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Max Biaggi on Valentino Rossi feud: “We were two idiots who waged war through the press!” | MotoGP

The legendary Rossi’s MotoGP career is littered with hostile relationships with fellow riders, but the first and arguably the nastiest was with Biaggi – a rivalry sparked by an argument in a restaurant.

At Suzuka in 1997 as Rossi was interviewed by a group of journalists, Biaggi uttered: “When you talk about me, first rinse your mouth!”

Twenty-six years later, Biaggi, 51, explained to Sky: “That time I had answered because he had said ‘better one day at Rossi’s than a hundred at Biaggi’s’. 

“In short, an action corresponds to a reaction. 

“From then on it was [an argument] especially for you journalists, although I admit that we helped you a bit! 

“But now I think we were two idiots who waged war against each other through the press instead of clarifying in person how we should have done.”

Biaggi won six world championships – four consecutively at 250cc, and two in World Superbikes. He is one of only two riders to own championships in both series.

He also finished as runner-up to Rossi twice, as the new star of MotoGP began to take over the sport.

Perhaps Biaggi might have won more if he didn’t leave Honda on bad terms to join Yamaha in 1999?

“I didn’t fight,” he says now. “Simply the then-head of HRC, Koji Shinozaki, had promised me that the following year, 1999, I would have a factory bike. 

“Then he told me that I had misunderstood, that I had misinterpreted his words. In short, he took [betrayed me]. 

“That night at Suzuka we had the ‘big-bang’ engine with regular bursts, while there was also the so-called ‘streamer’ which was more competitive and also had a better engine brake. Later he told me that mine was better and so on. 

“In short, it does not exist: so that time I valued the man over the pure rider. In my opinion it is not enough to be able to go to 300km/h or bend to 250, in life if you are a man, you are a man. I’m happy with that choice, I would do it again. 

“If you look at what I did and how I lived 25 years of a dream. And even now I’m physically well. I run, I ride, I ride, I ride a racing bike every now and then.”

His intense winning mind-set meant that Biaggi is only able to enjoy his immense accomplishments post-retirement.

“I never got to fully enjoy my victories, the moments,” he said. “I limited myself to 80-85% without ever letting myself go to the maximum, totally. 

“I was winning, but I was already thinking about what to do to win the next race. I was winning a title and I was already involved in the next championship. 

“Well, I should have let go a little more. But it was also a consequence of my doing everything alone without managers and similar help.”

He briefly ran a Moto3 team after retiring, and says: “In the four years of this activity we have won 8 races, at least one every season and with four different drivers. I am quite satisfied with this experience.”

Biaggi is the world-record holder for speed on an electric bike, clocking 470km/h: “To achieve this, we worked on it for a few years, albeit quietly, without saying it.

“It’s a feeling impossible to describe in words. At the beginning the numbers flow away very fast, then when you get to 445-450km/h they increase with an exasperating slowness until they touch that absurd speed, a meaningless, incredible thing.”

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