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Valentino Rossi just misses podium on WEC debut as returns to international racing stage

World Endurance Championship

Nine-time Grand Prix World Champion Valentino Rossi just missed out on a podium on his return to the World Championship racing stage following an eye-catching World Endurance Championship debut in Qatar.

The MotoGP legend - who retired from two-wheel competition at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season - is embarking on the next stage of his newfound four-wheel career in sportscar racing by dovetailing his commitments in the GT World Challenge with a first campaign in the prestigious WEC series.

Driving a Team WRT BMW M4 in the new LMGT3 class introduced for 2024, Rossi teamed up with Maxime Martin - who he races with his the GT World Challenge - and Ahmed Al Harthy in the season-opening Qatar 1812km at the Lusail International Circuit, the trio going on to finish fourth in their class.


“It was my debut so I was quite excited,” he said. “I feel good, especially in the first stint I was fast and had a good pace, and I feel good with the car. 

“In the second stint, it was more difficult because the track is very different to yesterday because of a lot of rubber, a lot of grip, so you stress a bit more the tyres.

“So the second stint was tricky, I had a bit of traffic and  the condition of the track is an evolution if you go a bit out of line. But I enjoy it.

“For me, it is an evolution from last year, it is a World Championship and I am very proud to be with BMW, the factory team. 

“It is different, mainly to control the Hyper drivers, they come in very fast, but it is a great pleasure to share the track with these drivers.”

As well as representing his first official FIA/FIM World Championship status race start since the 2021 Valencia MotoGP, the event acts as a prelude towards Rossi’s eagerly anticipated first appearance at the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours in June, where he will bid to add one of motorsport’s most lucrative trophies to his vast collection.

While Rossi’s focus remains in the GT ranks, he is tipped to be promoted into BMW’s full-factory LMP1 line-up in 2025, giving the Italian a shot at overall glory in the round-the-clock classic.

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