Former MotoGP star Rossi out of Gulf 12 hours due to COVID-19 contact

Rossi, the nine-time world grand prix motorcycle champion, was now due to make his regular appearance at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi with the Kessel Racing team behind the wheel of a Ferrari 488 GT3.

Category winner and overall podium in previous events, Rossi had to share a car with his close friend Alessio Salucci and his half-brother and current MotoGP rider Luca Marini.

However, Kessel Racing has confirmed that Rossi has been identified as close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in self-isolation.

As a result, Rossi will be absent from this weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours, which are set to start with the first practice sessions on Thursday.

Salucci and Marini will still be in competition, with former GP3 driver and GT regular David Fumanelli taking Rossi’s place.

A brief statement from Kessel Racing read: “Valentino Rossi will not take part in the Gulf 12 Hours, scheduled for Saturday 8th January.

“The nine-time world champion had contact with someone positive for COVID-19 and therefore quarantined himself.

“Luca Marini and Alessio” Uccio “Salucci are still confirmed, and they will regularly race the Abu Dhabi endurance race with David Fumanelli in the # 46 Ferrari 488 GT3.”

This year’s Gulf 12 Hours was to serve as a prologue to a wider GT campaign in 2022 for Rossi, who retired from MotoGP at the end of last season.

Valentino Rossi, WRT Audi R8 GT3 LMS

Photo by: Ferdi Kräling Motorsport-Bild GmbH

Rossi recently tested an Audi R8 for the WRT World Endurance Championship team (pictured above), but has yet to confirm his racing plans for this year.

Over the years Rossi has tested Formula 1 machines, competed in World Rally Championship events and competed in many outstanding GT endurance races – the Italian keen to one day compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Rossi has already had COVID-19, catching the virus in October 2020 and causing him to miss the double Aragon MotoGP title that year.

In 2022, Rossi’s VR46 team will move to MotoGP with Marini and rookie Marco Bezzecchi on Ducatis, the team having recently confirmed that Italian financial firm Mooney will be their title sponsor, ending a months-long debacle involving the Saudi oil giant Aramco.

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