Location: Misano, Italy
Date: Sunday September 13th, 2015
Race Position: 5th
The Misano MotoGP of 2015 was a crazy race characterized by mayhem, mistakes, unpredictable weather, and a podium that that people would never have guessed.
But before we get to all that, lets look at the things that you can predict from a Misano MotoGP, and that is a new Valentino Rossi helmet design for the occasion will be revealed.
Valentino Rossi came to Misano, which is his real home race (his small home-town of Tavullia is just up the road from the circuit), off the back of a victory at the British MotoGP at Silverstone. Despite this confidence boost Rossi’s lead in the Championship had been reduced after wins from Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez in the 3 races preceding the British GP, so there was a lot at stake for the Misano MotoGP
Valentino chose to use his helmet design to draw attention to the pressure he was under at the top of the standings, which made him a target. His helmet design depicted Rossi as a cartoon fish, determined to escape a shark that was hunting him down.
Aldo Drudi designed the helmet, and it has since become a firm fan-favorite. Valentino was portrayed as a tiny yellow fish with the number 46 on its sides, concentrating on escaping a huge grinning shark positioned directly behind him.
Aldo Drudi, the designer said:
“Marine setting and cartoon style this time for Vale’s helmet. The little fish is Valentino, he’s not afraid but is doing his best to run away. The idea is to show a Valentino who is fully committed but under a lot of pressure”.
The words “Via, Via, Via!” are written on the sides of he helmet, which basically translates from the Italian as “Go, Go, Go!” (or “Get Away Get Away Get Away!”). The rear of the helmet features Valentino’s Bulldogs Cecilia and Cesare and his cat Rossano all pictured in diving masks and snorkels.
Valentino Rossi said:
“Because this is my home race, everybody wants to beat me, so the big shark on my helmet represents Jorge, Marc, the Ducatis. All these guys want to eat me because I’m the small fish, but I will try to escape, that’s the target!”
“The shark is not just Jorge. If so we’d put the shark with 99 and everything. The idea is because I won last year, so is my home grand prix and everybody want to hunt me, to eat me.
“I am the small fish in front trying to escape, trying to save, and the big shark is all my rivals—Jorge, Marc, Dani, and also the Ducatis — all the people that want to try and beat me tomorrow at my home grand prix. This is the idea.”
Image gallery of the Valentino Rossi Shark helmet from Misano 2015 (click to enlarge):
AGV, the brand that make Valentino’s AGV Pista GP helmet also weighed in on this popular helmet design and gave their account of the graphics chosen for the Misano MotoGP:
“The graphic design recalls the sea, a typical theme in the area around the circuit, which is situated near the Adriatic shore: a fish (yellow in color, wearing Valentino’s racing number and sporting a recognizable earring) is pursued by the rest of the MotoGP pack, symbolized by a giant shark.
“Obviously, Valentino has no intention of being caught in front of his home crowd, and reinforcing this message are the Italian words on the sides: ‘Via! Via! Via!’ (‘Get away! Get away! Get away!’). Meanwhile, the back of the helmet features Rossi’s No. 46, the No. 58 of his late friend Marco Simoncelli, and Valentino’s pets—dogs Cecilia and Cesare and cat Rossano. For this occasion, the animals are wearing diver’s masks and a snorkels.”
Despite Valentino stating that the shark in the helmet wasn’t supposed to represent Jorge Lorenzo specifically, most people still assumed it did, after all Lorenzo was the only rider who could really pose any threat to Valentino’s position at the top of the Championship.
Lorenzo wasn’t bothered, he seemed quite happy for people to assume that he was the shark and stated: “I don’t think I look especially like a shark, because my teeth are a little bit more flat. But for sure if I have to choose I prefer to be the shark than to be the fish. But anyway, the fish have more points, so maybe I would like to be the shark with the points of the fish.”
Lorenzo went on make the most of the Shark references and after wining the next race at Aragon he used his hand as a fin on top of his helmet following the race in parc ferme and said that he “Feels strong like a shark. There wasn’t any malice in it and it wasn’t an insult. I liked the idea of being cast as a shark. I’m still playing the role of the shark who is hunting down the yellow fish””
The aquatic theme for Rossi’s helmet turned out to be an appropriate metaphor for the Misano MotoGP as rain started to fall when the riders were on the start grid. Valentino started on the front row and struggled to maintain pace with Lorenzo on the opening laps.
During the second lap it was declared a wet race and riders were permitted to change bikes. Eventually the leading 3 riders (Lorenzo, Marquez, and Rossi) all changed bikes. As the race continued the track started to dry, but the leading three racers stayed out too long on their rapidly deteriorating wet tires. Marquez changed back to slicks first, followed by Lorenzo a lap later, but Rossi opted to stay out for longer, eventually changing with seven laps to go. More drama unfolded as Lorenzo crashed out, and Bradley Smith and Scott Redding who had changed to slick tires earlier than most other riders made full use of the advantage and ending up taking second place and third place respectively behind the race winner Marc Marquez. Rossi eventually finished in fifth place, but it was hardly a disaster as Lorenzo’s DNF meant that Rossi moved 23 points clear of Lorenzo at the top of the standings.
Image gallery from the 2015 Misano MotoGP