Written by Owen Bradley, Edited by William Stephens
Valentino Rossi is a name which I am sure most have heard of, so when we learned he would be driving at Brands Hatch for the first time in his career, 27,000 fans flocked to the track to watch the iconic Italian hero, with it being his second weekend in the Fanatec GT World Challenge, and his first weekend driving in the Sprint Cup.
With Rossi retiring from MotoGP at the end of 2021, it left a lot of fans utterly heartbroken, as the man we had watched for 26 years would be leaving the motorsport which he helped popularise in the 21st century. But he could never truly say goodbye to motorsports.
At the beginning of 2022, we got news that Rossi had signed a deal with Team WRT, a well experienced team in the GT Championships, and one which has proved competitive time and time again.
Rossi took to Imola at the beginning of April and he adapted exceptionally well, his lap times only 9 tenths off his teammates.
So, when we arrived at Brands Hatch, a lot of people kept a close eye on Rossi, who showed no signs of cracking under the pressure of being watched by 27,000 people at the track, which is a record attendance for Brands Hatch in 2022.
Rossi was nothing short of brilliant, with a highlight definitely being that he brought the car home to 8th place in race 2, and his first points of the championship.
Teammate Frederich Vervisch, who won at Brands Hatch in 2018, was lapping only 2 tenths faster than Rossi, who consistently built upon his pace, to secure important points for Team WRT. Vervisch himself has commented on Rossi’s rapid growth in the GT World Challenge, saying: “Vale is learning fast!”
Vervisch also commented that the pair are, “progressing well, and Vale is learning fast and making big steps.”
In conclusion, Valentino Rossi seems to be rapidly adapting to the GT World Challenge, already scoring his first points in just his second weekend in the sport. He also seems totally relaxed and doesn't appear to be cracking under the pressure whatsoever, which is something which he must have mastered during his 26-year stint in MotoGP.
With the GT World Challenge set to race at Magny-Cours on Sunday 15th May, fans will be paying very close attention to how he performs, and if he can carry his points-scoring momentum from Brands Hatch, into France, with a similarly narrow and twisty circuit, at Magny-Cours - which previously held 18 Formula 1 Grands Prix at the track.
Rossi will be hoping to maintain his drive (pun intended) as he has revealed he wants to continually run inside the top 10 in races.
GT World Challenge can be watched on YouTube for free (gtworld), with the upcoming Magny-Cours races streaming on YouTube:
Saturday - Race 1: 17:30 GMT
Sunday - Race 2: 13:00 GMT