Location: Grand Prix of Italy (Gran Premio d’Italia Alice ), Mugello
Date: Sunday, June 3, 2007
Race position: 1st
Whenever Valentino Rossi races at Mugello it is always a special occasion, one that is usually marked by a special helmet design, and the 2007 Mugello MotoGP round was no different.
Valentino chose to literally wear his heart on his helmet in 2007. Designed by Aldo Drudi, this simple helmet design featured a big red heart positioned in top center of the helmet, so when Rossi’s head was down, the crowd would have the heart design facing them.
The choice of using a heart was significant on a number of levels – Rossi had been getting a hard time from the Italian press after losing his title to Nicky Hayden in 2006, and he was also being criticised for not winning enough races in 2007 to mount a serious challenge, and the heart was intended as a thank-you gesture to his passionate fans for not doubting him.
It was also intended as a riposte to the journalists in the press who had questioned whether his heart was still in the competition and the sport (there had been press speculation that Rossi still wanted a move to F1).
The race itself was explosive and full of drama. Rossi had a suspect start to the race and initially dropped to 8th place, before beginning one of his trademark fight-backs that saw him eventually battle to take first position and claim victory, becoming the first rider to take 6 consecutive wins at his home Grand Prix. The race was also significant at the time as it saw Rossi close the points gap to Casey Stoner, who was seemingly dominant in almost every race he started in on the Ducati.
During the presentations at the end of the race, Rossi threw this specially designed one off Mugello race helmet into the Italian crowd from the top step of the podium in acknowledgement of the tremendous support he receives at his home race.
Originally, only 3 of the heart helmets were made, and shortly after the race one of the Valentino Rossi Heart helmets was put up for auction by Dainese to raise money for the non-profit “Un sogno per il Gaslini Onlus” association (“A dream for Gaslini Children’s Hospital”). Valentino Rossi presented the helmet to the winning bidder in person, which saw the helmet go for almost 13,500 euros.
Image Gallery of the Valentino Rossi Heart Helmet – Mugello 2007
Valentino Rossi said:
“It’s hard to explain what I’m feeling right now. Winning is always an incredible feeling and if the race is as hard as this one was then it’s even better. I have to say thank you to everybody because both the tyres and the bike were great. I felt so good and this track is always special for me, that’s why this win says so much about me. Racing in front of all of these people backing you is great, you can feel the passion the supporters are giving you and this win is for them, all the people supporting me. We knew to win here we had to give it some heart, so we put it on the helmet we just needed to show it on the track.”
“To win in Mugello once again is an incredible emotion for me and I am very happy at this moment. Racing in front of the fans here is always something unbelievable and they give me an extra motivation. It’s an incredible feeling to see so much yellow around the track, the fans were ‘coming crazy’ today and it was a wonderful race! As we had hoped it stayed dry, the sun came out and everything went to plan! My team have worked brilliantly, my bike was perfect and I could ride it exactly how I wanted, I need to say a huge thank you to them and also to Michelin.
I didn’t get a very good start but once my tyres had warmed up my M1 really flew and I was able to fight back to the front. From the very beginning everyone was pushing at 100% and it was great fun in those first few laps! It was really a perfect race for me today and I felt like I had everyone on my side; Mugello is a magical track for me and this victory gives us a lot of power and confidence for the next races. I had a special helmet for this race with a big heart on it and today I think we showed that we really have a lot of heart at Yamaha. This is a great, great moment for me. “
“I had a special helmet for this race with a big heart on it and today I think we showed that we really have a lot of heart at Yamaha. This is a great, great moment for me.”