MotoGP star Valentino Rossi overcame a ten-second penalty to claim a record-breaking sixth victory at the 2017 Monza Rally Show.

The Italian received the punishment after stage two when his 2016-spec Ford Fiesta RS WRC being found to be 7kg underweight.

Inspired by his 2003 Phillip Island MotoGP victory after a similar penalty, Rossi and co-driver Carlo Cassina battled their way through the nine icy stages to top the overall standings by 5.7 seconds from Norwegian WRC star Andreas Mikkelsen, driving a Hyundai NG i20.

Italian sports car racer Marco Bonanomi (Citroen DS3) was relegated to third after a late mistake.

Rossi's victory at the 38th edition of the historic Monza Rally Show - which dates back to the 7th December 1938 - makes him the most successful driver in its history, ahead of five-time winner and endurance racer Rinaldo Capello.

“This was one of the most hard fought Monza Rallies that I have raced at, because there were four cars able to win, and everybody was close right up until the end," Rossi said.

"Unfortunately the team made a small mistake with the weight of the car on Friday. We didn’t calculate for the lights on the front of the car. It was a stupid mistake!

"When I stopped after stage two and they said I was under weight and I got a 10 second penalty - I said it was over. But I gave it maximum attack and risked a lot, especially in the second to last stage. It’s a shame to not get the Master’s stage result [won by Mikkelsen], but for me the [overall] is more important, so I’m happy!"

Rossi had arrived at the event fresh from his final MotoGP test of the year at Sepang in Malaysia.

"The Monza Rally Show is always great fun, because it’s a real race where you can drive these types of cars fast – but at the end you can enjoy it too with less pressure at the end of the season," he said.

"All the team is very happy because after this week we start our winter holiday and there’s always a great atmosphere. To enjoy it, you still have to try your maximum, and the challenge is very difficult and the level his very high. Especially in the last few years the event has grown up a lot, and there are real rally drivers here now to have a lot of fun competing against."

Other impressive two-wheel performances were by Motocross legend Toni Cairoli, who claimed fourth overall (Hyundai), plus Moto2 race winner Mattia Pasini in ninth (Ford Fiesta).

Rossi's close friend Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci was 13th in a Citroen, just ahead of Roberto Brivio in a Hyundai.

Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini also made his debut at the Monza Rally Show this year. The 20-year-old, who piloted a R5 class Ford Fiesta, finished 11th in class and 26th overall on his first competitive four-wheel appearance.

"Of course driving with the Brivios and Uccio is very funny; because you can talk a lot about the technical things but at the same time still make a lot of jokes if you’re faster or slower than them!" said Rossi.

"This year I also have my brother Luca because he came to me and said 'I want to come, I want to come’ so I organised it. He’s fast, he’s enjoying it, and I think he’ll keep doing it in the future.

"We speak a lot, with Davide and Uccio but especially with Luca, to try and share the secrets. It’s his first experience with a rally car and he’s already fast so I’m happy and he’s happy. But the contract is that he can be fast but not as fast as me!”

Marini, who is switching to the official VR46 team in Moto2 next season, said:

“The most important result is that I had a lot of fun this weekend! The car is incredible and was very very fast and challenging to drive. Also my times weren’t so bad. On Friday I think I was a little bit too excited and I lost some time by making small mistakes, but after that things settled down for me. I finished 11th in my class and 26th overall, which I am very happy about.

"In the Masters Show I took the chequered flag – and wanted to put on a small show for the fans. I took the corner at the wrong speed and when I pulled the handbrake I touched the tyre barrier and had a small crash! My brother told me that if you don’t do this in the Masters Show during your first year, then you are not a rally driver.

"I just hope to be here next year now. I need to talk with my boss – my brother – about coming again and maybe bringing a WRC car instead of an R5!”

Earlier in the weekend, Rossi reiterated his intentions to race on four-wheels once he retires from MotoGP.


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