Motorcycle racing legends Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi approached the same goals in ways that couldn’t have been more different, says long-time Australian MotoGP™ mechanic Alex Briggs on the latest episode of the In the Fast Lane podcast.
Briggs, who spent almost three decades working in the motorcycle world championship with Daryl Beattie, Doohan and Rossi, returned to his native Australia at the end of the 2020 MotoGP™ season, Rossi retiring at the end of the 2021 campaign after a career where he earned nine world championships and 115 Grand Prix wins, 89 in the premier class.
Rossi’s signature number 46 was retired in a special ceremony at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. Speaking on the Australian Grand Prix Corporation's official podcast, Briggs revealed how the two world champions he worked alongside were markedly different despite achieving similar success.
“Both were crazily determined to win, but very different people, different cultures,” Briggs said.
“Valentino, his biggest difference was that he raced his best when he was happy and laughing and having fun – still determined, but that was his outside demeanour. Valentino seemed to ride his best when he was happy and joking, and Mick was more like a fighter, a boxer – he liked to pump himself up, even if he was a bit angry he would ride well.
“Valentino, he would come into the garage knowing the garage was the quiet place, the place he could come and talk with people who weren’t trying to get a piece of him. Even on the grid … you could have that couple of seconds of a chat, a look, a word, we might joke about something stupid. Something really simple – I think he enjoyed that, because that was really where he wanted to be.”
Briggs, who now works for Michelin in the Australian Superbike Championship, said while he understood MotoGP™’s decision to acknowledge Rossi’s glittering 25-year career by retiring his number 46, he felt it robbed a potential MotoGP™ rider of the chance to pay tribute to one of the all-time greats.
“People might want to pay homage,” he said.
“I’ve come back to Australia and I see people racing with number 46 on their bike, they’re young kids who had pictures of Valentino on their walls. If that young kid goes all the way to racing in MotoGP and his number he’s had his whole life because of his idol he won’t be able to have … I guess I’m not a fan (of retiring the number).”
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