NINE-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi recently visited the Philippines to show his support to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda by raising funds for various charity efforts.
Rossi was in the country as part of Yamaha Motor Phils. (YMPH) “Champions Rebuild Lives,” a project that seeks to generate funds through the sale of limited-edition racing items that were donated by numerous teams in MotoGP. The project is a cooperation between Yamaha Motor Co., Yamaha Motor Racing, MotoGP and YMPH.
The Italian Rossi, who won four of his premier class world titles with Yamaha, in 2013 returned to the Japanese team after a two-year stint with Italian bike-maker Ducati. He is well known by his nickname “The Doctor.”
According to Rossi, he is eyeing to help victims of the typhoon through Yamaha’s project.
“Maybe we could make a small help and give hand to them,” Rossi said amid the cheers of the Filipino crowd that gathered at the event held in a shopping mall in Santa Rosa City, Laguna, about 50 kilometers south of Manila.
Rossi said Filipino fans are within the top five in terms of how they show their warmth to him.
“Near the podium,” he said as he waved to the fans.
He added that the passion for motorcycling is “growing” in the Philippines and that the Yamaha racing team “needs Filipino riders.”
Besides the fund-raising activity, the 36-year-old Rossi also launched the opening leg of the Yamaha GP 5 (YGP 5), a local bike-racing series. Joining him were YMPH President Toru Osugi, Sales General Manager Romeo Tan, Corporate Support/Corporate Services/Logistics General Manager Alfredo Lejano and Marketing Section Manager Ryan Camus.
To mark the series’ launch, Rossi donned his racing suit and rode his bike.
Regarding his upcoming season, Rossi said; “I am very proud to be back with Yamaha after two seasons without any positive results with Ducati. We are a very strong team. And for me, I will try to win more races and try to stay on top.”
Rossi had come in strongly at this season’s first MotoGP test sessions held in Sepang, Malaysia, setting the second-fastest time behind world champion Marc Marquez of Honda.
Asked if he would be retiring soon, Rossi said that he intends to do three more seasons before discussing with his girlfriend the possibility of starting a family.
Rossi followed in the footsteps of his father, Graziano Rossi, in motor racing. He started his career in 1996 with Aprilia in the 125cc category and won his first world championship a year after.