Valentino Rossi had plenty of reasons to smile in Spain on Sunday as his third-place finish in the Andalucia MotoGP capped off a day when his academy graduates also made the podium, even if their celebrations could benefit from being less clumsy.
Rossi, 41, helped Yamaha to a podium lockout in the second race of the season behind Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales.
It was the seven-time elite class world champion's first taste of post-race champagne since Australia last year.
However, the veteran Italian derived as much pleasure from seeing Luca Marini -- his half-brother -- and Marco Bezzechi take second and third in Moto 2.
In Moto 3, another graduate Celestino Vietti was third.
All three riders race for Rossi's own team -- Sky Racing VR46 in the two feeder series.
"I'm so proud of my guys because we have a great relationship. They never give up and being with them makes me less old, or let's say, younger," said Rossi.
However, Vietti, 18, needs to work on his podium skills.
As he tried to uncork his champagne bottle, he cut his hand and needed 20 stitches."It's a disaster," lamented Rossi.
Marini, 22, and 21-year-old Bezzechi also caused Rossi to miss a heartbeat or two despite their second and third-place finishes.
After congratulating each other as they crossed the finish line, they lost concentration and both ended up in the gravel.
"When I saw my two motorcycles in the gravel, I said to myself 'this can't be happening'," explained Rossi."I saw my brother afterwards in parc-ferme and I told him 'no more nonsense, that's enough'."
Rossi too enjoyed a flamboyant celebration of his first podium place since April, 2019.
He climbed onto a barrier and punched the air in a victory dance in front of a grandstand completely empty due to Covid-19 restrictions.
On a normal race day, Jerez would be crammed with 125,000 fans.
It was "almost like a victory", said Rossi. "It's for everyone who had to stay at home."