Grand prix

Valentino Rossi: MotoGP icon on new GTWCE rivals – ‘I’m not far from top guys’ | MotoGP

Rossi will drive a Team WRT Audi R8 at the GT World Challenge Europe at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

His debut race at Imola was marred by a mistake in his team’s pit stop resulting in Rossi bypassing his crew, losing time and eventually finishing 17th.

Asked what his hopes were for his first race since that error, Rossi said: “Before Imola, I did not know. After Imola, I think we can fight for seventh or eighth place, maybe sixth. The level is very high.

“The top 15 are very strong. To stay in the top 10 is a good target. It will not be easy.

“My performance in Imola was not so bad. But during the weekend we had problems to face – first, qualifying you must do a lap before practice. This is very difficult.

“The good drivers have a big difference compared to me.

“My lap times were not so bad. But I need to arrive at that performance earlier. I need to improve my skills. I am not far from the top guys but they are faster than me.

“It is just the beginning of the season. I need to improve race-by-race.”

Swapping MotoGP for GT World Challenge

His team-mate on Sunday is Belgium’s Frédéric Vervisch, who has taken Rossi under his wing.

Vervisch said about Rossi’s apprenticeship in a new sport: “The best I’ve had so far. I am experienced with driver coaching. 

“What he has done is impressive. He is being modest. You tell him something once, and he does it.

“For him – he tries, it doesn’t work, he says ‘OK, try again’.

“He can do the same as us, or even better. He is just yet to bring it all together.”

Sunday will be Rossi’s first race at Brands Hatch – his MotoGP appearances in the UK were at Donnington and Silverstone.

He said on Friday: “It’s the first sprint race for me, so something different compared to the endurance race. You have to work a lot in the pit stops to not lose time.

“It is the first time for me at Brands Hatch and, unfortunately during the winter we did not do a test, so I do not know the track.

“I tested the track on the simulator. It’s a great track, fantastic, difficult. There are a lot of places that are blind. The track is in fantastic condition with new asphalt.

“The team is very high level. All the guys that work around the car can help me improve my skills.”

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