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Matt Roberts' column

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport in Sepang

Valentino Rossi celebrates in Malaysia
Rossi is the only man to have won at least one Grand Prix in 14 successive seasons

Valentino Rossi may have joked that he was an 'old hen' at the ripe racing age of 30, but as far as Yamaha are concerned the mercurial Italian is still very much their golden goose.

His fourth MotoGP title for the Japanese team surpasses the three he won for their eternal rivals Honda, making him the most decorated rider in the factory's history.

He has now surpassed the world championship hat-tricks of Wayne Rainey in the early 1990s and Kenny Roberts just over a decade earlier.

Amid the title celebrations on Sunday evening, Yamaha managing director Lin Jarvis underlined their determination to extend Rossi's contract for as long as he plans to keep racing amid intensifying courtship from Ducati.

"I can't convince him to keep racing, that is a decision he will make himself, but if he does continue I will do everything I can to convince him his future is with us," said Jarvis.

His debut victory for Yamaha at the opening race of 2004 in South Africa made him the first and only rider in history to take back-to-back wins for different manufacturers

Rossi, who is planning to compete in the WRC Rally of Mexico next March, has a contract with Yamaha for 2010 but has already stated that he will not make any comment on his future beyond June.

So, with nine two-wheeled world championships under his belt following another season of bedazzlement as his inimitable skill, speed and showmanship, we're once again faced with the annual question: is Rossi the best of all time?

On the long flight back from Kuala Lumpur I reflected on his season and his career as I considered the pros and cons.

THE PROS

1. Rossi has now matched Mike Hailwood and Carlo Ubbiali with nine titles in all classes. Only the legendary Giacomo Agostini, with 15, has more.

2. Rossi's win in Assen this season made him only the second rider in history to take 100 wins in all classes. Rossi now has 103 - 19 less than Agostini's all-time record of 122.

3. He already held the all-time premier class victories record, having beaten Agostini's tally at Indianapolis in 2008, but he has now increased that tally to 77.

4. Rossi's win at Brno was his 160th podium in all classes - another all-time record. On Sunday he took that tally to 163.

5. With 44 wins from 102 races since joining Yamaha in 2004, Rossi is easily the factory's most successful rider of all time, with 21 more wins than Kenny Roberts.

Valentino Rossi celebrates winning at Donnington
The Rossi sense of humour was alive and well as a teenager in 1997

6. His win at Misano this year was his 11th win in all classes on Italian soil.

7. He is the only rider in history to have won at least one Grand Prix in 14 successive seasons.

8. In 1997, Rossi became the second youngest 125cc world champion after scoring 11 wins.

9. Two years later, he became the youngest 250cc world champion with nine wins.

10. In 2001, he joined Phil Read as one of only two riders to win the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc titles.

11. His debut victory for Yamaha at the opening race of 2004 in South Africa made him the first and only rider in history to take back-to-back wins for different manufacturers.

12. After winning the MotoGP world championship three times with Honda, Rossi became the only rider other than Eddie Lawson to win consecutive titles for different manufacturers when sealing it for Yamaha at the first attempt in 2004.

13. Rossi remains the only rider to win the premier-class title on four different types of motorcycle: a 500cc four-cylinder two-stroke (Honda), a 990cc five-cylinder four-stroke (Honda), a 990cc four-cylinder four-stroke (Yamaha) and a 800cc four-cylinder four-stroke (Yamaha).

14. Rossi has never missed a Grand Prix since his 125cc debut in 1996. That means he has started 226 successive races in all classes, 166 of which have been in the premier class. Both of these are records.

THE CONS

1. Frankly, who cares?



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see also
Cool Rossi crowned world champion
25 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Rossi clinches pole in Malaysia
24 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Stoner holds off Rossi in MotoGP
18 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Smith ready for Australian heat
15 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Steve Parrish's MotoGP column
14 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Stoner overhauls Rossi for pole
17 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Lorenzo wins to reduce Rossi lead
04 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
Matt Roberts' MotoGP column
16 Oct 09 |  MotoGP
MotoGP on the BBC
15 Mar 11 |  MotoGP


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