By Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
Valentino Rossi makes most of opportunity to ride at Silverstone track - one of the races he missed last year
Ducati Marlboro Rider Valentino Rossi grabbed a golden opportunity to partake in a three-hour track test at Silverstone last week during the official opening of the new Silverstone Wing. Rossi joined with two-wheeled and four-wheeled racing greats including the only person to ever win both a Motorcycling World Championship and a Formula 1 World Championship, Sir John Surtees.
Rossi never got to ride the Silverstone circuit in race trim last season, when it was re-introduced to the MotoGP calendar, as he was recovering from a broken leg that he sustained at Mugello, Italy. So when Rossi was invited to attend the official opening of the new wing he and his Ducati team saw it as a great way to get some very valuable track time at the British circuit that has replaced the Donnington circuit for the British Grand Prix. Rossi was allowed to ride at the test because the track still counts as ‘new’ on the calendar.
Prevented from using his race-prepped Ducati GP11, Rossi and his team opted to run a Superbike Spec Ducati 1198 but the bike developed an electrical fault after just four laps. Not to be outdone, the Ducati team got a road-spec 1198 in replacement and Rossi completed a total of 30 laps at the circuit and then had some fun with Red Bull Formula 1 driver Mark Webber when they lapped the circuit in a Porsche GT2 RS.
Speaking about his first outing at the British track Rossi said he really enjoyed himself on the both the Superbike and the road-going 1198 saying, “I really had fun. After a few laps with the 1198 Superbike, we had a problem with the electronics and decided to use the 1198 street bike that Ducati’s UK affiliate rushed to us. I really liked riding that bike here.
“The track is nice—difficult and very technical. It makes you work hard because there are very fast sections where having the right trajectory is important, and others that are very narrow where you have to have good grip under acceleration. The first turn is completely blind, and you must hold a very precise line, and in general the entire first section is really great, definitely the part I like most,” said the seven times MotoGP World Champion.
Rossi also reflected on some of the great races that have taken place on both two and four wheels at the Silverstone circuit and happily added, “In short, I enjoyed it, especially because there were many drivers and riders who have great histories in motorsports, like John Surtees, who told me that he raced here in the ’50s. I wasn’t following racing then, but he was great.”