Racing history will be written at Lusail International Circuit (LIC) this month as Italian motorcycle racing legend Valentino Rossi swaps two wheels for four, making his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 2024’s first race, the ‘Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 km’.
Now entering its 12th year, WEC remains the world’s premier international sportscar championship with multiple cars racing simultaneously across two categories (Hypercar and LMGT3).
Paired with the globe’s premier racing drivers, it unleashes a high-octane, wheel-to-wheel spectacle for fans across eight exhilarating dates worldwide. The journey commences in Qatar, then ventures through Italy, Belgium, France, Brazil, USA, Japan, and concludes in Bahrain.
Iconic Italian driver Rossi, who attended the official WEC rookie test in Bahrain last year will drive the BMW M4 GT3 in the WEC’s all-new LMGT3 category for Belgian squad Team WRT, alongside teammates, Maxime Martin of Belgium and Ahmad al-Harthy of Oman.
Speaking in November about his foray into endurance racing, the 45-year-old said: “I am very excited to compete in the FIA WEC. It is the next step for me to participate in a world championship, not only in Europe but to race globally again.
“I am already familiar with the car after this season, but the format with three drivers from three different performance categories will be new for me. Overall, I believe we will be very well positioned.”
Familiar to MotoGP fans as the greatest motorcycle racer the world has ever seen, Rossi’s career is the stuff of legends, having won a total of nine Grand Prix championships in his career, with seven coming in MotoGP’s 500cc class (four with Yamaha and three with Honda). Famously nicknamed ‘The Doctor’ due to the cool and clinical way he sees off his opponents, Rossi is widely considered as one of the most entertaining riders of all time, hailed for his artistic ability to handle high speeds and dexterity on the corners that has earned him the title of G.O.A.T.
He has amassed the highest number of points in MotoGP history, a total of 6,357 over the course of his illustrious career with no other racer coming close to this feat.
Similarly, he has the highest number of podiums in history, finishing in the top three a whopping 235 times, 76 more times than his fellow countryman and veteran racer, Giacomo Agostini and he holds the record for the most premier class victories, with 89 to his name.
Rossi is also the only road racer to have competed in more than 400 Grand Prix.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that he was inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame after the conclusion of the 2021 season.
The father-of-one, who proudly wears the number ‘46’ on his back, may have retired from his 25-year long motorcycle racing career in 2021, but his love of racing has never been confined to motorcycles.
Over the course of the past two decades, Rossi has turned his talents to a range of open-wheel, sports, touring, rally and endurance racing championships including testing a Formula One Ferrari in 2006 at Valencia where he lined up alongside racing heavyweights Schumacher, Coulthard and Webber.
In 2022, he competed in the GT World Challenge Europe for Team WRT, driving an Audi R8 LMS in the endurance and sprint categories and last year he took the third podium driving a BMW M4 GT3 car in Dubai as part of the 24H Series.
Related Story