Rossi finished in 13th and eighth in a Team WRT Audi R8 in a pair of sprint races in the GT World Challenge Europe on Sunday at Brands Hatch in the UK.

The nine-time motorcycle racing world champion had to steer past a crash which took out three cars on the very first turn of his second outing since retiring from MotoGP.

“In Race 1, I was lucky to escape any problem at first corner and then I basically stayed where I was, Rossi said.

“Race 2 was much better, I am very happy because I sensed a big step forward in my driving and I improved a lot my lap times, especially towards the end of the race, when I was feeling more comfortable with the car and the track. I really enjoyed those final laps!” 

His teammate Frederic Vervisch said: “We scored our first points of the season and are very happy with the performance. 

“We are progressing well, and Vale is learning fast and making big steps. We now need to focus on improving both of us our pace in qualifying.” 

Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse said: “It’s also the first points for Vale and Fred after a very consistent race. 

“Vale really did a big step forward and his lap times at the end of Race 2 were among the best.” 

Rossi and Vervisch finished in P13 with a time of +33.760 then in P8 with a time of +40.216.

His next outing will be 13-15 May at Magny-Cours in France.

Why Rossi races on after retiring from MotoGP

“I always had an idea to race with cars, since when I started with motorcycles," he said on Friday.

“This idea with GT3 helped me to stop with the bikes!

“To stop was very difficult. I drove cars in the past just to improve my skills. 

“I want to be competitive.

“You need something - you need to feel the adrenaline, to remain a driver, to remain on the track, to jump in the car, to wear the helmet.

Rossi warned his new rivals: “The good drivers have a big difference compared to me.

“My lap times were not so bad. But I need to arrive at that performance earlier. I need to improve my skills. I am not far from the top guys but they are faster than me."

The verdict on Rossi from his teammate

Vervisch said about Rossi’s apprenticeship in a new sport: “The best I’ve had so far. I am experienced with driver coaching. 

“What he has done is impressive. He is being modest. You tell him something once, and he does it.

“For him - he tries, it doesn’t work, he says ‘OK, try again’.

“He can do the same as us, or even better. He is just yet to bring it all together.”