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Rossi reacts to first laps at ‘mythical’ Bathurst

VALENTINO Rossi’s first flying laps of Mount Panorama were worth the 20-year wait, according to the Bathurst 12 Hour rookie.

The nine-time motorcycle world champion topped his first session at the circuit on Friday, pipping Brad Schumacher in Practice 2.

The session was predominantly for Bronze category drivers, with Silver-ranked Rossi permitted to take part due to his status as a Bathurst rookie.

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Speaking with media afterwards, Rossi said he’d enjoyed his first real-world drive of the circuit.

“Already before I know I (was going to) race here, we always played in the sim with Mount Panorama,” Rossi said.

“To be here in Mount Panorama after 20 years of (racing it in) sims is an emotion, when you see the track for the first time.

“It’s one of the mythical tracks, so from the PlayStation to iRacing now, I make a lot of laps.

“The track is very impressive, it’s something different. I feel good with the car, I have a good feeling and I have good grip (and) I can push.

“It’s very difficult, very technical, but also very great fun when you drive.”

Valentino Rossi topped Practice 2 at the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour. Pic: Ross Gibb

Rossi cited the fast section of Reid Park, Sulman Park and McPhillamy Park, plus the run down the hill over Skyline and the Esses to the Dipper as his favourite sections, but was wary of the walls lining the run across the top of the Mountain.

“You have two different tracks; (at the bottom) it’s a normal track, and the Mountain is different,” Rossi said.

“Every lap you want to try to make a little bit more (speed) but the walls are there – I always keep five centimetres!

“You have to take a bit of margin because if you make a mistake, it’s a big problem.”

When asked if he’d have liked the track as much on a motorcycle compared to the car, Rossi, familiar with Bathurst’s two-wheel racing history, said: “I think it’s impossible.

“Jerry (Burgess) and Gary (Coleman), my guys of the team (in MotoGP), raced here in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

“With the bike you need more space, more run off area. If you make a mistake it’s a big problem (so) for me it’s better with the cars.

“At the end, I think this track is not so different compared to Phillip Island (where) you have a lot of space and no walls, but the design is similar.

“I think the (thrill of) MotoGP at Phillip Island is a little bit more than in the M4 here in Mount Panorama, but it’s not so far apart.

“Here you have a lot of adrenaline when you drive, also because you have to try to make everything good without making any mistakes; with the bike you are outside so you feel more the speed.

“From points of view is different but from points of view is very similar, so we can put more or less on the same level.”

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