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Valentino Rossi joins WEC LMGT3 ranks with BMW in 2024

Bike racing legend Valentino Rossi will graduate to the World Endurance Championship’s new LMGT3 class with BMW in 2024.

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi

Shameem Fahath

The seven-time MotoGP champion and BMW factory driver has been nominated in one of two M4 GT3s to be run by the Belgian WRT squad, which was confirmed as the German manufacturer’s representative in the new class with the publication of the 2024 WEC entry on Monday.

The 44-year-old moves over to the WEC after two full seasons of car racing with WRT in the GT World Challenge Europe in 2022-23, first in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and then the M4.

Rossi has made no secret of his desire to race in the WEC and its centrepiece round, the Le Mans 24 Hours, through this season and took part in the Road to Le Mans support race in June.

“I am very excited to compete in the WEC,” said Rossi. “It is the next step for me to participate in a world championship, not only in Europe but to race globally again.”

His path into the WRT WEC line-up has been eased by his downgrading from gold to silver status under the FIA’s driver categorisation system.

The LMGT3 class, like the GTE Am class it has replaced, allows for only one full pro, a platinum or gold-ranked driver.

#46 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Valentino Rossi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

#46 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Valentino Rossi

At least one bronze is mandatory and the third driver is typically a silver.

Rossi and the bronze-rated team-mate will likely be joined by a BMW factory driver in the WRT BMW.

Longtime BMW driver Augusto Farfus, who is rated as platinum, is the only nominated driver in the sister car.

BMW is one of nine manufacturers, each with two cars, that will be represented in LMGT3 in the WEC next year.

It will be joined by Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Ford, McLaren and Lexus.

McLaren’s proposed entry with United Autosports and Lexus’s with Auto Sports Promotion have been confirmed, while the AF Corse and Iron Lynx teams will fly the flag for Ferrari and Lamborghini as expected.

The Heart of Racing and D’Station squads will represent Aston Martin, with their respective entries set to be run by the in-house Aston Martin Racing squad from the marque’s GT racing partner Prodrive.

Aston Martin GT3

Photo by: Uncredited

Aston Martin GT3

The German Manthey team’s two Porsche entries will by suffixed by EMA and PureRXcing, respectively Australian and Lithuanian entrants.

Former Audi factory driver Kelvin van der Linde will race one of the French ASP team’s Lexus RC F GT3s.

The South African was nominated along with Jose Maria Lopez, who has moved into the Toyota brand’s GT line-up after his replacement by Nyck de Vries in its WEC Hypercar roster.

Richard Lietz and Klaus Bachler are the Porsche factory drivers listed in the two 911 GT3-Rs run by Manthey, which is part-owned by the German manufacturer.

Ex-Formula 2 racer Marino Sato will race one of United’s McLaren 720S GT3 Evos after making his debut with the team in the 2023 European Le Mans Series.

The other nominated driver at United is Gregoire Saucy, who is switching to sportscars after two years in Formula 3 with ART.

Podium: #54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, Davide Rigon

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Podium: #54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, Davide Rigon

Other factory drivers on the LMGT3 entry are Davide Rigon and Alessio Rovera in the pair of AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3s and Marco Sorensen in the D’Station Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

New Chevrolet signings Charlie Eastwood and Daniel Juncadella are the two drivers listed in the TF Sport team’s pair of Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs.

The drivers nominated so far in the two Proton Competition Ford Mustang GT3s are Ben Barker and Ryan Hardwick.

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