Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
MotoGP superstar Rossi makes last minute decision to compete in a Ferrari
While he got his 2012 MotoGP championship underway this weekend at Qatar, nine time World Motorcycle Champion Valentino Rossi has announced that he is to make another switch to four wheels, this time behind the wheel of a Ferrari to race in the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Series that takes place at Monza on 13-15 April.
No stranger to four wheel racing, Rossi originally began racing karts before switching to mini moto racing at a young age and has made numerous outings in private testing for the Ferrari F1 team and also taking part in Rally events. This latest outing sees Rossi competing for the Kessel Racing team in the VR46-Monster colors and he will be racing alongside his life-long friend Alessio ‘Uccio’ Salucci.
To race in partnership with my friend Uccio is a very big pleasure.
Racing with his number 46 on the Ferrari 458 Italia in the Pro-Am Cup class Rossi was very upbeat when asked about his decision to compete next weekend. "We really decided on the last minute to participate in the Blancpain Endurance Series event in Monza and to race in partnership with my friend Uccio is a very big pleasure,” Rossi said.
Stephane Ratel, Founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group, the promoters of the Blancpain Endurance Series, said he is delighted to welcome Rossi to Monza and to GT racing. “For many years I have been saying that from all of the world-class drivers and riders, the one I would most like to welcome in GT racing is Valentino Rossi.
“He is the ultimate motorsport hero and we must hope he will consider joining our championships on a more regular manner at some point in his outstanding career. At Monza, in a Ferrari, we could not have expected a better combination to make the event a success. Welcome Valentino,” Ratel added.
The first round of the 2012 season will feature an entry list of 60 prestigious sportscars from 11 brands – Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Dodge, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche. Rossi will be up against a host of famous names including Le Mans 24 Hour winner David Brabham, former Formula One stars Mark Blundell and Karl Wendlinger along with several sportscar and endurance specialists.
The event programme includes Pre-Qualifying on Friday, Qualifying on Saturday ahead of the three-hour Race starting at 14:15 local time on Sunday.