Valentino Rossi may have been absent from the MotoGP podium since April, but the nine-time world champion completed 2019 on the rostrum - alongside brother Luca Marini and friend Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci in the Gulf 12 Hours sportscar race.

The trio took their Monster VR46 Kessel Ferrari 488 to class victory in the 'Pro-Am' class, but Rossi was most thrilled to finish third overall, behind only a pair of 'Pro' class Audi R8s.

"We are very happy with this result. We are first in our category, but to make third in the overall classification is a great satisfaction," said Rossi, whose most recent MotoGP rostrum was at Austin.

"I immediately felt at home with the car and with the team, but above all it was great fun. Luca was really strong, his potential in the race amazed me. I had already seen him at the Monza rally, but today he further confirmed this.

"The team also saw a great performance by Uccio, who with this result achieved one of his life-long dreams."

Rossi, who began the week driving an F1 Mercedes at Valencia alongside Lewis Hamilton, was the team's fastest driver in qualifying with their average lap time good enough for seventh on the grid.

The 12-hour battle was divided into two six-hour stints, around the same Yas Marina circuit that hosted the recent F1 season finale.

Despite losing some ground at the start, the VR46 car finished the opening six-hours in sixth position and first in class. The second part then saw some of the Pro cars suffer technical problems, leaving a battle between the #46 Ferrari and fellow Pro-Am class #5 Audi for the final podium place.

Rossi took over from Marini for the final stint and, despite a five-second penalty, kept well clear of their main rival, handing the VR46 trio their first endurance podium.

Ex-grand prix racer Loris Capirossi - also steering a Kessel Racing Ferrari - finished seventh overall, and second in the 'AM' category, alongside team-mates Alexis de Bernardi and Niki Cadei.

 

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