Our favourite images from MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi's debut at the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI.
Photos – Petr Frýba / Racing Pixels
The most famous number in MotoGP history officially makes the jump to GT3 competition in December 2022 when Valentino Rossi is confirmed as a BMW M Motorsport works driver. The nine-time motorcycle world champion will team up with then-two-time Hankook 24H DUBAI winner Team WRT for his first 24-hour motor race in January 2023.
A heart-in-mouth moment for Timothy Whale just a few laps into his first stint when the Briton is caught off guard by fluid dropped at turn five following a collision between Phoenix Racing and Speed Lover. Amazingly, the BMW survives with only minimal damage, and Whale is still running in the top five when he hands over to Max Hesse during the third hour.
Team WRT’s tenure as an official BMW M Motorsport partner begins in stunning fashion as the Belgian team’s #7 M4 GT3 sweeps to overall victory. There’s euphoria on the other side of the garage too, as Rossi brings the sister #46 home to secure 3rd overall and his first podium at a 24-hour motor race.
As Rossi celebrates with teammates Whale, Martin, Hesse and Sean Gelael, across on the top step, Mohammed Bin Saud Al Saud and Dries Vanthoor celebrate their second Hankook 24H DUBAI win in as many years alongside teammates (and first-time winners) Jens Klingmann, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Diego Menchaca. 2017 winners Alfred and Robert Renauer, Daniel Allemann and Ralf Bohn meanwhile celebrate a hard-fought 2nd place.