Valentino Rossi’s helmet is adorned with the Nike Swoosh. There is also a black, yellow and orange azure pattern underneath, the universally recognized colors of MotoGP. This one is borrowed from Valentino, his father’s, race number. On Saturday evening, it all belonged to his father, when the great champion of sport, who died in June, took his final ride at the San Marino MotoGP as a guest of one of his close friends, MotoGP grandstand favourite Andrea Dovizioso. At 37, Rossi has been riding in the top class of motorcycle racing since he was just 11 years old. He remains the current champion. Dovizioso, his usual teammate, took Rossi’s place on the factory Yamaha, leading into the race. But at the finish line, Rossi conceded the championship to Dovizioso, who was joined on the podium by Dani Pedrosa of Spain. The two close friends, it would appear, crossed paths after riding off into the sunset together.
Dovizioso took the first trophy from his teammate, and then kissed it. “It’s as if we both forgot we were rivals,” he said. “It’s an emotion that we will share forever.”