RIDER: Max Biaggi
THEN: Future four-time 250cc Grand Prix World Champion
NOW: Reigning World Superbike Champioin
"Until I was 18 years old, I played soccer. My father was a coach. In my family, everyone played. My best friend Daniele was in love with motorcycles, and one day I told him, 'I found a bike. It's the perfect color. It's clean. I'm going to Vallelunga to train.' He said, 'For what?'
"I didn't know anything about racing. My friend said, 'You need a bike, boots, gloves, helmet and leathers.' I couldn't afford to pay for all that, so I became a courier to save money for my leathers. After two months I took all the money to my father, and he said, 'Okay, I'll let you go because you've proved that you really want to do this. But you can only do it one time!'
"I was lucky when I went to the track that time, because a friend of my father's was there, a very old 125cc champion. He told me, 'You've got it. You're good! How many times have you been here?' I told him it was my first time and he said it was impossible. He stopped me to tell me about a few corners I got wrong, so I went out again. My lap time was 1.5 seconds quicker. He said to my father, 'This guy has to race!'
"Aprilia is the bike that changed my life. It was my first bike, and the one I became world champion on in 1994. And now it's happened one more time!"