Recently-retired seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will miss this weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours car race, having been left unable to defend his title in Abu Dhabi after being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The news means that his half brother Luca Marini and best friend Uccio Salucci will instead partner up with former GP3 racer turned GT regular David Fumanelli for the event.
Rossi, Marini and Salucci are twice the winners of the Pro-Am class at the 12-hour race which alternates between countries in the Gulf region, with this year’s event taking place at the Yas Marina circuit in the United Arab Emirates state of Abu Dhabi.
However, after being a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, Rossi is now in self-isolation at home in Italy, with Fumanelli drafted into the Kessel Racing Ferrari team in his place.
Action kicks off on Thursday, January 6 with free practice at the Formula 1 season finale venue, ahead of qualifying on Friday and a new format for the race itself on Saturday. The 12 hour race is now split into two separate races of six hours each, with a three-hour break in between.
The race was due to mark the first event of Rossi’s new career in four-wheeled racing following his retirement from MotoGP last November, with the nine-time world champion expected to announce a full campaign in the GT3 class for 2022 soon.