Rossi 12th in Wales Rally GB

MotoGP Champ wins Abu Dhabi Spirt of the Rally Award

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Dec. 09, 2008
MotoGP Champion Valentino Rossi competed in the final round of the 2008 FIA World Rally Champinship, Dec. 5-7 in Cardiff, Wales.

Rossi raced in the Wales Rally GB driving a Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Focus bearing his familiar number 46 and livery featuring Pudsey bear, the mascot for BBC Children in Need charity. Rossi and his co-driver Carlo Cassina finished 12th in a field of 78 entries. Only 47 were classified when the race concluded.

The 12th-place finish redeemed Rossi’s previous appearance in the three-day Rally GB – Rossi crashed out at the first forest stage in his WRC debut in the 2002 Rally GB – and was just one spot behind his finish in the 2006 Rally New Zealand.

Rossi started the 2008 Rally GB deep in the pack at 45th after the opening stage, but was able to fight his way up to 24th at the end of a weather-shortened first day. Stages one and four were cancelled due to unsafe conditions while stages three and six were shortened considerably.

Icy conditions provided a challenge for Valentino Rossi in the Wales Rally GB.The six-time MotoGP Champion continued his progress through the competition on Saturday, making his way to up 15th at the end of day two, ahead of some WRC regulars. Rossi did get a scare during the Crychan stage on day two when he overshot a corner and crashed. The accident cracked the windshield and took out the front bumper, but Rossi was able to finish the day.

Rossi continued to show progress on day three and worked his way up to 12th place, finishing 13:20.4 behind the winners, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.

“I’m very happy, firstly to finish the rally and secondly to set some very good times on Sunday’s four stages,” said Rossi. “The car was fantastic and I was finding it easy to drive when we got a precise setting. My approach was to take the race step-by-step and try not to make any mistakes and this worked well. I think this rally was very difficult and finishing it makes me very happy indeed. It’s been fantastic working with the Stobart team; they are all very friendly and hopefully we will get a chance to work again together.”

Rossi’s performance in the Rally GB impressed some of his competition.

Valentino Rossi was presented the Abu Dhabi Spirt of the Rally Award.“He is doing it the right way now, by having fun and starting slowly and improving step by step and gaining in confidence. That is the way you have to come in the WRC,” says second-place finisher Jari-Matti Latvala. “Take me for example. I have been here now since I was seventeen and I am now twenty three. So now I am starting to be able to fight against Sebastien but it took so many years, six years, to get where I am. Things don’t happen quickly unless you are multi-talented. So for me, Valentino’s performance was good and I am really happy to see how he is improving and if he does more World Rallies in the future he could reach quite easily a top ten position.”

Following the race, Rossi was presented with the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally award which recognizes contributions to WRC while demonstrating respect, innovation, integrity and teamwork.