MOTO GP legend Valentino Rossi will return to the Repco Bathurst 12 Hour in 2024 for a second attempt at Australia’s International Enduro.
After making a spectacular Australian debut on four wheels last year, Rossi returns as part of a strong two-car attack entered by BMW Team WRT, who have entered a pair of BMW M4 GT3s for the second consecutive year.
Rossi will be joined in Car #46 by 2023 copilot Maxime Martin and new BMW M Motorsport factory driver, Raffaele Marciello.
The sister car will be the same that finished fourth outright in the 2023 event, driven by Sheldon van der Linde, 2018 Bathurst winner Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts.
BMW M Team WRT finished fourth and sixth outright in the 2023 race in a strong debut for the BMW M4 GT3 on Australian soil, and for the team as a factory-supported outfit for the iconic German brand.
Their successful season also included victories in the Dubai 24 Hour plus rounds of the Intercontinental GT Challenge including the Kyalami 9 Hours and Indianapolis 8 Hours enduros.
BMW are yet to claim victory in the international era of the Bathurst 12 Hour, however, have a pair of Allan Simonsen Pole Awards to their credit, while the brand claimed victory on two occasions during the race’s Production Car era with privateer entrants.
“The Bathurst 12 Hour is a spectacular event to start the year with, and we are delighted to field another strong line-up in Australia in 2024,” said Andreas Roos, Head of BMW Motorsport.
“Together with BMW M Team WRT, we enjoyed many fantastic successes in our first season. Unfortunately, we were denied a Bathurst podium. We obviously want to make amends for that this time. With our driver line-up, I believe we are in an excellent position to enjoy a strong race. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Raffaele Marciello in a BMW M4 GT3 for the first time.”
Rossi’s 2023 Australian debut on four wheels drew hordes of his supporters to Bathurst last year.
The Italian legend didn’t disappoint either, running extremely competitively and ultimately finishing in sixth position outright, despite a late additional pit stop to repair an electrical issue on his #46 BMW.
He will be joined by 12-Hour fan favorite Raffaele Marciello this year, the Swiss driver making his debut as a factory BMW driver on the Mountain this February.
Marciello has a remarkable track record in four prior 12-hour starts, including finishing second in 2018 and third in both 2020 and 2023. He also scored the Allan Simonsen Pole Award in 2019.
“Bathurst is a very special place for me – the perfect first race with BMW M Motorsport,” he said.
“I love the circuit and have come very close to winning on a few occasions. Unfortunately, it has never quite worked out so far. However, I believe I have a good chance to change all that this year with BMW M Team WRT. WRT is one of the best teams in the world, and my team-mates Maxime and Valentino are extremely quick.
“Sharing the car with Vale is very special for me. I watched him in MotoGP when I was a kid.”
BMW Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse said his team was looking forward to returning to the iconic Mount Panorama circuit – a place where his team has tasted prior success.
“What an event to kick off our second season with BMW M Motorsport! We are very much looking forward to returning to Bathurst; this will be our third start there.
“After taking victory on our debut, we were unfortunately unable to challenge for first place again last year. We are now back for another shot with a fantastic squad of drivers.”
The Repco Bathurst 12 Hour will be held across the 16-18 February weekend and will kick off the Bathurst SuperFest, a 10-day festival of motorsport in the region that concludes with the Thrifty Bathurst 500 – the opening round of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship.