Humble start to the season for Valentino Rossi at GT World Challenge Europe. “Il Dottore” maintains a good performance in the field and fights for 12th place. But when driving to the service station during the safety car, it overlooks the pits.
The first race of the 2022 season for Valentino Rossi at the GT World Challenge Europe has ended. As is known, the nine-time MotoGP world champion switched from two-wheeler to four-wheeler during the winter and will start with the 585-hp Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II engine from the WRT team. He shares the cockpit with official Audi drivers Nico Müller and Frédéric Vervich. At the start of the season in Imola/Italy, things didn’t go as planned. The trio finished 17th. Dries Fanthor, Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Wirts won another Audi WRT.
Before the race, there was qualifying first. The GT World Challenge Europe is divided into three sections. One driver drives each car in each segment. In the end, an average of three times is formed. Vervisch finished fourth in his group with a time of 1:40.618 minutes, Müller managed the P10 with a time of 1:40.849 minutes and Rossi was 37th in his class with a time of 1:41,132 minutes. Combined, that meant a time of 1:40,866 minutes and 15th place on the grid for the trio in the 3-hour race.
Swiss Müller started the race and led the Audi to 14th. Rossi then took over the car with the four rings in the radiator for the second job. The Italian maintained a good position on the field and was 13th for a long time, and it was worth seeing that he fought for places with other Audis. Towards the end of his tenure, there was a frantic activity on the track. First, the full yellow for the course had to be announced because of the Aston Martin. Immediately afterwards, race director Alan Adam ordered the safety car stage. But seconds before the race was scheduled to start again, a Bentley crashed into the rear of a Lamborghini, causing a lot of little wood (or rather little carbon) on the track. Thus the race remained under yellow.
So it was also clear that a pit stop for the third driver would happen under safe car conditions. This was a Russian retreat. In the busy pit lane, the lollipop man couldn’t stand the exact spot to show Rossi the way to the pit lane. Rossi immediately skipped the drill and had to complete another course before returning to duty. “A lot of confusion with a lot of cars and unfortunately I missed the dig. This is an experience,” he commented on the situation later.
Of course, a lot of places were lost as a result. Verfish, who took over from Rossi, found himself in 27th place. “The race is very different, but I enjoyed it,” said the fast Belgian, Audi to 17th. MotoGP star Rossi, summing up the race at the weekend, said. “I did two good laps. The first experience was positive.”
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