Valentino Rossi Rides Better Than He Drives
From a press release issued by Michelin:
Rossi's WRC dream shattered
Valentino Rossi's debut in world class rallying only lasted a little over 17km: yesterday evening's short super-special plus the first 15km of the first true forest stage of the 2002 Rally of Great Britain.
On a tightening left-hand turn, the Italian turned in just wide of the line cleared by the first cars through. In the loose thrown up by the other competitors, the car went into a half-spin and slid slowly backwards off the edge of the corner. The car came to a halt with its front wheels still on the road but with the rear end down the 1 metre high bank.
Not all that many years ago, spectators would probably have jumped out from the trees to have the car back on the stage in seconds, the sort of banal incident that is instantly forgotten. In this case, however, there was no help in sight and Rossi had to run a couple of kilometres to muster up enough people to make a realistic attempt at manhandling his machine back onto the road...
"We tried to push the car back on the road ourselves," related co-driver Carlo Cassina, "but it was immediately clear that wouldn't work. So Valentino went running back up the stage looking for help, but there was no-one to be found. Then he ran a couple of kilometres in the other direction and eventually came back with ten spectators. That, unfortunately, still wasn't enough. When the stage was finished, a small van towed it clear in seconds and I was able to drive it back to service. It hasn't got a scratch!"
Grifone team-manager Nic Gullino said: "The car is totally undamaged… It's such a shame the whole adventure should end so soon and in this way. Not only for Valentino and Carlo, but also for the team and for all the spectators who turned out to see him. Let's hope he gets another chance soon to show what he can do at the wheel of a top rally car and how serious about the sport he truly is."