Seven time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will compete in the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza on 13-15 April at the wheel of a Ferrari.

The Italian will race with the usual #46 on his 458 Italia for the Kessel Racing team in the VR46-Monster colours. He will be partnered by friend Alessio Salucci in the Pro-Am Cup class.

"We really decided on the last minute to participate in the Blancpain Endurance Series event in Monza and to race in partnership with my friend Uccio is a very big pleasure," said the Ducati MotoGP rider.

Stephane Ratel, promoter of the Blancpain Endurance Series, is delighted to have secured Rossi's participation.

"For many years I have been saying that from all of the world-class drivers and riders, the one I would most like to welcome in GT racing is Valentino Rossi," Ratel said.

"He is the ultimate motorsport hero and we must hope he will consider joining our championships on a more regular manner at some point in his outstanding career.

"At Monza, in a Ferrari, we could not have expected a better combination to make the event a success. Welcome Valentino."

The first round of the 2012 season will feature an entry list of 60 sportscars from 11 brands - Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Dodge, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche.

Rossi will be up against a host of famous names including Le Mans 24 Hour winner David Brabham, former F1 stars Mark Blundell and Karl Wendlinger along with several sportscar and endurance specialists.

The event programme includes Pre-Qualifying on Friday, Qualifying on Saturday ahead of the three-hour Race starting at 14:15 local time on Sunday.

Rossi, who has tested Ferrari F1 cars and raced in the WRC, is taking part in the opening event of the 2012 MotoGP season at Qatar this weekend.