Rossi ‘one of the most significant’ announcements in Bathurst 12 Hour history

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi on his way to victory in the 2017 Dutch Grand Prix, his final MotoGP/premier class victory of 89 in total

The announcement of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi in the 2023 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has been hailed by Event Director Shane Rudzis.

Earlier this morning (AEDT), BMW M Motorsport named Rossi as one of six drivers of the two WRT-entered M4 GT3s for February’s first round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

It means that the seven-time MotoGP champion, who is arguably still one of the very biggest names in motorsport on two wheels or four, will race at Mount Panorama for the first time.

“Valentino Rossi is one of the biggest names in the world of motorsport and we’re proud that the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will be his first experience of Mount Panorama,” said Rudzis.

“Having had so much success here on two wheels, Valentino has an enormous Australian fanbase and we are prepared for a significant increase in attention as a result of his entry.

“It’s one of the most significant driver announcements in Bathurst 12 Hour history and we are thankful to BMW, WRT, Valentino and his team for making it happen – and we can’t wait to welcome him to Mount Panorama next February.”

Rossi first raced Down Under in October 1996 at Sydney Motorsport Park, in the 125cc class, when what was then known as Eastern Creek International Raceway hosted the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix for the last time.

He would win in the 250cc class at Phillip Island in 1998 and 1999, then in 500cc/MotoGP five times in a row from 2001 to 2005, and again in the premier class in 2014.

At Bathurst next February, ‘The Doctor’ will share an M4 emblazoned with his trademark #46 with factory drivers Maxime Martin and Augusto Farfus.

Rossi and Martin will then combine for each round of Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, with Farfus to join them for the Endurance Cup races.

Valentino Rossi has already tested a BMW M4 GT3 like that which he will race in the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour

Valentino Rossi has already tested a BMW M4 GT3 like that which he will race in the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour

“I am looking forward to the new challenge on my return to BMW M Motorsport,” said Martin.

“Working with BMW M Team WRT and Valentino Rossi will definitely be a fantastic experience.

“I am also delighted to share a car with my friend Augusto Farfus again, and hopefully to pick up some wins.”

WRT won the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2018 as an Audi squad but announced in August that it would be switching to the Bavarian marque to compete in the World Endurance Championship with the BMW M Hybrid V8 from 2024.

It remains active in the GT3 arena, however, and while the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour represents the official debut of BMW Team WRT, the Belgian squad will also field two cars in January’s 24H Dubai.

That will give WRT further experience with the M4 GT3, which Rossi has already tested at Barcelona-Catalunya following the conclusion of the 2022 GT World Challenge Europe season in October.

Its other Bathurst 12 Hour entry will be driven by Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts, and Sheldon van der Linde, with the event taking place on February 3-5.

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