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Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 18:30 UK

Rossi delights TT fans

By Richard Petrie

Valentino Rossi and John McGuinness
Valentino Rossi congratulates Monday's Superbike winner John McGuinness

It may be the world's greatest road race rather than MotoGP, but eight-time world champion Valentino Rossi was the man who took centre stage at the Isle of Man TT on Monday.

Other world circuit stars such as Colin Edwards, Carl Fogarty, Noriyuki Haga and even legendary American Freddie Spencer have visited the event in recent years, but none has attracted the attention and adulation afforded to the charismatic Italian.

Rossi is the one name in motorcycle racing that every sports fan recognises.

Therefore, the TT organisers were keen to parade the legendary 30-year-old before media and fans alike after he watched Monday's Superbike TT at Ago's Leap, in the company of compatriot Giacomo Agostini, a 10-times TT winner.

The iconic bike ace says he has always been a fan of the island races and wooed the assembled international press corps with his renowned humour and easy-going manner.

"I have seen the TT on television and on DVDs so I knew more or less what to expect but to witness it in real life is completely different," said Rossi.

"I have huge respect for the racers who ride this circuit flat out on a Superbike as it requires massive courage and concentration.

"It is dangerous and unbelievably fast and entirely different from the kind of track I am used to racing on.

"It's a great spectacle but difficult to learn in one lap so I would like to do five or six the next time I come over, not to race though!"

The winner of 98 Grands Prix races added that he particularly admired the exploits of record 26-time TT winner Joey Dunlop.

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi during his lap at the Isle of Man TT course on Monday

"Unfortunately I never knew Joey personally but I remember well that he was 'The King of the Mountain' and rode in that famous yellow helmet.

"I know all about his success on the Isle of Man and he was a real legend."

Earlier, the reigning MotoGP champion had been engulfed by eager photographers, all jostling for position as he took to the famous tarmac on Glencrutchery Road to take in a parade lap with Agostini.

The reception from the spectators reflected their respect and admiration for one of the all-time greats of racing - even if many of them are more accustomed to saluting the achievements of those who ply their trade between the hedges and stone walls.

Autograph hunters swarmed round Rossi like bees around a honey pot and programmes were waved by the tens of thousands of fans around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course as Rossi completed a lap of the circuit, periodically waving back enthusiastically.

Rossi fans, wearing yellow wigs and t-shirts bearing his trademark '46' greeted their hero on his return.

Those partaking of the event's hospitality had their turn too, receiving their hero without the reserve normally associated with the more corporate element of major sporting events.

History and nostalgia are very much part of the TT make-up, with classic machines and appearances by former riders the norm, but this occasion was very much about the present and the future.

The sight of a current world champion taking to the course which hosted the British round of the world series until 1976 evoked memories of the likes of Hailwood and Agostini.

However, it also symbolised a revival in the fortunes of an event which had been on the decline, marginalised from the mainstream of motorcycle sport.

A show of support from a living legend, regarded by many as the greatest motorcycle racer of all-time, is just another stage in the rehabilitation of the profile of the famous event.

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see also
Rossi rides Isle of Man TT course
08 Jun 09 |  Motorsport
McGuinness clinches 15th TT win
08 Jun 09 |  Motorsport
McGuinness dominates TT opener
08 Jun 09 |  Motorsport
A family affair
06 Jun 09 |  Motorsport
McCallen's view
04 Jun 09 |  Motorsport
Team talk
31 May 09 |  Motorsport
Farquhar handed TT Kawasaki ride
16 Feb 09 |  MotoGP

related internet links:
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Irish News McGuinness way out in front - 3 hrs ago Valentino Rossi enjoys Isle of Man TT visit. - 19 hrs ago
Belfast Telegraph Rossi falls in love with Isle of Man - 40 hrs ago
The Times Maverick Guy Martin ready for Isle of Man TT - 61 hrs ago
Sporting Life JOHNSON HAPPY FOR EXTRA TIME - 07 Jun 2009


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