Valentino Rossi will make his Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli debut when he contests the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour with BMW M Team WRT on February 3-5.
The Italian has been confirmed aboard one of the Belgian squad’s two new M4 GT3s, which are also making their first appearance at Mount Panorama and will be nominated to score IGTC points on behalf of their manufacturer.
WRT is best known for its success with Audi but is switching marques in 2023 when it also enters Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS and the Dubai 24 Hours.
Rossi, who first raced with WRT last season, will again use his iconic #46 at Bathurst when he partners BMW factory drivers Maxime Martin and Augusto Farfus. The latter won Intercontinental’s drivers’ crown when BMW last contested the globe-trotting GT3 series in 2020.
The manufacturer’s second line-up pairs new BMW recruits and reigning Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup champions Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor with DTM’s 2022 title winner Sheldon van der Linde.
WRT and Vanthoor won at Bathurst in 2018, while Van der Linde scored his only IGTC victory at Kyalami, alongside Farfus, in 2020.
BMW has yet to win at Bathurst during the 12 Hour’s 11-edition GT3 era, although it did secure the Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy with the previous generation M6 and Chaz Mostert in 2018.
The announcement was made just prior to WRT’s annual end-of-season party at which Rossi’s Bathurst livery will be revealed.
“It’s a very busy and exciting period for us as we advance in the new partnership with BMW and prepare for the 2023 season,” said WRT’s team principal Vincent Vosse. “The end-of-the-year break will be very short, but today is the time for our yearly party, a tradition we cherish and allows the entire WRT family to get together around a good dinner. It’s a perfect time to show our people the BMW M4 GT3 in full race gear and announce some more elements of our 2023 race programmes.
“We are extremely happy to retain and welcome heavy names such as the ones you have read above. Our first race in Dubai is basically around the corner, shortly followed by our debut as BMW M Team WRT at Bathurst. We are terribly excited at what is ahead of us and can’t wait to be hitting the track!”
Rossi might never have raced at Mount Panorama but he is no stranger to success Down Under where The Doctor scored six premier class victories during his glittering MotoGP career, as well as another two in the 250cc class. All eight came at Phillip Island.
Bathurst will be the first event at which an entry raced by Rossi has been nominated to score IGTC points.