Valentino Rossi has officially traded two wheels for four. On Thursday, the seven-time MotoGP champion announced he will race full-time in the GT World Challenge Europe for W Racing Team, driving an Audi R8 LMS with his iconic #46.
After ending his illustrious motorcycle racing career, Rossi tested with WRT at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia in December. The team noted in a following statement that it was conducted “with a view to evaluate future cooperation possibilities”, which of course was realised with Thursday’s announcement.
WRT, a twenty-eight-time drivers and teams champion, is coming off another strong campaign as the 2021 overall champion in both categories.
“I am delighted to join Team WRT for a full Fanatec GTWCE powered by AWS programme,” Rossi stated. “Everybody knows that I have always been a great car racing fan and that I have always been interested in a racing on four wheels once my MotoGP career would come to an end. Now I am completely available to devote myself to a car racing programme at high level and with the right professional approach. Team WRT is the perfect fit I was looking for and I am anxious to start this new adventure in the GTWCE with them.”
As a full-time driver, Rossi will compete in both the Endurance and Sprint Cups. Of the ten tracks that the series will visit, Rossi has won in MotoGP at Imola (twice), Paul Ricard (once), Misano (thrice), Valencia (twice), and Barcelona (ten times). Imola, Paul Ricard, and Barcelona are Endurance Cup dates.
“I am delighted to welcome Valentino Rossi to the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS grid for 2022,” stated Stéphane Ratel, head of sanctioning body SRO Motorsports Group. “Having followed his illustrious career in motorcycle racing for more than two decades, it is truly exciting to witness the start of this new chapter in GT machinery. To attract a competitor of Valentino’s stature is a tremendous vote of confidence for our championship and for GT racing in general. He will bring new energy to our paddock and I look forward to watching him on-track this season.”
Ahead of completing his sports car transition, Rossi was supposed to run the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi on 8 January, but had to withdraw due to being a close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.