

difficult for them to talk to sponsors, the media and

participate in promotions. To help, they are treated to

English lessons inside the VR46 offices near Tavullia.

The VR46 Academy is an honour for those who

are chosen. Their riding improves, their attitude

improves, and they are readily snapped up by the

competitive teams who know the advantage they

have. It’s a benefit to Rossi himself, who not only

gets to share his passion with the future of Italian

racing but also finds that he is pushed further also.

He is not training on his own but is being always

motivated by the hungry youngsters he is training. It

is something, no doubt, that is crucial to his current

competitiveness, even at the tender racing age of

40 years old.

More so, Italian racing has been saved. From a

sport that was becoming increasingly dominated

by Spanish riders, we now see a massive influx of

Italian talent ruining the Siberian winning monopoly.

Pundits have even predicted that we could soon

be in for a complete turn-around in the sport with

the melodious Il Canto degli Italiani being played at

every podium ceremony.

Never before have we seen such a resurgence

in the racing scene, and it is all down to one man –

Valentino Rossi. Racing, like all sports, is dependent

on talent but this talent is often wasted when not

nurtured, given support and given encouragement.

There is no better proof of this than the VR46

Academy and its impact on its riders.

Rossi changed the entire landscape

of MotoGP, and now he has singlehandedly

saved Italian racing.


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