MotoGP legend Rossi to test BMW LMDh prototype

Seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi is on course to test new employer BMW’s LMDh prototype.

#46 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS evo II GT3: Valentino Rossi

BMW has stated that it is planning to give the 43-year-old Italian a test outing in the M Hybrid V8, probably some time toward the end of the year.

The revelation follows the announcement from the German manufacturer just before Christmas that Rossi is joining its factory GT3 line-up for his second full season of car racing in 2023.

BMW M Motorsport boss Andreas Roos said: “We plan to give him the chance of a test.

“There is the plan to give him the chance to experience a nice car like the GTP [the class in which the M Hybrid will run in the IMSA SportsCar Championship].

“The GT3 is already a nice car, but a GTP for sure is a different level.”

Roos ruled out Rossi getting behind the wheel of the LMDh in the short term as BMW begins its maiden season with the car in the North American IMSA series.

“If it happens this year, definitely later in the year,” he explained.

“I think at the moment we all have enough work to do and enough things to sort to be best prepared [for the IMSA campaign].”

Connor De Phillippi, Marco Wittmann, BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8

Connor De Phillippi, Marco Wittmann, BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8

Photo by: Andreas Beil

Roos would not be drawn on whether BMW has aspirations for Rossi to race the M Hybrid in the future, either in IMSA with the Rahal team or in the World Endurance Championship.

The German manufacturer will enter the Hypercar class of the WEC in 2024 with the WRT team with which Rossi made the full-time switch to four wheels last season.

“The first goal for Valentino is to be part of our driver line-up in the GT3 programme,” he said.

“As he hasn’t ever driven a car like this [the M Hybrid], we first to have him in the car and see how he gets along with the car, how he feels in the car.

“There will be tests and we will see from there what next steps we can do, whether there is the possibility yes or no [for him to race the M Hybrid].”

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Roos suggested that it remains “a bit too early” to speculate on what might be possible in the future.

Rossi has made his desire to one day compete at the Le Mans 24 Hours, the centrepiece round of the WEC, but has yet to lay down a timeline for fulfilling that ambition beyond saying he doesn’t expect it to happen in 2023.

He is continuing with WRT after its switch from BMW to Audi for 2023 and will again contest both the Endurance and Sprint Cup legs of the GT World Challenge Europe.

He will share one of the WRT BMW M4 GT3s with Maxime Martin in the short-format races and with the Belgian and Augusto Farfus in the enduros.

WRT will also undertake a programme in the Intercontinental GT Challenge beginning at next month’s Bathurst 12 Hours in which Rossi will compete alongside Martin and Farfus.

Rossi’s programme with WRT was confirmed a week ahead of the announcement that he would join the BMW factory roster.

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