Valentino Rossi takes second place in BMW at Imola / FIA WEC

Valentino Rossi takes second place in BMW at Imola / FIA WEC

Valentino Rossi finished on the podium in the LMGT3 class in just his second race in the FIA ​​​​WEC. Along with teammates Ahmad Al Harthy and Maxime Martin, he ranks fourth in the drivers’ standings.

Valentino Rossi has achieved great success on two wheels – nine world championship titles speak volumes. For the 2022 season, “Il Dottore” used four-wheel racing all the time. He has been a works driver at BMW since 2023 and was able to achieve his first success in a car. At the start of the 2024 season, the 45-year-old joined the FIA ​​​​WEC. This is the official world championship for sports cars. There the superstar drives the BMW M4 LMGT3, which he shares with Ahmad Al Harthy and fellow works driver Maxime Martin.

In the second race of the season last weekend in Imola there was already the first podium for Rossi and his two colleagues. After six hours of racing, they took a strong second place in the 18-car LMGT3 class. BMW had more reason to be happy at Imola, as teammates Darren Leung, Sean Gelael and Augusto Farfus took class wins in the second M4 LMGT3.

Background: The FIA ​​​​WEC will include two categories of cars in 2024. Above, 19 supercars are fighting for the overall victory. LMGT3 cars are slower by more than ten seconds per lap and therefore only compete for class wins. Both car types share the track in the race.

The victory came thanks to a clever maneuver at BMW’s command post. First, the Porsche 911 set the pace of the class in the race. But then it rained in Imola. Porsche replaced the wet tires. At BMW it was decided to continue using slicks on the track. The risk paid off because it later dried up again. With Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin there were also two experienced works drivers in the two BMW cockpits at that crucial moment.

“I am very happy about the double win for Team WRT, for BMW M Motorsport and my first podium in the FIA ​​​​WEC,” highlighted Rossi. “We had a strong car in qualifying on Saturday – and Ahmad got a good third place on the grid. During the race we decided to stay out on slicks. Augusto was a bit faster than Maxime at the start and took the lead. However, I’m very happy with the result that.”

The Imola/Italy track was also Rossi’s home WEC for the 2024 season and 73,600 spectators turned up over the weekend – no doubt many also because of their motorsport hero. The trio of Rossi/Al Harthy/Martin almost won the class. But at the end of the race, a driving penalty was given to BMW because Rossi was driving too fast in the caution period shortly after the three and a half hour mark.

Rossi’s performance was still impressive. This is clear, for example, from his fastest sprint, which was 1:43.237 minutes. The 45-year-old was faster than team-mate and works driver Maxime Martin, who clocked 1:43.363.

After fourth in the opening round in Qatar and now second in Imola, Rossi/Al Harthy/Martin are fourth in the LMGT3 drivers’ standings. The next round of the season will be held on May 11 at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Maybe Valentino Rossi and his two car partners will get their first win of the season.