Nine-time motorcycle World Champion Valentino Rossi is competing in the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, piloting the #46 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO2 alongside teammates Frederic Vervisch and, for the Endurance Cup events, Nico Müller. Rossi is competing in a full-season campaign after having retired from MotoGP at the end of 2021.
Brands Hatch, the setting for the opening two rounds of the 2022 Sprint Cup championship,, is a circuit that 43-year-old Italian motorcycle ace has never competed at.
Rossi met with representatives from the media, including EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd, on the Friday evening ahead of the first practice session on the iconic GP loop on Saturday April 30.
EGT editor Andy Lloyd asked Valentino Rossi where he had found the motivation to race at the highest level of GT3 racing after having spent his life competing on motorcycles.
“I have always had the idea to race cars from when I started the motorcycles,” said Rossi. “I like to drive GT3 cars a lot. The idea to race in GT3s helped me also to stop racing with the bike. All my life for 25 years there were 20 races in a season which means that you are constantly racing and also testing from January to November.
“For me to stop racing would have been very difficult, to stop from 100 to zero.
“But it is not just for that. It is because I enjoy it. I always tried to drive the car during the MotoGP season in the past because I wanted to improve my skills. I think this is a good championship but you have to work hard at it. You have a lot of meetings and tests but at the end, there are ten races.
“I think it is a good experience and I want to try to be competitive because you need something – you need to feel the adrenaline. You need to remain a driver, to remain on the track, to jump in the car and to wear the helmet because that is what I have done since I was five years old. I hope I can race cars for many seasons.”
Although this Rossi’s first season in GT3s, he is looking ahead and relishing the opportunity to compete at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, a race he regards as the world’s greatest GT3 contest. The Italian might also set his sights on Le Mans in seasons ahead.
“I want to be competitive with the good guys – to have the speed and drive the car at the maximum, to be as strong as them,” said Rossi. “Yes, Le Mans is an ambition but this year we race in Spa and that is the greatest race for the GT3 cars because you have 60 cars and all in the same class. Le Mans is another story with different cars and on the track and I’m very excited for Spa.
“Also because I have never driven at Spa. I have never been there and everybody says that it is a great track. After, also in the future, I would like to try Le Mans.”
Track action for the opening rounds of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup gets underway at Brands Hatch at 09:00 on Saturday April 30 with Free Practice. Qualifying begins at 15:50 later that afternoon with the lights going out for Race One at 11:25b on Sunday May 1.