The end is just the beginning.
The 2021 MotoGP season marks the 25th year of Valentino Rossi’s Grand Prix career. The 42-year-old racer has collected 115 wins, 199 podiums, and 9 world championships over that quarter-century. Aside from a few Mugello/Misano special edition helmets and some goofy winter liveries, the Soleluna (sun and moon) motif has decorated the Doctor’s lid throughout his career.
From the brash designs of the ‘90s to the refined iterations of today, Vale frequently updates the graphic to match the times. On March 25, 2021, Rossi unveiled his latest lid and the livery captures a novel message with familiar symbols. Luckily, legendary motorcycle apparel designer and frequent Rossi helmet collaborator Aldo Drudi helped us decipher the coded message in the Soleluna 2021 helmet.
"Initially Vale wanted to stay with his helmet, the one of the last two seasons, blue and yellow,” Drudi told Men On Wheels, “because actually we had arrived a little to the essence, to the maximum simplification to represent a crazy story and career"
Drudi is referring to the design the Doctor donned between the 2018 and 2020 MotoGP seasons. The helmet's simplistic graphic merged Yamaha team colors and Rossi’s iconic Vale Yellow. However, the decorated racer will move over to the Petronas Yamaha satellite team in 2021.
His newest helmet design commemorates the time he spent with Yamaha and his new team with a sunrise and sunset theme. The gradient on each side of the helmet represents the transition from dusk to dawn (and back again). Though many consider Vale in the twilight of his career, he sees the transition as a revitalizing new chapter.
Gallery: Valentino Rossi: AGV Soleluna 2021 Helmet
“Vale is very keen to symbols as well as symbology and if you rotate the helmet you will have night, sunrise, sunset, night, sunrise, sunset: the cycle that closes and is renewed at the same time," remarked Drudi. “And this is what Vale, and me too, really liked to mark this 2021”.
Over the years, Rossi’s pace has lagged behind the younger talent emerging in MotoGP. His last win occurred at the Dutch Grand Prix in 2017 and he only managed one podium finish in 2020. Despite the critics and father time, Rossi seems enlivened by the move to Petronas.
He joins his protégé Franco Morbidelli in the Petronas paddock and recently set his best ever lap time at the Losail circuit in Qatar. No, he isn’t the dominant force he once was, but that doesn’t mean the Doctor isn’t the biggest star in MotoGP. The AGV Soleluna 2021 captures that.
“The sun and the moon, when you look at them, you never see them in a perfectly defined way, with sharp lines, because they are sources of light, and therefore we have blurred the helmet,” concluded Drudi.