Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Apostolos Papageorgiou
If there’s one thing I could ask the Motorsport gods, it would be for my favourite person in Motorsport, Valentino Rossi - to drive at my favourite track in the world- Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Well, that’s exactly what we got, as Rossi competed in his first ever 24-Hour Endurance race at the historic, iconic and legendary Spa-Francorchamps.
Rossi has proved himself as, of course, an excellent rider in MotoGP, but there were some doubts that the Italian legend could transfer his incredible skills to Car Racing. He scored his first points in the GT World Challenge this year, at Brands Hatch, Britain. He has then gone on to score more points, like when Team WRT #46 finished in fifth place at the six hours of Le Castellet, picking up his first endurance racing points.
But, the 24 Hours of Spa is on a different level of difficulty, a different level of competition and on a different level of satisfying, to finish in.
Valentino Rossi, Frederic Vervisch and Nico Muller did an excellent job in the Spa 24, starting 35th, on a 66 car grid, and at various points throughout the first 12 hours, they actually looked set for a Top 8 finish, at one point even legitimately running in a podium position.
Sadly for Rossi and the team, a spin in the early hours of the morning ended up leaving them stranded and beached in the gravel. With the marshals unable to help, Rossi was trapped in the gravel for a couple of minutes, putting them a lap down. Nico Muller was then unable to avoid a fellow Audi, crashing into it, causing a lot of damage to Team WRT’s #46 Car.
Rossi got back in the car, to bring it home to finish a brilliant 17th place, after so many incidents, a poor qualifying - it appears that Valentino Rossi might be very much cut out for Endurance Racing.
You see, Rossi has taken a dip into Endurance Racing a few times, in 2019 he competed in the Gulf 12 Hours, and ended up finishing 3rd in their category. He would repeat this result the next year, in 2020 - with brother Luca Marini.
So, when you consider that the Italian has finished 3rd, 3rd, 5th, and now 17th (albeit with a much more competitive grid lineup and more cars on track) it certainly seems to me that Valentino Rossi is suited to this longer style of Endurance racing.
Now, I went to Brands Hatch earlier this year, and it was clear just by watching him that Rossi would take a while to adjust to GT racing, but he has adapted incredibly well in a relatively short period of time. It is only a matter of time until he ends up on a GT World Challenge podium.
Rossi has had an incredible season so far, with the Spa 24 Hours being a strong highlight, as Rossi, Vervisch and Muller legitimately dragged the car up from 35th, all the way to 3rd at one point, through genius strategy, Full Course Yellow’s and more. Unfortunately, the Spa 24 2022 might go down as a “what could have been” for Rossi and the crew, but that doesn’t mean his first 24 hour race is anything to laugh at.
We must remember, Rossi started his professional career as a Motorcycle rider and has transcended his own sport within one season - he’s already fighting at the sharp end of the grid in GT cars.
Therefore, if Valentino decides to continue with the GT World Challenge (which I think everyone hopes for!) then in my opinion, he will manage to get podiums and wins next season, making him arguably, the greatest person in Motorsport history. That is just my opinion though.
So, Valentino Rossi - what did you guys make of his first 24 hour race in Spa? Let me know in the comments!
If you’d like to give me any feedback - or just talk pure racing - then please leave a comment below, or you could get in contact by following my Instagram