Valentino Rossi has reaffirmed that his post-MotoGP future lies in endurance racing, as he considers his options for where the nine-time grand prix world champion will find his next adrenaline buzz once he retires from two-wheeled competition at the end of the current season.
Linked to both endurance series and to touring car competition as well as a return to rallying since announcing his decision to step down at the Styrian Grand Prix last month, he admitted that it’s looking increasingly likely that he will find himself in longer-form races next season.
“We don’t decide yet,” he told the media, “but we have had a lot of good contacts in the past months and I’m very happy. We try to organise a good programme for next year, with a good level. I don’t think it’ll be DTM, I think I’ll race more in the endurance series, but we still haven’t decided yet which championship.
“There are two or three different championships to choose from. We haven’t decided about the car, but we’d have a lot of good contacts.”
Rossi has already experimented with endurance racing before, dating back to his car racing debut in the 2009 Vallelunga 6 Hours and outings in what was then the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2012.
For the past the past two years he has taken part in the Gulf 12 Hour race, winning the GTE Am class and finishing third overall both times alongside half-brother and fellow MotoGP racer Luca Marini and best friend Uccio Salucci.
He has competed there so far in a customer Ferrari 488 GT3 provided by racing rental specialists Kessel Racing. Should he decide to embark on a full season-long campaign, however, it’s likely that he’ll receive greater support from the iconic Italian brand given their past shared history, which has even seen Rossi test its F1 car on multiple occasions.
However, he also hinted that there could be a chance to do something different from the expected path in GT-spec cars, in part inspired by close friend and former Moto2 frontrunner Mattia Pasini.
Since stepping down as a full-time rider in the middleweight class at the end of the 2019 season, 12-time race winner Pasini has taken his talents to the LMP3 class, competing in the 2021 European Le Mans Series for Polish team Inter Europol Competition and finishing on the podium last time out at the 4 Hours of Monza.
“Paso is fast with the LMP3,” added Rossi, “very strong, and has already taken a podium.
“This is good, because he’s driving a prototype and usually I drive a GT car. I haven’t driven a prototype, just one time a Maserati GT1, but that was more than 15 years ago.
“It’s good that Paso is fast, because it looks like motorcycle racers can be strong in the prototypes.”