“Completely different” – The winter challenge of a MotoGP rider
In recent years, more and more MotoGP riders have tried their hand at four-wheel racing, especially with Valentino Rossi’s attempts at endurance racing, rallying and even a few F1 trials for Ferrari.
This trend has only continued in recent years and while there is little or nothing to gain for their MotoGP career, it provides riders with a fun off-season challenge.
VR46 Ducati MotoGP rider Luca Marini believes there is ‘zero that helps with MotoGP’ as he prepares to compete in this weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours endurance race in a GT3 car at the alongside former team manager Uccio Salucci and former GP3 driver who has become a regular in GT David Fumanelli.
But Marini still thinks it will be a “great experience” and also explained how much easier it is to switch from racing bikes to cars, than from racing cars to bikes.
“Of course there is less pressure, but it’s a different kind of pressure,” he explained. “It’s another experience, but a great experience. I’m really happy to be part of this race, with this material, with this team. I would also like to be fast in the cars, to do other races as well, when my schedule gives me the opportunity.
“With cars, it’s easier. Getting within two seconds of the best isn’t easy, but you can do it. But when you have to be one of the fastest, finding the last second or the second and a half is difficult. Like on a motorcycle, arriving in Moto2 and taking two seconds in front of the guys is difficult. In a car it’s easier – you just sit down, you don’t have to move, just play with the throttle, brake, steering wheel.
“And what changes the most for us is the risk, the level of danger. And with a bike, before pushing you have to gain a lot of confidence, but in a car you can push from the start. Everything seems safer, and that changes things a lot.
Marini was originally slated to compete alongside his half-brother and MotoGP boss Valentino Rossi at the event at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit, but that plan took a hit when the nine-time world champion took over. was forced to isolate himself at his home in Italy after coming into contact with a person with COVID-19.
That leaves the task of racing at the event, which the trio won last year in the Pro-Am class, to Marini, Salucci and the late substitute Fumanelli.
“Maybe that is good for concentration because when you have to push and set the lap time you have to be as precise as you are on the bike,” added the 24-year-old rider. “But it’s completely different, nothing really similar.”
But while that doesn’t necessarily make him faster on a Desmosedici, he says it’s still worth the effort to drive Kessel Racing’s Ferrari there because of both the fun they have and the competitive buzz it provides.
And while Rossi may not be part of the squad now, Marini should be confident that they can still be competitive, especially after enjoying a successful day of practice just before the end of the MotoGP season in November.
“We didn’t drive a lot because it rained all morning, he explains about their outing at Misano, and with the wet tires it’s not very useful. We are planning to do the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi and it is very difficult to have rain there. But we did the test just to remember how it felt in the car and to understand if there were any changes from the car we had last year.
“It was a pretty positive day, especially for Uccio to drive the car again and for some to regain the pace a driver needs to have. He stopped racing for several months so it is not as easy for him. But he was really fast in wet conditions especially.
“In the latter part of the day the track dried up and we put on slick tires and the lap time was not as fast as usual. We were a little slower, just so as not to take any risks before the next race.