We reported last week that Valentino Rossi would be driving for BMW M Team WRT in an M4 GT3 in 2023, but we found out this week that the relationship with BMW M Motorsport now goes deeper than that, as Rossi was announced as a new works driver.
The nine-time motorcycle world champion switched to car racing after retiring from motorcycles after the 2021 season and was a member of the WRT team when they were racing with Audi in 2022. As a motorcycle racer, Rossi had success in many different categories as he moved up the ladder. He won the 125-cc world championship in 1997 and the 250-cc title in 1999, then went on to win the 500-cc class title in 2000. That category was replaced by MotoGP in 2001, and he won that championship six times between 2001 and 2009, all on a Yamaha.
Rossi wasn’t completely new to car racing when he made the switch for 2022. He drove in a few different rallies over the years and in 2019 competed in an endurance race in Abu Dhabi. With WRT last season, he competed in the GT World Challenge Europe championship behind the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3.
Rossi will compete in GT World Challenge Europe again with BMW M Team WRT in 2023, as well as the Bathurst 12 Hour in February. We can also expect to see him in other endurance races in 2023. “I am very proud to become an official BMW M works driver and it is a great opportunity,” said Rossi. “Last year I started racing seriously in cars and I finished my first season with the WRT team with, whom I got on very well, and I am very happy that the WRT team chose BMW M Motorsport as a new partner. I have already had a chance to test the BMW M4 GT3 twice and the feeling with the car is very good. I think we could be competitive next season. I still have a lot to learn and improve, but I hope to be up to the task and fast enough to fight during the race weekends.”—David Haueter
[Photos by SRO, BMW]