When Valentino Rossi was winning his first World Championship in 2997 in the 125cc GP class, the hot young Italian GP rider at that time was Max Biaggi.
When the 18 year old Rossi was just getting popular because of his bubbly personality, post race antics, fierce competitiveness and talent on the bike, Biaggi was already a 3-time World Champion in the 250cc GP class with Aprilia.
The two were equally fast and talented with both creating epic momemts in racing. When Rossi won his first World Championship in 1997, he became the youngest World Champion that time. Meanwhile Biaggi swutched from Aprilia to Honda and win his 4th back-to-back World Championship.
Although they were still racing in different classes, the Italian media hyped their rivalry which the two riders brought with them when both raced in the premier 500cc GP class (now MotoGP) in 2000 for different manufacturers Honda and Yamaha.
Their rivalry probably elevated to the highest level in Suzuka, Japan 2001. Biaggi appeared to elbow Rossi off the track as they exited the last corner and Rossi went to the dirt. Later Rossi gave Biaggi the “middle finger” as he passed him into Turn 1, in full view of the camera for the world to see.
In Spain later that year, Rossi and Biaggi were involved in puching incident after the race just before going onto the podium. Biaggi’s sported a small cut on his face as he gave his interview.
When Rossi switched to Yamaha in 2004, it was Biaggi who took his place at Honda and whom he passed on the last lap for that emotional and historic first win for Yamaha.
At that time, their rivalry seemed to have stated to become respect as Biaggi raised Rossi hand on the cool down lap acknowledging his victory.
On his social media page yesterday, Biaggi wrote this very nice message for his once ” bitter’rival”.
After Biaggi, there were many more bitter rivals that came after in Rossi’s 26 year career. Gibernau, Stoner, Lorenzo and Marquez.
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