Valentino Rossi like Doohan: Brembo's thumb brake master cylinder is needed post-injury


 To compensate for reduced limb function, Rossi used the technical solution that had been experimented on first by the Australian rider

​​This is just one more challenge that enriches the legend of Valentino Rossi in another chapter of his riding history: 23 days after he broke both the tibia and fibula on his right leg and the successful operation that followed, Rossi secured a spot in the front row at the Aragon GP and came in 5th in the race, having held second place for 11 laps.

A finish like this was unimaginable only a few days ago and was made possible through Rossi's incredible talent and through a specific braking solution Brembo made available to the Doctor to remedy the problem of having a right leg working at less than 100%.



Brembo supplied the Doctor with various components at Aragon, including carbon discs and Brembo calipers, as well as a Brembo-made special thumb brake master cylinder. This solution enables the rider to control the rear brake without using his right leg to operate a pedal. Instead, he simply relies on a small lever mounted under the left handlebar that is controlled by his thumb.

Valentino had already tested the Brembo thumb brake master cylinder after the Brno race. The configuration he tested was the “standard” version with a thumb master cylinder and a pedal connected to the same rear master cylinder. With this version it isn't possible to operate the rear brake with the thumb master cylinder and the pedal simultaneously, only one of the two can be used.

But after the injury, Valentino wanted a solution with two separate circuits in order to operate the thumb master cylinder and the pedal at the same time. The Brembo technicians made this change in record time with a new rear caliper that met Valentino's demands.



After all, Brembo knows Valentino really well having been at his side since his debut in the World Championship. In 22 years of activity, the Doctor has ridden with four manufacturers (Aprilia, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati) and three tire brands, but he has always been loyal to Brembo brakes.


Even though this technical solution was conceived of and built by Brembo 25 years ago, only recently has Rossi begun to use the thumb brake master cylinder. It was Mick Doohan who asked for it when he was the victim of a serious accident during test runs at the Dutch GP in 1992. Dutch doctors had operated on his right leg but there were complications during the night that put him at risk of amputation. The Australian made an urgent call to Dr. Claudio Costa, who loaded him on a stretcher and brought him to Italy. The founder of the Mobile Clinic managed to save Doohan's leg, however it never regained the strength it once had. Doohan was no longer able to operate the rear brake with the right pedal. He needed a control on the handlebar that could carry out this same function.

And this is how the thumb-controlled rear brake master cylinder came into being. As the months passed, Doohan developed increased sensitivity and went on to win five consecutive World Championships in the 500cc class from 1994 to 1998, every time with Brembo brakes.


The Brembo thumb master cylinder, like many other products Brembo offers those who want more from their brakes, can be purchased by any enthusiast who wants to try and go faster on the track.

Click here to see all of the Brembo solutions that originated on the track and are available for your motorcycle.

The seriousness of Valentino Rossi's injury does not compare with that of Doohan, but still Dr. Pascarella, who operated on Valentino in Ancona on September 1, recommended that he rest for at least 30 days. But Rossi's desire to ride his bike again got the better of both of them. He too has less than 100% strength in his right leg (temporarily). So to operate the rear brake he had to use the lever positioned under the left half handlebar more than he was used to.

The thumb master cylinder is by no means new to today's MotoGP. This solution has been adopted, with varying degrees of continuity, by Maverick Viñales with Yamaha, and by Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci with Ducati. The manner in which Brembo's thumb master cylinder is used changes only slightly from rider to rider since all of them rely on it to slow the bike down in overtaking and to balance the bike when accelerating in order to avoid skidding in the corners.



Practically speaking, the thumb master cylinder works like a kind of traction control: It is activated mid-corner in order to stay close to the tire traction point, straightening out the bike as quickly as possible. And on right-hand turns, riders with big feet find it easier to use in the peak lean angle because there is no risk of the right boot making contact with the asphalt.

Danilo Petrucci explains how the Brembo thumb master cylinder works in a video released by the Pramac Racing Team.



Judging by the results, Rossi must have established an excellent rapport with the Brembo thumb master cylinder over the weekend in Aragon. On the other hand, throughout the course of his 20-year career, number 46 has gotten used to changing his riding style to better integrate with the characteristics of the motorcycles he has had at disposition. This ability to adapt has allowed him to stay at the top of the class, earning nine World Championships and 115 GP race victories.