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GT World Challenge Europe: Valentino Rossi claims his maiden GTWC victory at his home race in Misano.

Valentino Rossi’s (ITA) success story as a BMW M works driver has hit a new high. The nine-time motorcycle world champion claimed his maiden GTWC victory at his home event in Misano (ITA), which formed part of round two of this season’s Sprint Cup within the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS (GTWC). The win represents the biggest success of the Italian’s career in automobile racing so far.

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Misano. Valentino Rossi’s (ITA) success story as a BMW M works driver has hit a new high. The nine-time motorcycle world champion claimed his maiden GTWC victory at his home event in Misano (ITA), which formed part of round two of this season’s Sprint Cup within the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS (GTWC). The win represents the biggest success of the Italian’s career in automobile racing so far. Racing alongside Maxime Martin (BEL), Rossi was unbeatable in Sunday’s one-hour race, which took place in scorching heat. As well as overall victory, BMW M Team WRT also celebrated a class win in the Gold Cup and further podium results. 


Rossi’s and Martin’s celebrations knew no bounds after Sunday’s race in Misano – nor did the adulation of the countless fans of the Italian motor racing legend, who made Rossi’s home outing in Misano a true spectacle. They were rewarded with their hero’s biggest triumph in automobile racing to date. A few weeks ago, Rossi claimed his very first victory on four wheels at the ‘Road to Le Mans’. However, finishing on the top step of the podium against the best GT racing drivers in the world in GTWC Europe is a cut above that achievement. Martin laid the foundation for the duo’s success with third place in qualifying. However, it was Rossi who produced a commanding performance and some impressive lap times to close out the victory in the second half of the race. Interestingly, Martin was also involved the last time a BMW race car won a race in the GTWC Sprint Cup. That was eight years ago, alongside Dirk Müller (GER) in a BMW Z4 GT3.


As well as the overall victory on Sunday, BMW M Team WRT also had more cause for celebration. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts (both BEL) had already produced a fantastic fightback in the Saturday race, battling through from 21st on the grid to finish third. The duo then started from pole position on Sunday, but dropped well back after an issue during the pit stop and eventually had to settle for ninth place. Celebrating together with Rossi and Martin on the podium on Sunday were Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Thomas Neubauer (both FRA), who finished an excellent third. Niklas Krütten (GER) and Calan Williams (AUS) won the Gold Cup on Sunday, having previously finished runners-up on Saturday.


Reactions after the race weekend.


Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “Congratulations to Valentino Rossi on his very first victory in the GT World Challenge Europe! And at his home race in Misano! A fantastic script like this is almost too good to be true. This win is confirmation of the fantastic development he has shown at the wheel of the BMW M4 GT3 in recent months. Congratulations also to Maxime Martin, who played a huge role in this success with his speed and experience. They have grown in strength as a team from race to race and are now capable of winning on their own at the highest level. I can hardly wait to see where this development will take them. Congratulations to everyone at BMW M Team WRT on a magnificent race weekend in Misano, which included a class win and more podium finishes in both races! Once again, the BMW M4 GT3 has shown that it can win races all over the world. Thank you very much to all involved!”


Vincent Vosse (Team Principal BMW M Team WRT): “Overall, it was a very emotional weekend for us. First, the disappointment after Saturday's qualifying, then the sensational comeback of car #32 to the podium, and also car #46 finishing eighth. Then today, the pole position, the overall victory, the podium, and the Gold Cup win. Misano remains a special place for our team as we have always been successful here. But to win this race with Vale is a special moment for the entire team.”


Valentino Rossi (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “It couldn't be any better! To celebrate my first victory in this racing series precisely here in Misano is something very special. I have also won at the 'Road to Le Mans', but to win at this level in my main racing series is something entirely different. I have been in the racing series for a year and a half now, and it was tough competing against such high-class competition. Now, I have reached the top. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the entire WRT team, Vincent Vosse, Maxime Martin, and BMW. The atmosphere is fantastic, and I am thoroughly enjoying this at the moment. This is how we want to continue.”


Maxime Martin (#46 BMW M4 GT3): “A fantastic weekend! If I could choose a race for the first victory with Vale, it would undoubtedly be Misano. I had a good qualifying on Sunday and managed to put the car on the second row of the grid. Our crew then executed the fastest pit stop of the race, putting us in the lead, which Vale defended perfectly. I am very happy also for the team and for BMW M Motorsport. I was there for the last victory in the Sprint Cup in 2015 in Nogaro – that feels like a long time ago. It's nice that we have now proven that the BMW M4 GT3 can win GTWC sprint races. We have a good momentum overall, and we want to carry it into the upcoming races.”


Dries Vanthoor (#32 BMW M4 GT3): “All in all, it was a good weekend for us. We didn't think beforehand that we would be able to compete for the win at this track. On Saturday, we had a great comeback to reach the podium. On Sunday, with the pole position and a good first stint, we once again showed how strong we are. Unfortunately, there was a problem during the pit stop that probably cost us the victory. But there is no reason to be angry about it, because overall we are moving in the right direction and understanding the BMW M4 GT3, which is new to us, better and better. We want to build on that at the Nürburgring.”


Charles Weerts (#32 BMW M4 GT3): “After the weak qualifying on Saturday, we showed a great response and turned the weekend into a positive one. The team did a great job on Saturday, and we were able to secure a well-deserved podium finish. On Sunday, the problem during the pit stop set us back, but we don't blame anyone for it. Such things can happen, even to the best crew in the entire field. With ninth place, we still collected valuable points.”

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