MotoGP: Valentino Rossi joins Team WRT Audi for GT World Challenge Europe campaign
Valentino Rossi has signed his first car racing contract following his decision to retire from MotoGP at the end of last season.
The nine-time world champion has signed a deal with leading Audi squad Team WRT for the upcoming Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe season. Rossi tested with the Belgian team at Valencia in December.
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Rossi will take part in all 10 events, including Sprint and Endurance races. The Italian will take on the 24 Hours of Spa, and make home appearances at Imola and Misano. The move will also see him return to the UK on April 30 – May 1, with round two of the season taking place at Brands Hatch.
“I am delighted to join Team WRT for a full Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS programme,” Rossi said. “Everybody knows that I have always been a great car racing fan and that I have always been interested in 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 a 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 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS with them.”
Rossi has competed in the series before, contesting Endurance races at Monza and the Nürburgring during the 2012 season. The former Yamaha rider is joining one of the most successful teams on the grid, with Team WRT taking 28 overall teams’ and drivers’ titles since 2011, including five from a possible six last season.
“I am sure that a lot of fans will be as pleased as we are that Rossi is starting a new career on four wheels and that he is doing it in GT, with Team WRT and Audi,” WRT Team Principal Vincent Vosse added. “We all know what a great motorbike champion and sports figure Vale is, but most of all, he is a true racer and a very professional and competitive sportsman, eager to be as successful as possible in the new challenge he has decided to embrace.
“This is exactly why we really wanted to work with him. The test we made at Valencia was extremely positive for both parties, in terms of technical feedback and working approach, and we took things from there. We warmly welcome Vale in the WRT family, and I am sure that we are off to a very exciting experience for both.”
Rossi will run his iconic number 46 on his new Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II racing car, and will make his testing debut at Circuit Paul Ricard on March 7-8.
The Endurance Cup season kicks off at Imola (April 1-3), while the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at Brands Hatch on April 30 – May 1.