Youth versus experience has been a topic of discussion in just about every sport and is a perennial talking point. You often hear people say if they're good enough at a young age, stick them on the field and let them have a go.

In motorsport it's almost mandated that by the time you get to the top of your respective category you have to be either in your late teens or early 20s. Just have a look at Formula One where a number of drivers have only just made it into their 20s.

Some reckon that if you haven't made it by then you're too old. I'd say that motorsport, at the elite level, is probably the most ageist sport of them all. However, there is the odd exception. Just look at our very own Brendon Hartley, who at 28 has been signed to race for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

However, it's not Hartley who is the real exception to the rule. Its Italian MotoGP rider and former world champion Valentino Rossi who is the benchmark for hanging tough for decades.


At nearly 39 (birthday 13 February) Rossi has has the drive and passion to take on the rest of the world. The number of riders that have come and gone over his 23 years would fill a grid three times over.

Rossi isn't just making up the numbers, he's pretty much as competitive as he's always been. Sure, he's nowhere as dominate and all-conquering as he was when he won five world titles in a row in the early 2000s, but he still puts the frighteners up everyone else on the grid.

There are two reason he's still competitive. First he's bloody good at what he does, and second he loves his job with a fierce passion. I was lucky enough to have had a chat with Rossi at the Malaysian Grand Prix a few years ago and I asked him why he still does it.
With a smile that lit up his face he said he'd keep doing it as long as he enjoyed racing and the passion was still there. Talent can get you so far, but getting a massive kick out of what you do will keep you at the top.

Putting it simply, Rossi loves racing and has challenged his teammate Maverick Vinales on a number of occasions. If Yamaha give a bike that suits all his nuances, he's happy with it and he stays healthy he'll be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

You can rest assured though, if Rossi doesn't think he's competitive and fighting for podiums and race wins he'll walk away at the drop of a hat. The thing about Rossi is that he may not be as physically sharp as some of his competitors, but the bloke has race craft in spades. You can't buy that — you have to earn it.

He knows when to throw the kitchen sink at an outlandish passing move and when to sit back and watch the rider in front and pounce at their weak spots. So don't be surprised if you see Rossi on the podium a few more times this season.