Valentino Rossi at the Ranch with Abe Jr: his father Norifumi was his idol

The very young Japanese driver was chosen for a driving course at the Tavullia Ranch. For fans it is a reference to the past, when his father Norifumi enchanted the audiences

Federico Mariani

Extraordinary overtaking and ruinous falls: Norifumi Abe quickly conquered the MotoGP audience with his way of racing without calculations, from all or nothing. The 1994 Japanese GP, his first 500cc race, ended with a crash after making legends like Mick Doohan and Kevin Schwantz pale. Among the fans of the Japanese rider, who passed away in 2007, there was also Valentino Rossi. The nine-time world champion has never hidden this preference and now he has taken the opportunity to invite the son of the childhood idol to Tavullia Maiki Abe’s Ranch.


The eighteen year old Japanese is one of the talents selected for the eleventh edition of the VR46 Master Camp in partnership with Yamaha. This is an intensive driving course held from 7 to 11 June, with driving sessions on the dirt road alternating with simulator tests. In this way, very young drivers are helped in view of entering the world of competitions. Growing up in Team Norick Yamaha, the team created by his father, Abe was thrilled with the new experience, as evidenced by his words reported by Todocircuito: “This is my first time in Europe, and I think the level of the riders here at the Master Camp is very high”. The teachings of illustrious masters are precious: “During my second day, driving with Marco Bezzecchi, I learned how to manage cornering. Franco Morbidelli is also very good as a teacher. I had a lot of fun with him ”.

the meeting with vale

The most touching moment was the meeting between Abe Junior and Rossi. A contact that took you back in time, when Valentino had just started his legend and was nicknamed “Rossifumi”. A nickname coined for the idol, winner of three GPs in his adventure in the World Championship, from 1994 to 2004. The Japanese was the only colleague to whom the nine-time world champion has ever asked for an autograph. When he won his eighth title, the Italian remembered the idol with a special helmet he wore at Motegi in 2008, twelve months after Norifumi’s death in an accident, aged just 32. “I was satisfied with what I learned and what I achieved – the words of Maiki Abe -, during the Master Camp I overcame the challenges and learned many new things, such as riding different types of bikes, racing on new circuits and riding with professional riders of the VR46 Academy. I will never forget the meeting with Valentino Rossi on the last evening. When I was in front of him I realized that he was the driver I always saw on TV: he didn’t seem real to me. Valentino understood his direction change technique, the perfect lean angle, the glide and his beautiful lines. “

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