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Valentino Rossi Impresses at the 2023 Paul Ricard 1000km

Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by Sean McKean

Credit: Kevin Pecks

Valentino Rossi came off the back of a super podium finish at Brands Hatch just a few weeks ago to the Paul Ricard 1000km. Last season in the Audi, Rossi, Vervisch and Muller managed to finish a brilliant fifth place in what was Rossi’s first major endurance race in his career on four wheels.

It was a weekend of “what could have been” unfortunately, as Rossi picked up a puncture on his qualifying run and was unable to set a properly competitive lap time, meaning that the WRT #46 squad qualified P20.

A jumbled pack made it fairly difficult for Rossi to make any real progress, as he opened the six hours for the team. For Rossi, it was mostly about surviving the opening hour or so, as we saw a safety car just minutes into the race, with multiple incidents and many crashes on the first lap.

Rossi managed to make several overtakes throughout his two-hour stint, climbing all the way from P20 to P14 by the time he came in to hand the car over to Augusto Farfus. An extraordinary effort for the Italian, who brought them right back into the race. It should also be noted that this is Rossi’s 2nd attempt at the Paul Ricard 1000km in the GT World Challenge, and there has been a very clear pace improvement over 2022 as well as his racecraft looking much more refined too.

Farfus would drive in the dying sunlight hours of the race, and as visibility got more difficult, the race got a little bit more interesting, with many spins and incidents, but luckily none for the WRT BMW #46 team.

Credit: Patrick Hecq

Farfus managed to get the car inside the top ten, and it became clear in an interview with Valentino Rossi himself that the team were simply aiming for a solid top ten finish.

Farfus would hand the car over to Maxime Martin, who managed to finish the race in a very strong eighth. Given the poor qualifying result, it was a pretty solid effort.

Rossi’s podium at Brands Hatch clearly has boosted his confidence, With him driving more comfortably and quicker, the difference in his personal driving since 2022 has come a long way.

Well, with the next GT World Challenge Europe event being the huge 24 Hours of Spa, Rossi fans will be hoping that this positive string of results and pace will carry into the biggest GT event of the season!

What did you make of Rossi and the #46’s performance? Let us know in the comments below!

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