Rossi ‘becoming a car driver in 10 days’... but where will MotoGP ace race next?

Valentino Rossi braces for the final ten days of his long and record-breaking MotoGP career as he drops a hint as to where he will race cars in 2022

Valentino Rossi - Petronas SRT Yamaha

Valentino Rossi has confirmed he will continue racing full-time in 2022 in an as-yet-undetermined sportscar championship as he prepares to bring the curtain down on his glittering MotoGP career.

After 26 years competing in GP competition - 21 of which have spent at the highest levels in 500GP and MotoGP - this year’s season finale in Valencia in little more than a week’s time will mark the final time Rossi ventures out to the grid on two wheels.

While it hasn’t been swansong season to remember for the Italian, who currently sits 21st and last of the full-time MotoGP racers with a best finish of tenth place so far this year, Rossi is eager to sign off on a relative high even if he is grappling with the notion just two GPs stand between him ending his two-wheel career before embarking on a new challenge in four-wheel competition.

“Now it's two races in a row, so it's ten days. Imagine ten days compared to 26 years! It's nothing, he told reporters in Portimao, scene of this weekend’s Algarve MotoGP. 

"It's a very emotional moment, sincerely, and I want to try to stay concentrated to give the maximum to the end of the season.

"This for me is very important because in Misano my race was not too bad and I want to try to give the maximum and remain concentrated, not think a lot about what happens on the Monday after Valencia!

Life after MotoGP | What next for Valentino Rossi?

Touching on what the future holds for him, Rossi confirmed his intentions to enter one sportscar championship for a full-time berth, albeit one that will be less intensive than the MotoGP schedule.

Having become a regular in the Gulf 12 Hours endurance race driving a Ferrari, Rossi’s GT options include the GT World Challenge and International GT Challenge, plus categories of the European e Le Mans Series and World Endurance Championship.

However, Rossi hints he is priming his skills and availability to be involved with the new Hypercar class of endurance racing, which includes the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Though the Hypercar class is ‘live’ with Toyota currently the only manufacturer conforming to the hybrid blueprint following an overhaul of the regulations, the shift towards a more eco-centric format will see an influx of high-profile entries, starting in 2022 with Peugeot’s return before Ferrari, Audi, Porsche and Cadillac enter the fray in 2023.

"It's a very important moment for the GT races and Endurance races because they will do this new class that is called Hypercar and for 2023 all the big names in cars, the factories, also Ferrari, Porsche, Audi will race with these cars," he said

"Next years I will race with GT cars. I still don’t know which championship because it can be the WEC but can be also European Le Mans series or International GT challenge.

"We need to decide, also with which car, and I need to understand also my level and my speed because for sure I would like to race with LMP2 or with Hypercar [prototypes] but there the level of the drivers is very high. 

“So I don't know if I am fast enough. We will try to understand next year."

Does Rossi have a chance at Hypercar glory?

When viewed from a motorcycling perspective, Rossi should be a win-win for a big manufacturer looking to give their entry a big publicity boost.

In Rossi’s case there is certainly an argument for his presence, almost regardless of whether he is quick or not. One-off events as the Le Mans 24 Hours are not primarily contested for glory with plenty of so-called ‘gentlemen drivers’ who bring enough money to keep the lights on in the garage through the night despite not exactly delivering the same level of performance.

But finishing and even competing at Le Mans is a significant achievement and a driver of Rossi’s status would ultimately bring in more in exposure than it would take away in a 24 hour race regardless of where the car finished.

However, this only works up to a point with the influx of manufacturer entries likely to be throwing significant money at their efforts to not only win but to defeat an impressive entry list of rivals. Which means a level of quality in the line-ups Rossi - for all of his success on two wheels - might struggle to attain, which could freeze him out of the Ferrari line-up misty-eyed supporters are hoping for.

As Ferrari rather bluntly pointed out earlier in the year, it has reserved its seats for professional and, ahem, younger drivers…