Valentino Rossi’s legendary race number will never be used in MotoGP again…when he was previously not in favor of it
The number 46 will never be used in MotoGP again. The organization of the most famous motorsport class in the world has announced this. Rossi, who was a nine-time world champion and who retired at the end of last year, had said in the past that he was not in favor of making his number 46 unavailable.
In MotoGP, just like in Formula 1, riders are allowed to choose a number that they will compete in during their career. Rossi did that with the number 46. That’s how that number became part of the myth, because Rossi wore it while he dominated the sport. The Italian became world champion in the 125cc class in 1997 and in the 250cc class in 1999. In the 500cc class, later renamed MotoGP, he became world champion five years in a row (2001 to 2005). Two more titles were added in 2008 and 2009.
The career of the 43-year-old Rossi came to an end at the end of last year, but now the MotoGP wants to honor its most famous (former) rider. The Doctor will be honored in a special ceremony at the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks, with his race number 46 also officially retiring.
not in favor
The latter is remarkable, because that is a gesture that usually only occurs with pilots who die on the runway. For example, the number 69 of ex-world champion Nicky Hayden and number 58 of Marco Simoncelli have not been used since their deaths. Also noteworthy: Rossi indicated in an interview in 2016 that he was not in favor of having his number 46 retired permanently and that others should be able to use it if they wanted to.