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Rossi Sets Podium Target for 24H Le Mans Debut

MotoGP legend Rossi hopes to make use of La Sarthe experience as he and WRT teammates target LMGT3 glory…

Photo: Kristof Vermuelen/MPS Agency

Valentino Rossi has set the target of scoring a podium finish in the LMGT3 class on his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next week as part of the WRT BMW squad.

The motorcycling racing legend is tackling the French classic for the first time as part of his full-season FIA World Endurance Championship campaign alongside Maxime Martin and Ahmad Al Harthy at the wheel of the No. 46 BMW M4 GT3.

Rossi had his first taste of the Circuit de la Sarthe last year in the Road to Le Mans support event, winning the second leg alongside Jerome Policand, and the Italian feels this experience will be valuable as he gets back up to speed on Sunday’s test day.

“For me it’s the first time, so I’m very excited,” Rossi told reporters on the opening day of scrutineering in Le Mans. “I think that the atmosphere is something special here and I cannot wait to drive and start to race.

“It’s very important that I already drove the circuit last year [in the Road to Le Mans]. Last year I enjoyed the circuit a lot, it was good.

“It’s very difficult to understand [our level of competitiveness], because it changes track to track. But in the first three races [of the WEC], we were quite competitive. So we will try to fight for the podium.”

Asked if he felt confident of targeting victory on his debut, Rossi replied: “Difficult, but in 24 hours everything can happen. We hope to be fast enough [to win] and we’ll see.”

Martin: Rossi “100 Percent” at Level Needed to Win

Martin, the designated Platinum-rated driver aboard the No. 46 car, is convinced that Silver-rated Rossi has achieved a level needed for WRT to fight for victory in his third year of racing GT cars full-time.

The Belgian pointed to the fact that he and Rossi have scored two wins together in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS competition.

“He progressed a lot,” Martin told Sportscar365. “He is a lot more consistent, fewer mistakes. He is more confident in the car, it’s a lot easier for him.

“We’ve won some races now, we’ve done a few podiums, so for sure he is getting there, getting quicker and quicker.”

On whether Rossi has the potential to win on his Le Mans debut, Martin replied: “For sure, 100 percent.

“With these driver lineups you can have, Valentino is one of the best silvers you can have. He is the guy who needs to do the job and I’m sure he will so that we can win it.”

The Belgian added he is unfazed by the huge amount of media attention surrounding Rossi upon his Le Mans debut.

“For sure it’s always a bit different, but the race is the same,” Martin said. “You have to focus on yourself and on your own race, and in the end you need to ignore all this attention and try and do your job.

“I have been with Valentino a few times, it’s the second year, so I think as a team we are a bit more used to it now, and as a [driver] pairing.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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