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Valentino Rossi at the Bathurst 12 Hour 2023

Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

A beautiful weekend in February, in the Australian summer. What better time to have an endurance race at Mount Panorama, Bathurst. A circuit that requires 100% concentration, as even the slightest error could lead to anything, from major time loss to even a major crash.

Valentino Rossi came into the weekend, having never driven the iconic circuit in the real world, and only driving his BMW competitively once, at the Dubai 24 Hours in January 2023. Which is why, when the MotoGP legend set the fastest time at Mount Panorama in Free Practice 2, it caught the attention of many.

Rossi was teamed up with Maxime Martin and Augusto Farfus for the weekend, and he will be teamed up with them both for the rest of this year, with the GT World Challenge Europe getting underway in April. Rossi and Martin had both tested the new BMW before this race, with Rossi taking part in the Dubai 24 Hours, where he managed to get a podium. That was his first podium in motorsport, since the 2020 Andalucian Grand Prix at Jerez, in MotoGP.

However, it was Augusto Farfus’ first time driving the new car, and as expected, there were a few mistakes here and there. Even still, it was a great all-round performance from the entire team. Where many expected Valentino Rossi to be one of the weaker links of the team, this was not the case. Valentino managed to keep pace with the front-running sister car, and those ahead in the Mercedes and Porsche. For a long time, it looked as though the BMW #46 WRT car might actually end up on the podium, but unfortunately, this didn’t quite pan out, due to pit stop errors and general pace. WRT had elected to bring both their cars in for pit stops, doing a “double-stack" as it's known in Formula 1. However, this meant that with the WRT #46 car being the second to enter the pits, it caused the car to be stationary for an extended period of time, thus impacting their race.

The #46 WRT had started P6 on the grid after a great qualifying result, and even beat out more experienced WRT drivers in the sister car, like Sheldon Van Der Linde. After battling their way through, they eventually found themselves in P2 on legitimate merit, but as safety cars came out, and the aforementioned pit stop blunders, it eventually put them a lap down, and disappointingly, out of the running for the top five.

The WRT #46 car eventually crossed the line to come home in P6, exactly where they had started on the grid. However, it must be said - Valentino Rossi had never driven the track itself before this weekend, and had also never driven with either teammate. Therefore, to end up battling the more experienced WRT team, and to still be able to maintain position and not lose anything, particularly in your first time at this circuit, one that requires so much focus and dedication - it’s not been a bad job at all from this side of the WRT garage, and Valentino should be very proud of what he was able to achieve.

Although, with the start of Rossi’s main 2023 campaign in just over a month, it is vitally important that he takes his experience from the Dubai 24 Hours and the Bathurst 12 Hours, and really makes sure that the team shines when it comes to the GT World Challenge Europe 2023.

But what do you think? Is Rossi, and the WRT #46 really starting to prove itself as a force that can get podiums? Let us know in the comments!

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1 comment

1 Comment

Feb 07, 2023

Hoping that they (team and Rossi) start to get some consistency in their setup, a stable driver line up where they can approach a race knowing the car and agenda for practice and qualifying.. minimise or eliminate mistakes both on track and strategically. Hoping Dubai and Bathurst has got some of those things out the way. If it has, podium placings and a successful season is absolutely possible.

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