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Le Mans Road to Le Mans

Rossi's Road to Le Mans partner thought WRT offer was a joke

Valentino Rossi’s team-mate in this weekend’s Road to Le Mans race thought it was a joke when he was offered the chance to drive with the bike racing legend. 

#46 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3: Valentino Rossi, Jerome Policand

Jerome Policand revealed to Autosport that he did not believe WRT boss Vincent Vosse’s offer to race with the seven-time MotoGP champion aboard one of his team’s BMW M4 GT3s in the support event on the bill of this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours. 

“Vincent called me and said, ‘Do you want to drive in the Road to Le Mans race,” said Policand, a veteran of 13 Le Mans starts who now runs the Auto Sport Promotion Mercedes team that races against WRT in the GT World Challenge Europe. 

“Then he said he wanted me to drive with Valentino. I thought it was a joke, but when he told me that he was serious, what was I going to say?

“I’m 58 and I’m getting the chance to drive with Valentino on a circuit I love, so I was always going to say yes.”

Vosse revealed that he targeted Policand to take the spot in the line-up for the mandatory bronze-rated driver for his Le Mans experience. 

“I needed a bronze and I wanted someone with good experience of Le Mans, so I thought of Jerome,” said Vosse. “He was the perfect choice to help Valentino on his first time at Le Mans.”

 

Policand was downgraded to bronze status three years ago when he turned 55. 

The Frenchman explained that he stopped considering himself a professional racing driver after his last full season of competition in the French GT Championship in 2007. 

He has raced only sporadically since, including an appearance in the 24H Series at the wheel of one of his own Mercedes-AMG GT3 this year. 

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BMW factory driver Rossi is taking part in the two Road to Le Mans races, which combine GT3 and LMP3 machinery, to learn the circuit ahead of a projected first start in the 24 Hours next year. 

The 44-year-old expects to race in the new LMGT3 class to be introduced in 2024, an opportunity that could come with WRT. 

The Belgian team is in the running to field a pair of BMW M4 GT3s in the World Endurance Championship, alongside its full-factory programme in the Hypercar class with the German manufacturer’s M Hybrid V8 LMDh. 

The first of the two 55-minute Road to Le Mans races, which are rounds of the Michelin-sponsored Le Mans Cup, starts at 18:30 local time on Thursday. 

Rossi qualified second in GT3 to WRT team-mate and fellow BMW factory driver Max Hesse in the opening session, while Policand was quickest in the session for the bronze drivers that set the grid for the second race on Friday.

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