Valentino Rossi completed his Ferrari GT racing debut, the MotoGP superstar competing in the Blancpain Endurance Series season opener at Monza. Rossi teammed with his friend and compatriot Allessio (aka Uccio) Salucci to campaign the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458. The Italian duo finished 18th overall and eighth in the Pro Am ranks.
Having qualified 10th out of 55 entries, Rossi and Salucci were running up in ninth during the three-hour event when a collision with a backmarker set them back. Despite the holdup, which dropped the team to mid-pack, Rossi was able to claw the number 46 Monster Energy-liveried Ferrari back to 18th overall at the Italian circuit.
Rossi has dipped his toe into four-wheeled racing on numerous occasions. A frequent rally car competitor, Rossi was linked to possible jump to Formula 1 in 2006. The MotoGP GOAT tested F1 for Ferrari before going on to ink an extension with Yamaha to stay in MotoGP – later earning his eighth and ninth world titles in 2008 and 2009.
The nine-time world champion’s latest foray into auto racing comes amidst controversy surrounding his hapless Ducati tenure in MotoGP. In 2011, his first season with Ducati, Rossi was held win-less for the first time in his Grand Prix career. After the 2012 MotoGP opener at Qatar, where he struggled in qualifying and finished 10th in the 22-lap race, Rossi vented his frustration openly to the Italian media.
The comments have led to much speculation on Rossi’s future plans – including one report in the Spanish media that he may try to wriggle out of his Ducati contract during the 2012 season. At the BES race at Monza Rossi, again speaking to the Italian media, denied he would leave Ducati mid-season.
Round 2 of the 2012 MotoGP series will take place in Jerez on April 29th.