With the MotoGP title already under the belt, Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi will be taking the wheel behind a Rally car at the Wales Rally GB. BP-Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team boss, Malcolm Wilson, the mastermind behind this move, expects the Italian to finish the rally in the top ten. Running a Ford Focus RS WRC for the Cardiff event, Rossi will also participate for the team at the Monza Rally Show.
Having Rossi as part of the team has been an incredible experience according to Wilson and he believes that his team will gain a lot of this. “It all started with getting a car for the Monza Rally,” he said. “But we knew he wanted to do Rally GB as well, so we’re really pleased he’s going to end up in one of our cars. As a team we’re looking forward to working with somebody who’s won so many world titles. I’m sure that we can help him a lot but I think there are a lot of things he might be able to help us with too. I’m really looking forward to that opportunity.”
Despite being probably the greatest rider of all time, Valentino Rossi has constantly affirmed his love for Rallying. Unfortunately for Rossi, MotoGP commitments do not leave much spare time to pursue such interests. Although, that hasn’t stopped him from participating in a number of shorter sprint events such as the Monza Rally Show and the Begetta Memorial Rallysprint. But this will not be the first time Rossi has been in a World Rally Championship race.
His first appearance came in 2002 when he took part in the Wales Rally GB in 2002, for Peugeot. A short appearance though it was, with retirement coming just 17 kilometers into the rally. In 2006, Rossi was in Rally New Zealand with the Subaru World Rally Team’s Impreza WRC. A cautious start led to a strong finish and eventually, Rossi ended the event in 11th place, starting from 24th.
In 2006, Rossi’s testing commitments kept him away from his Rallying desires however the testing ban this season, is in perfect coordination with the Wales Rally GB and Rossi will be busy preparing for it with pre-rally tests near the team’s home base in Cumbria.
“I have to say he’s picked potentially one of the most difficult rallies, so it’s going to be hard for sure, but at least he’s got New Zealand under his belt,” said Wilson. “If he can get a good test without any problems and get familiar with the car then a lot will depend on the conditions. There’s no reason at all why he can’t finish in the top 20 and if the conditions are dry and things go his way then probably somewhere between 8th and 15th.” said Malcolm Wilson, on Rossi’s chances in the rally.