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Valentino Rossi Claims a PODIUM in GT World Challenge - Zandvoort

Written by Owen Bradley

Credit: Patrick Hecq


Rossi's GT World Challenge Zandvoort Weekend Results: Race 1: 3rd Position - PODIUM

Race 2: 7th Position


An absolutely Superb Saturday for the #46 WRT BMW Team of Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin, who managed to convert a P15 start on the grid, to a P3 Podium finish by the end of one hour.


Qualifying


Quali morning for the #46 Team didn't exactly go quite to plan, with Rossi doing all the qualifying laps in the 20-minute session, he struggled to find the pace and with a crash bringing out the Red Flag in the end of the session, it was to be a P15 start for Rossi and Martin.


Race 1


A chaotic race in Zandvoort, which had multiple collisions right from the off due to the mixed conditions of wet and dry. Cars were flying off the circuit, including the GT Champion and modern legend, Raffaele Marciello, who went off the circuit, costing him multiple positions and went right down into the pack.

Credit: Jules Benichou


Rossi started the race, battling for position and attempting to stay out of trouble. It must be mentioned, this is Rossi's first ever time in such conditions and simply staying on the track would have been enough. But it didn't stop there, with Rossi battling for position and flying around the outside of multiple cars at Turn 1, the sweeping right-hander.


Rossi managed to stay ahead, and actually pull away from Marciello on some laps, which was exceptional to watch, as the Verstappen .Com Ferrari continued to battle the leading Audi. Eventually, Rossi managed to battle his way through to P6, gaining nine positions in the first 30 minutes.


Maxime Martin would jump into the car and have the honours of finishing the race, but it wasn't going to be easy. Martin battled hard against the other cars, at one point almost three-wide alongside the #88 Mercedes, a Team and car which has dominated GTWCE over the last few years, and a fast, torque-focused Porsche car. Martin came out on top, diving down the inside of the #88, and later picking off the Porsche down the main straight, where the BMW car is so dominant.


Catching the leaders, unfortunately Martin would just about run out of laps, but finishing an absolutely exceptional P3 finish, after starting from P15! another Podium for Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin in 2023.

Credit: Kevin Pecks


Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin have taken podiums in 2023 at: Brands Hatch Race 2 - 2nd Place. Misano Race 2 - P1 Victory. And now, Zandvoort Race 1 - P3. It truly has been an absolutely wonderful season so far, but there is still ONE race remaining, Sunday's Zandvoort Sprint Race 2. As you might be able to see from their podium history, Race 2 is usually their strongest performing Race across the Sprint weekend, so there will be much to be excited for, for tomorrow.


Qualifying 2

Credit: Patrick Hecq


Q2 was one in tricky conditions, with the weather playing around and being undecisive all weekend, raining and hailing at one point, whilst then switching to dry and sunny weather. Maxime Martin would qualify the BMW under treacherous conditions, with a P3, a great result for the team, starting incredibly high up.


However, news broke later that the Top 2 cars had their laps deleted, and this gave Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin their first Pole Position of the season, and Rossi's first ever Pole in GT Racing. It was looking exceptional for the final race in the GT World Challenge Europe season.


Race 2

Credit: Patrick Hecq


Maxime Martin started the race in absolutely incredible fashion. He managed to hold P1 off the start, and eventually pulled away from the sister WRT BMW car behind, of Niklas Krutten and Calan Williams. He managed to pull out over a 3-second lead to everyone behind.


Eventually though, a Safety Car was deployed due to a few incidents on the circuit, at different corners. A Full Course Yellow was deployed and would stay out until the end of the Pit Window.


Rossi would jump into the car, taking over from Martin after Martin stayed out to get a gauge on the weather situation. The floodgates had opened earlier on in the race, where unfortunately Maxime Martin would run off the circuit at Turn 1, similar to what we saw in Formula One earlier this year at Zandvoort.


Rossi has never driven a GT Car in full wet weather conditions, and this was set to be a very tough challenge for the Italian legend. Wet weather at Zandvoort has caught out multiple veteran drivers this weekend, like Marciello in Race 1, and Martin himself in Race 2.


Rossi would unfortunately lose a few positions, and ran too wide going into Turn 7, losing a few places and a lot of time. These were conditions that didn't seem to suit the BMW car much, with the #32 WRT BMW struggling to catch the leading Audi.


Valentino Rossi would eventually manage to catch back up to the pack that overtook him when he made that mistake, but time had ran out by this point. He tried to make a daring move on Jordan Love, but unfortunately couldn't quite carry enough momentum coming out of Turn 11 to really level Jordan Love on the brakes into Turn 12.

Credit: Patrick Hecq


Rossi came home in Race 2, with a bittersweet P7.

It was a race that caught out multiple drivers with the wet weather. Had the race stayed in dry conditions, Valentino Rossi and Maxime Martin would have Won their second race of 2023 at Zandvoort, but the rain and hail just put a real dampener on what has been an absolutely positive and exceptional weekend for Rossi in particular, but the entire team at WRT as well.


GT World Challenge Europe 2023 is now over. One of the greatest seasons of motorsport I have ever watched, and one which will go down in the Rossi fanbase's history, as the season that he TRULY proved himself in GT Racing. Rossi's highlights this year, was his first ever podium in the GTWC at Brands Hatch, a race weekend where I managed to meet him, and he gave me a massive hug in the Parc Ferme after his podium. Rossi really proved himself at Misano though, taking his first ever GTWC victory and beating everyone convincingly, with a hugely impressive stint from Maxime Martin. Rossi took his final 2023 GTWC podium this weekend, at Zandvoort in Race 1.


Rossi had just finished his 2nd season in GT Racing, with 3 podiums in the GT World Challenge, including a Victory at Misano. However, he also managed to secure podiums at the Dubai 24 Hours, with a P3 finish in his first race with BMW. He also Won the Le Mans Cup earlier this year, on the road to Le Mans. Overall in GT Racing, that is 5 Podium finishes, 2 Victories against a highly competitive field of drivers.


It is currently unclear if Valentino Rossi will continue in the GTWC Sprint Cup, but surely another podium at Zandvoort, and his first Pole Position in Race 2, might persuade him to stay in 2024 and pick up some more podiums and hopefully, some more victories! Either way, wherever Valentino Rossi races in 2024, You can be sure to find all the updates and all the latest about his career, right here!


Thank You SRO and WRT!

Credit: Patrick Hecq Photography - Me (Left, with a lot of hair!) and a photo with Valentino Rossi! On the Grid, Pre-Race 2. Thank You, Patrick Hecq!


I want to thank SRO for Accrediting Me at the GT World Challenge Sprint at Brands Hatch. This gave me a great opportunity to meet Valentino Rossi, who has been a hero of mine since I was extremely young. I've covered every single race from Valentino Rossi's GT Career so far, and will continue to do so in 2024 and beyond! Thank you, SRO!


I also must thank Team WRT, who very kindly invited me into their Hospitality back at Brands Hatch, and also into the WRT Garage during Race 2 at Brands Hatch as well. Watching a race with Valentino Rossi looking at the same screen for about 30 minutes, before he then took a podium, is an incredible experience and one which I will never forget, and a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life! Thank you, Team WRT!


In the meantime, watch out for a Valentino Rossi 2023 GT Season Review article, coming soon!


That is it for the GT World Challenge in 2023, see you all next year in 2024 for what will certainly be, another incredible year!


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