By Guillaume from SMT Performances | 16/08/2019
if you are wondering who is the only athlete in the world whose fans have been completely dedicated for almost 25 years, then the answer is simple: he is called Valentino Rossi.
With 9 world championship titles, the most famous motorcycle racer of all time has just competed in his 394th GP race in Austria… and it appears nothing can stop him, not even the fact that he turned 40 last year!
His track record, his personality, and his longevity have made him an unbelievable athlete that we can today describe as exceptional, as his fans’ enthusiasm over all these years shows.
We went to meet one of them, but not just any: Loïc C. possesses quite simply the largest personal collection dedicated to the Italian road racer inFrance!
With no less than 360 items including items of clothing, helmets, and other motorbikes collected during the course of the last 14 years, this fan explains to us how it all started, and why he’s not ready for it to come to an end!
Hello Loïc. Your collection is truly impressive! We imagine that it must have taken you years to gather as many products from the world of Valentino Rossi! Can you tell us how it all started?
Loïc: I don’t really know why, but when I say that it’s been 14 years that I’ve had a passion for Valentino Rossi, people very often think that it must run in the family; that it must have been passed on to me. Except that it’s not like that at all! My parents had no particular interest for motorcycle racing, or even for motorbikes in general incidentally! I on the other hand was the kid fascinated by anything that drove on two wheels… so I spent entire days looking for 1:12 scale motorbike models. And then one day in 2005, after looking through 5 or 6 shops comparing models, I came across a Valentino Rossi model on his Repsol Honda RC211V from 2002. It was love at first sight! The colours, the design, the look of the helmet, and how it all fitted together so well immediately stopped me in my tracks.
And that’s how you started your collection!
Honestly, at that point I wasn’t thinking of starting a collection at all! And yet this model was in fact the first dose of this drug which I have never gone without ever since… I can still remember it now; I went home with my model and I started to research this famous racer who had inspired me so much. Almost immediately, I had to know absolutely everything about him! I watched an unbelievable amount of videos about Rossi, and I read all the articles that I was able to find about him. And without me really realising it, little by little, my passion grew. I wasn’t always able to follow the motoGP races on TV, but I always found the results on the Internet!
Were you already riding a motorbike at the time?
Not at all! I waited until I was 21 to take my motorcyclist licence. It was in 2006, the year in which the new Yamaha R6 and R1 generations came out. So inevitably, once I had my licence in the bag, it was obvious: I needed the motorbike that was as close as possible to the one driven by Valentino Rossi in MotoGP!
OK, but that wasn’t necessarily the easiest or the cheapest motorbike to start off with!
It most certainly wasn’t! I held no less than 3 jobs at the same time to treat myself to the motorbike of my dreams! I worked in a restaurant during the lunch service, I gave out leaflets in the afternoon, and in the evenings I sold pizzas from inside a van! It wasn’t easy, but on 11th May 2007 I was able to finally achieve my dream, and as I needed to have the gear that went with it, I started to look for things which were made as a representation of Valentino Rossi. But I didn’t find a great deal at that time… I lived near to Grenoble, and there was a Dainese shop that I went to have a look in regularly, hoping I’d find what I was looking for there. And then one day, I came across a pair of Valentino Rossi Replica gloves! They were so beautiful… and so expensive (250€), but I absolutely had to have them, so I bought them without thinking about it too much! When I was paying, the sales assistant told me that I was lucky to find them in my size as there were only 5 pairs in Europe.
And so is that when you actually entered the world of collecting?
Exactly! Especially because a short while after that, the first AGV K3 ‘Replica Rossi’ helmets came out. It was great because it allowed me to have official merchandise at prices that were near enough affordable. I therefore quickly bought my first helmet, without knowing that it would be the first in a long series… I then subsequently purchased more new merchandise as time went by, and I also personalised certain items myself.
Yet your collection was not designed to be shown to the public. Can we say, therefore, that you’ve created your own museum?
Exactly! My passion sometimes leads me to meet other fans of Valentino Rossi who I love showing my collection to. But apart from that, I didn’t think of showing it to just anybody, especially considering that I still have quite a lot of work to do before it’s completed!
We suppose that there is actually one item that matters to you more than the others? Not necessarily the most rare, perhaps, but something which makes it stand out from the others?
It’s hard to say which one truly stands out, because for me even the smallest of goodies is like a nugget of gold! But if I really had to point one out, then I think it would be one of my hats that Valentino signed during the France GP of 2013. It’s a great souvenir.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue to support Valentino again and again, of course! And then try to purchase new items, especially for my collection of helmets, which has only just gone above thirty!
I’ve also got quite a crazy idea in mind! I have a room that is 60m2 that I’d like to split into two in order to have a kind of life-size replica of the Yamaha Racing booth on the left, and on the right a museum section with some beautiful display cabinets to showcase my collection better!
But all of that takes time and costs money, and as I’ve got 6 children it’s not always easy! By the way, the succession of the collection is guaranteed as the eldest are already fans of Rossi! We’d also like to build a mini Flat Track racetrack so that father and son can compete with each other!
A massive thank you, Loïc! But before we go, you’re going to have to take a risk and give us your predictions for the final podium of this year’s motoGP championship! Will Rossi be world champion?
Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be able to compete for the title this year, especially with the current level of performance of Yamaha’s riders, but I can certainly see him finishing in the Top 5 in the general standings! For the final podium, I personally would say Marquez, Dovi, and why not Quartararo or Rins for the third step!
A last word to round off?
Thank you, and… FORZA VALENTINO !!!!
Article published by Guillaume from SMT Performances on 16/08/2019
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