Rossi dominated the kart race...
Rossi dominated the kart race on Friday night at Wrooom 2012, handily beating Ferrari F1 drivers Felipe Massa and former F1 world champion Fernando Alonso.
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 13 – The question of whether Valentino Rossi would ever win another race was definitively put to rest on Friday night. OK, he was driving a go-kart with studded tires and he was racing on a frozen lake. But he beat nearly Formula One World Champion Felipe Massa and his Ferrari Marlboro teammate, former F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, to end a week when more questions were raised than answered about the 2012 Ducati Marlboro MotoGP effort.
Wrooom is a combination ski vacation and team introduction for both the Ducati and Ferrari teams that are backed by the Phillip Morris tobacco brand Marlboro, as well as the invited media. Press conferences are held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but Friday is for fun. It begins with a ski race (in which Massa and Alonso took part, but not Rossi), goes on to the go-kart race on the goggle-shaped frozen course in the center of the village, and ends with a disco party that goes well into the below-freezing Italian night.
Rossi also finished second...
Rossi also finished second in the Fiat 500 race, with Massa taking the win.
The ice races pit the motorcycle against the car crowd in a pair of four-wheel disciplines, go-karts and Fiat 500s. Most years the grid is evenly split between motorcycle and car racers, but this year the grid was lopsided, with Nicky Hayden sitting out the race while recovering from a broken left scapula. Hayden was replaced by Rossi’s close friend Alessio “Uccio” Salucci. Some wondered why team manager and former World Superbike rider Vito Guareschi wasn’t in the driver’s seat. Regardless, Rossi and Uccio were pitted against Alonso and Massa, plus Ferrari test drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gene. And it would turn out that Uccio had a run of bad luck that made his presence irrelevant. It began when the spark plug broke on his go-kart and ended in the middle of the final corner when he stalled after the transmission in his Fiat 500 packed up. With all the pressure on him, Rossi more than made up for it.
After qualifying on pole, Rossi stormed to the lead in the 15-lap go-kart race and was streaming away when a waving yellow flag was thrown and Ferrari’s new $300,000 FF pace car brought the field in line. When the green was thrown, Rossi quickly gapped the field and beat the Brazilian Massa by 5.316 seconds. Alonso was well back in third.
The way he reacted suggested the win meant something to him. It’s no secret that Rossi hasn’t won much lately. In December he and his co-driver beat eight-time and reigning World Rally Champion Sebastien in two legs of the Monza Rally Show. But Loeb took the overall win with Rossi second. His last MotoGP win came in Malaysia in 2010.
Rossi sprays the champagne...
Rossi sprays the champagne with former F1 world champion Fernando Alonso on the podium.
With one win in his pocket, Rossi readied to pull off the double. Again starting from the pole, he spun the front wheels on his Fiat 500 and jumped into the lead. But instead of disappearing, he was shadowed by Massa from the start. Again a waving yellow flag bunched up the field, this time on the 15th lap, and again Rossi tried to stay in front. But this time Massa snuck up the inside with a clean pass in turn one. As quickly as Massa pulled away it was clear Rossi had been holding him up. The Brazilian won handily with Rossi second and Alonso third.
“Great, great, great,” Rossi said to this reporter as he walked away from the podium. “Fantastic, fantastic. From the go-kart was a great race. I train a a lot with the kart during the summer. And, unfortunately, with the car Filipe (Massa) was faster, but anyway it was a great night.”