Back in December, 2022, we told you that Valentino Rossi had just signed with BMW ahead of the 2023 racing season. That is, of course, the BMW M Motorsports team. If you haven’t kept up with Rossi’s career since his retirement from MotoGP, it also means that Rossi is now racing on four wheels, not two. While he did the GT World Challenge last year, 2023 marks the first time that he’s taking on the Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race.
For those unfamiliar, the Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race takes place at the beautiful Mount Panorama circuit, which is located in New South Wales, Australia. Even though it’s not motorcycle racing, I’ve been watching it on and off for years—and it’s almost always entertaining (if you like racing, anyway). Since it’s Australia, random kangaroos occasionally make appearances—but that’s nothing terribly surprising if you’ve watched MotoGP at Phillip Island.
Anyway, the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour starts today, February 3, and runs through February 5. With the time difference, some practice sessions have already taken place. How are things going so far for Rossi on his first Bathurst weekend? Well, as it turns out. In Free Practice session two, in fact, Rossi topped the time charts.
The session was supposed to be limited to FIA bronze-level drivers (essentially amateur racers, since Bathurst is a pro-am event), but officials allowed Rossi, who is a silver-level driver, to participate as well. It’s not clear if they made this choice because it’s his first time at Bathurst, but regardless of the reasoning behind their decision, it’s what they did—and Rossi, in turn, made the most of the opportunity. Although it may be Rossi’s first Bathurst, he’s obviously not any type of amateur at racing strategy and track analysis.
For those of us who aren’t in Australia, there’s an official livestream on YouTube that you can watch if you want to keep up with all the racing action. At the time of writing, qualifying hasn’t happened yet. So, if you, like me, are hunkering down with warm drinks and snacks (away from the frozen tundra outside), you have a whole weekend of racing to look forward to.
If you want to watch it live, the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour Qualifying session starts on February 3, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. ET. From there, the Pole Shootout is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET, just a few hours later. Finally, the Bathurst 12 Hour race itself is scheduled to start on February 4, 2023, at 11:30 a.m. ET. You can see all three livestreams on the GTWorld YouTube channel, which we’ll link in our Sources. If you want to receive notifications when each of those livestreams is about to go live, you can do so at that link for an extra nudge.
Sources: GT World on YouTube, Motorsport.com