Rossi begins sportscar preparation with Gulf 12 Hours outing

Nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi will take on his third Gulf 12 Hours at the beginning of next year in a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo.

The MotoGP legend who retired from two-wheeled racing in November is set for his third Gulf 12 Hours at what will be the 10th edition of the endurance race.

Racing in the Pro/Am class, teammates Luca Marini and Alessio Salucci will join him in the Monster VR46 Kessel Racing entry.

He was victorious in Pro-Am at his 2019 debut and finished third overall.

The team’s second participation at the beginning of this year saw them finish second in-class and fourth in the wider classification.

It will be his first major professional motorsports outing on 8 January 2022 since his MotoGP departure as he pursues future commitments in sports car racing.

Kessel Racing will field two other 488 GT3s, the #8 Pro-Am and the #29 in the Am category.

Amongst the entry list, notable drivers include at United Autosports with co-owners Zak Brown and Richard Dean joined by McLaren IndyCar stars Felix Rosenqvist and Pato Oโ€™Ward.

The announcement also signals a potential entry in the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hours for Rossi, who has expressed interest in a WEC (and IMSA) outing for some time.

Rossi has previously said he is keen to see if he is capable to race in the Hypercar class of the WEC and this could be his first step towards that.

With previous sportscar racing experience under his belt, ‘The Doctor’ is already familiar with the endurance racing scene. Entering the Gulf 12 Hours once more will allow him to get back up to speed on four wheels.

Rossi’s sportscar experience is still minimal compared to those who race in endurance disciplines full-time.

A future Le Mans Hypercar seat will be a stretch afar as a silver-rated driver, but the possibility of entering a future privateer LMP2 team could be on the cards which could provide a stepping stone into a LMH program.