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RideFast Jan 2020

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PADDOCK NEWS Brought to you by VALENTINO ROSSI TOOK A CLASS WIN IN HIS FIRST CAR RACE FOR SEVEN YEARS. ROSSI AND HAMILTON TAKE PART IN UNIQUE ‘RIDE SWAP’ Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has sampled Valentino Rossi’s Monster Energy Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP machine in a unique ‘ride swap’ at Valencia, where the latter also had the opportunity to drive Hamilton’s 2017 Mercedes-AMG Petronas W08 F1 car. Hamilton, who rode a WorldSBKspec Yamaha R1 last year with the Pata Yamaha squad, was onboard the M1 that Rossi piloted at Valencia’s MotoGP season finale, earning praise from the famous number 46. “It’s so awesome to see a legend like Valentino in the car,” Hamilton commented. “I’m excited for him, for discovering the car for the first time. It reminds me of my first time in an F1 car. “When you see all the team around you, it’s just a different animal. It was so cool to be out on track and see Valentino ahead of me on the same bike.” Rossi is no stranger to driving an F1 car, having had opportunities to do so in a Ferrari from 2002 through to his last appearance in 2010. “Technically, Valencia is a hard track and today was windy so at one point,” Rossi explained. “I thought it would be difficult for Lewis to continue, but he was brilliant on the bike and his position on the M1 was great. I think he had loads of fun, which is the main thing. “I was a big fan of Lewis’ before but now I am even more. We had a fantastic day, where the two top classes of motorsports not only met, but worked together. “I felt like a real F1 driver for a day. I didn’t want the day to end. I also rode the YZR-M1 on track with Lewis. It was a proud moment for the team to share our passion with him.” ROSSI ENDED 1,5s AFTER HAMILTON AT F1… AND HAMILTON 4s FROM ROSSI AT MOTOGP Even after the official release of images and statements, details about what actually happened at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit were scarce. However, Sky Sports had some details on lap times in this unique experience for both riders. Sky Sports reported that both men had ‘spinning’ moments on track, and that Rossi was 1.5s slower than Hamilton, who previously drove to set a reference time. For Hamilton it was not so easy to follow the Italian veteran at the helm of a MotoGP bike, being four seconds away. Not sure how true this is but pretty sure that the fast reference times posted by both men were not that of flat out speed, but rather just a guide on the day. There is no ways that after only a day that Rossi would finish only 1.5s off the fastest F1 time set at Valencia and definitely no ways Hamilton would be just 4s off proper MotoGP pace. LEWIS HAMILTON CONFIRMS MOTOGP YAMAHA CRASH AT VALENCIA Lewis Hamilton has confirmed media claims that he crashed the Yamaha MotoGP bike during a swap of disciplines with Rossi. As a relative newcomer to motorcycle racing, taming a prototype machine producing in the region of 270bhp was always going to be difficult, with strong winds at the circuit making it even harder. Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “I had one little spin with it but otherwise brought it back in one piece. I was just step by step learning, but it’s a very steep learning curve.” ROSSI TALKS FUTURE Valentino Rossi ends his current contract with Monster Energy Yamaha in late 2020 and retiring is a possibility. After a hard season this year, the veteran makes his future dependent on being competitive next year. Quoted by, Rossi assumed that the results will dictate his decision, which will have to come quickly next season: “Next year is crucial in deciding my future. Unfortunately, I will have to decide very quickly whether to continue or not. It will depend a lot on the results, we made some changes in the team. We’ll see if we can be faster, otherwise it’s better to end here.” Despite being one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time who holds a whole host of records (well, at least until Marc Marquez breaks them all), Rossi has always had more than a passing interesting in racing cars. He was consistently linked to an F1 drive with Ferrari in the late 2000s after a number of tests and he’s entered rounds of the WRC but, after opting to focus more on his riding, the last major race he competed in was driving a Ferrari in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series. However, a week after the ‘swap’ with Hamilton he marked his four-wheeled racing return when he entered the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi, driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 for Kessel Racing alongside his best mate, Uccio Salucci, and his brother-in-law and Moto2 rider, Luca Marini. After qualifying seventh, the trio made their way up the order to be running fourth overall and second in the Pro-Am category as the race entered its final stages. However, the class-leading Audi (which was running third) was penalised for a pit stop infringement, promoting Rossi and Co. to the overall podium and the win in Pro-Am. Not a bad effort at all for a couple of motorcycle racers! Based on this performance though, it seems like a good bet he’ll finally make that permanent switch to cars. He’s already said that he wants to compete in major endurance races - could we be seeing Rossi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the not too distant future? 22 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE JANUARY 2020 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE JANUARY 2020 23