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DUBAI: Seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will make his 24H Series debut at this weekend’s Hankook 24H Dubai race as Dubai Autodrome prepares to host the 18th edition of the prestigious event of resistance.

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the event will feature more than 42 teams with 54 cars and 226 different drivers in the GT3, GTX and TCR categories.

The legendary 43-year-old Rossi, who holds a record 89 premier class wins, will be one of the most recognizable faces on the grid with the Italian set to take behind the wheel of Team WRT, a two-time Hankook 24H Dubai. winner.

The Dubai race will be Rossi’s last GT3 career following his retirement from MotoGP in 2021 and he will race alongside 24 Hours of Spa winner and 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Maxime Martin, World Championship driver of Endurance Sean Gelael and the British Tim White, who currently competes in the GT4 European Series.

Speaking of Rossi’s involvement, Faisal Al-Sahlawi, Dubai Autodrome General Manager, said: “Valentino Rossi is an icon when it comes to Grand Prix motorcycling, having had a truly remarkable career spanning over 25 years. , and we are delighted to welcome you to the Dubai Autodrome for the Hankook 24H Dubai race.

“For racing fans, regardless of what discipline they enjoy, this is an unmissable opportunity to see one of the biggest names in the sport in action here in Dubai as he tests himself in one of the world’s greatest endurance races. challengers of the world The fact that he is participating reaffirms how highly rated the Hankook 24H Dubai is, which continues to go from strength to strength.”

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As well as some of the best international drivers taking part, there will also be a mix of Emirati and regional drivers on the track. Khaled Al-Qubaisi of the United Arab Emirates will be part of the Haupt Racing Team, which will try to emulate his class win and overall podium finish from the 2021 edition. Al-Qubaisi, a three-time winner in Dubai, will join the team boss , Sebastian Baud, and two-time Spa 24 Hours winner Jules Gounon on the circuit.

There will also be three UAE-based teams – Rabdan Motorsport (922), Dragon Racing (GT4) and Saalocin Racing (GT3/Pro-Am) – competing over the weekend. Rabdan Motorsport, led by Saif Al-Ameri, will be represented by a line-up of Emirati drivers following their participation last year.

Al-Faisal Al-Zubair for Al-Manar by HRT, whose team includes Axcil Jefferies, who won in 2022 with Team MS7 by WRT and also instructs drivers at Dubai Autodrome when he is not participating, aims to hoist the Oman flag.

The 18th Hankook 24H Dubai will start at 3pm on Saturday 14th January and the race is scheduled to run non-stop until 3pm on Sunday 15th January.

Al-Sahlawi added: “It is fantastic to see such a strong field of drivers and teams taking part in this year’s Hankook 24H Dubai, which has now established itself as one of the most highly anticipated events on the international motorsports calendar. Every year there has been a lot of drama on the circuit with the drivers doing their best in what is a marathon of racing, and this really adds to the excitement of the event. There will be many pilots aiming to make their country proud, including the United Arab Emirates, and we wish them all the best of luck.”

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