Valentino Rossi is widely considered as one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time. With nine World Championships – seven in the premier Motorcycle Grand Prix or MotoGP class – Rossi is the only road racer to have competed in more than 400 Grand Prix races. He has ridden with the number 46 his entire career, shunning the traditional Number 1 plate even when he’s the title defender.
Rossi won the World Championship in 2001, 2002 and 2003 with Honda and continued his winning streak by clinching the title in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 with Yamaha. After suffering a broken leg and handing the title to his teammate Jorge Lorenzo in 2010, Rossi left Yamaha to join Ducati for the 2011 season, much to the joy of Italian MotoGP fans who waited for the Italian champion to ride an Italian racing motorcycle.
For the 2011 Ducati racing team, Rossi partnered with 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden and replaced 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who went to Honda. With the powerful 2011 Desmosedici GP11 race bike, Ducati was confident of several race wins, and even of clinching the World Title, especially with two world champion riders on the saddle – the legendary Italian champion Rossi and “The Kentucky Kid” Hayden.
In November 9, 2010, Rossi tested the GP11 for the first time in Valencia, making his first appearance since 1999 on an Italian motorcycle. Rossi and the GP 11 started the 2011 racing season disappointingly – finishing 7th in Qatar, 5th in Spain, and 5th in Portugal. Rossi’s best result with the GP11 was 3rd in France. He finished 5th in Catalunya, 6th in Great Britain, 4th at the Dutch round, 6th in Italy, 9th in Germany, 6th in the United States, 6th in the Czech Republic, 10th at Indianapoli, 7th in San Marino, and 10th in Aragón.
Rossi and Ducati ended 2011 on a low – crashing out in Japan, sliding and retiring in Australia, colliding with Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia (where Simoncelli later fell and died), and retiring in Valencia. Rossi finished seventh in the championship with 139 points, 211 points behind champion Stoner. It was the first time in his Grand Prix career that he didn’t win a single race. In 2012, Rossi and Ducati went winless again. After his contract ended, he left Ducati and rejoined Yamaha in 2013.
With the high expectation of having an Italian rider (Rossi) on an Italian race bike (Ducati), Maisto made several scale models of the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in various sizes. We have two on our display shelf – a 1:18 scale model, which you can commonly find at most toy stores, and a large 1:10 scale that we found in Thailand while attending a motorcycle race. Despite being smaller, the 1:18 scale model is as detailed as the larger model.
As you’d expect, the 1:10 scale GP11, which is made in France, offers finer details than the 1:18 one, but again, the accuracy and fit-and-finish of both models is exquisite. Besides the large “Ducati” script on its flanks, both models prominently feature the sponsors’ logos in the various panels of the bike. The 1:10 scale model has a more detailed carbon-fiber front and rear fenders and it even has the “Bridgestone” brand painted on the side wall of its tires.
Looking closely at both models, you can almost feel lost that you’re in a MotoGP race track somewhere and you’re up close and personal with a real Ducati Desmosidici GP11. At the same time, you cannot help but feel sorry for Rossi, who was hoping to win his 10th World Championship title with a compatriot motorcycle maker. Alas, it was never meant to be.
Rossi is currently contracted to race with Yamaha until the end of the 2020 season, when he will be 41 years old. It is written in the Holy Bible that “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family”. We would just like to think that, just like a prophet, the Italian rider didn’t just fit with his hometown, the Italian team, like he did with the Japanese teams that gave him a winning bike to clinch the World Championship with. At least, Maisto made highly-detailed scale models of the GP11 for keepsake.
To see other stories of different Porsche scale model cars and the Vespa scooters that we have posted this week, please click “The Rack” button on the header bar near the top right of your screen (if you’re using a PC, laptop or tablet), or type “The Rack” on the Search bar if you’re using a mobile phone. Tomorrow, we’ll cross the English Channel to feature a British icon!