Valentino Rossi will embark upon a new career in sports car racing this year, contesting the full Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season with Audi squad Team WRT.
The Italian, a nine-time MotoGP world champion, retired from motorcycle racing at the end of last year and immediately set his sights on a fresh challenge in four-wheeled competition. After a test with Team WRT at Valencia in December, Rossi has now finalized an agreement to contest the 10-round European series in one of the team’s Audi R8 LMS entries. Carrying the same No. 46 that he made famous in motorcycle racing, Rossi will contend for overall honors in both the Endurance Cup and the Sprint Cup alongside official Audi Sport drivers. The Sprint schedule includes a homecoming event for Rossi at Misano, July 1-3, while the Endurance Cup itinerary features another Italian round at Imola (April 1-3) as well as the series biggest event, the 24 Hours of Spa (July 28-31).
“I am delighted to join Team WRT for a full Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS program,” 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 program 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.”
WRT team principal Vincent Vosse said, “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. 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.”
Although 2022 represents a fresh start for Rossi, he is not a newcomer to the series having contested a pair of Endurance races at Monza and the Nurburgring during the 2012 season. The Endurance Cup season kicks off at Imola, while the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at Brands Hatch on April 30-May 1.