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Valentino Rossi: More Success on Four Wheels Than Two, of Late

In the world of rally, Sebastian Loeb has success and titles to rival those of Valentino Rossi in the world of motorcycling.  Rossi, however, can also race cars on a level equal to that of a rally pro.  You may know that he has tested with Ferrari with an eye toward an F1 seat, but you may not know just how fast he is in a rally car.  How about taking two stages from Loeb at the Monza Rally event, and finishing second overall . . . ahead of at least one other rally pro.  The details are in the following press release from his sponsor, Monster Energy, followed by a video of his performance.

Each year, just after the WRC and MotoGP calendars finally wind down, an all star cast of racing greats get together in Italy for the Monza Rally Show. Supported by totally legit WRC and S2000 whips, plus tens and tens of thousands of ecstatic fans, the drivers race stage and head-to-head formats inside the walls of one of the coolest tracks on the planet.

Make no mistake, the event might not be on an official calendar but the talent on show is off the charts. Valentino Rossi has been supporting the event for years and this year, Seb Loeb (WRC World Champion) was in town to keep the timekeeping honest.

Valentino may be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to MotoGP but it turns out he’s a savagely fast driver as well. Fair play, he’s done a couple of WRC Rallies as a wildcard but he’s not exactly got a load of time on his hands to practice on 4 wheels.

The 3 day event started super well for the #46 car and Friday night he was right at the sharp end thanks to a close second to Loeb. Better came on Saturday when he took 2 stage wins and meant he and Seb Loeb had separated themselves from the rest of the pack and left him needing to bring it home on Sunday to stand on the second step. Claiming the podium and finishing only 22 seconds adrift of a multiple World Rally Champion was an immense job and to think he had Dani Sordo behind him in 4th means he dispatched a WRC ace along the way.

The finale of the show was the head-to-head race (run in the memory of Marco Simoncelli) that took place on the start/finish straight in front of overflowing grandstands. As a knockout format there was zero margin for error and just as he had in the stage formats, Valentino produced a ton of convincing wins which took him to a semi-final with Dani Sordo. As convincing as he had been all weekend, Valentino produced the goods again and it was a final showdown with Seb Loeb as a prize.

The final brought Valentino’s only lapse in judgement all weekend when he clipped a tyre wall when throwing the car into one of the tightest sections on the course. It left Loeb with the title but no doubt about who the two standout drivers were of the whole event. Standing proud on the podium for the second time Valentino was quick to stress how much fun he’d managed to have whilst putting in a performance which could only be described as a masterclass in driving.

Props go out to the GOAT and to the thousands who camped out to support the team outside the garage and in the stands. It was a huge atmosphere and proof if you need it of how cool motorsport can be when everyone’s there to mix racing with a massive amount of fun.

18 Comments

  1. Scotty says:

    They are based on production model but obviously heavily modified by M-Sport in Cockermouth, Cumbria UK. Malcom Wilson is the CEO – I know someone who works there and it is a dream job for a young mechanic like him. I think 400hp but not sure..

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  2. R*Rocket says:

    Give me a break about Schumacher being savagely fast on two wheels. It’s one thing to do a hot lap, it’s another to race. When he entered the German SBK series (a domestic series, let alone a world series) he qualified near the back (39 out of 40 riders). And finished 28th. And plenty of crashing along the way.

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  3. Marc says:

    @Morris, Schumaker was savagely fast on a motorcycle, about 5 seconds off of Pedrosa’s lap record at Valencia on a *guest lap* on Stoner’s Ducati GP7. Not bad for a 38yo on someone else’s 800cc GP bike with little or no practice. Unfortunately, age is more of a factor on 2 wheels and he waited (likely due to fear of the costs of an injury to his F1 career) until very late, so we’ll never see him compete at top levels at this point.

    All of these guys are superhuman.

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  4. RD says:

    Who is up to Loebs Standards?? There both GODS among mortal men IMO…..

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  5. E-Ticket says:

    When you’re good … you’re goood. And traction is traction.
    *Major* props to Rossi for his amazing accomplishments for just “guest driving” in F1 and the rally cars. To be able to drive that good from the start is just phenomenal.

    But. This “rally car racing” did not have any trees. Or rocks. Or dirt. Or mud. Of blind corners. And definitely no + 100 mph blind “yumps” followed by an “acute right with exposure.”

    And that is a totally different world. It not only takes skill but a huge accumulation of experience over time.

    Just the same. I’d love to see Rossi jump to the WRC after he’s done with the mo-mo’s.
    It’d be a gas. On, on!!

    Cheers, E-Ticket

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  6. Morris Bethoven says:

    It always nice to see a bike racer excel in two different racing disciplines. Bike racers have successfully crossed over into car racing, but how car racers have moved over to become successful in bike racing? I can’t think of one.

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    • Dave says:

      I can’t either. As another poster points out above, going from two wheels to four is more natural because it’s easier to be competitive in a car at an older age. It would also be an extraordinary circumstance for someone who reached the professional level in auto racing to arrange a switch to moto that didn’t result in a big pay-cut.

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  7. tiremelter says:

    Good Point Scott… No way he can compete when they are full bore… much of the win is from the copilot anyway.

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  8. Dave says:

    He tested 11th fastest in an F1 car among the whole F1 field. This took place the 3rd time he ever drove one. Let’s think about that for a second.. Rossi could walk on to any motorsports team in the world.

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  9. John McDowell says:

    So, are these little Ford cars available in the US?

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    • Dean says:

      You can buy a Ford Focus here, but it won’t be a Turbo 4-cylinder making 300-400 hp, pushed through a sequencial manual transmission and driving all four wheels! Just like you can buy a version of any Nascar car, but they don’t come with roll cages!

      Closest you can get to that kind of car in the U.S. is a Subaru WRX (several versions available) and Mitsubishi EVO. I think Suzuki was coming out with a small 4-wheel drive car too.

      I have a 2005 Subaru WRX, 230hp turbo, 5-speed manual to the 4-wheel drive. Factory stock. It is a blast to drive, and when you can get all 4 wheels broke loose, it drifts the back out like an old rear wheel drive car. So much fun… I call it my four wheel motorcycle because it is the most fun to drive next to my bikes!

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  10. man relish says:

    as long as ducati doesn’t have a hand in the design of the rally car….

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  11. MGNorge says:

    He may simply be winding down in his motorcycle racing career, as is normal, and finding a new thrill. Whether he succeeds as a rally driver, time will tell. The younger and fresher riders may be more than he can handle anymore plus their machinery has improved.

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  12. Scott in the UK says:

    Forgot to say – dirt / mud /ice?? Not a lot there by the look of it. Stiil, all the best to the fella.

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  13. butchy says:

    This guy could make race a shopping cart look good…

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  14. Scott in the UK says:

    The critical point here was that WRC was winding down. Its like an end of season party. I don’t doubt that Rossi + co-driver can make a rally car go at a good pace; but he’s not up to Loebs standard (or indeed many of the curent top rally drivers) yet. He might get there – he might not.

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  15. Gutterslob says:

    The guy definitely looks better in black than he does in Duc Red.
    Pretty bad-ass lookin Ford as well. Wonder what kind of frame it uses?

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