Location: Grand Prix of Japan, Suzuka, Japan
Date: Round 2, 1997
Race position: DNF
Valentino Rossi has a long history of producing a new helmet design at certain rounds and tracks. Much like his home round’s at Misano or Mugello, the Japanese Grand Prix is an event that Rossi has always had a special relationship with…..and a special, customised helmet for.
Rossi has a huge fan base in Japan and for a while he was even known for the nickname “Rossifumi”. The “Rossifumi” nickname was a tribute to Norifumi Abe, a rider that had a spectacular racing style that Rossi greatly admired. Sadly Norifumi Abe was killed in a road accident on October 7th 2007 when a truck pulled out in front of him. Rossi often featured a sticker on his helmet or his bike that was written in Japanese script that said “Go Rossifumi”.
In 1997 for the 125cc race, Rossi featured a tribute to Japan by wearing a variation of his usual Sun and Moon helmet. The usual emblems of the sun and the moon on Rossi’s helmet were pushed down to make room for a rising sun design that covered the crown of his helmet.
The helmet failed to bring Rossi much luck and he only managed to complete 2 laps before withdrawing from the race – it was his only DNF of the 1997 season.
Image Gallery of the AGV Suzuka 1997 Helmet: