Valentino Rossi bids farewell to MotoGP with Valencia top-10, celebrities worldwide join in

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Valentino Rossi’s statistics could speak for themselves, but in his 372nd and final top-level start of a storied career spanning more than a quarter of a century, he finished 10th one final time in the Valencia Grand Prix and showed he could still contend with the best MotoGP riders in the world even as he bid them farewell.

“I’m very happy. I didn’t expect there could be a weekend like this,” Rossi said in the interview at the top of this post. “It’s always very emotional.

“I received a lot of surprises on Thursday. Also today: all of the riders from the (VR 46) academy used my helmets. I received a lot of respect, a lot of support from the other riders from MotoGP.

“I’m also very happy I was strong. I was quite fast during the week there. Today was a good race. I enjoyed it a lot and today was the best way to finish.”

Rossi’s announcement he would retire earlier this year before the running of the Styrian GP was not particularly surprising. Racing longer than many of the drivers he competed against have been alive is no small task – and he had nothing else to prove.

In his legendary career, Rossi earned nine World Championships, 115 victories and 235 podiums in 414 starts across all classes entering the weekend. With one championship in the 250 class, another in 125s and seven in the top division, Rossi is the only rider in history to win in all three divisions. A total of 89 wins came in the elite class.

The week following his announcement, Rossi finished eighth in Austria, one second behind eventual champion Fabio Quartararo.

He earned one more top-10 in the Grand Prix of Romagna, but fell outside that mark in the penultimate race and felt a little pressure in the finale.

“This result will remain forever,” Rossi said. “I can say that in my last race, I am still in the top 10.”

And Rossi did not have to speak for himself.

Celebrities in the world of sports and entertainment lined up celebrate his career and wish Rossi well on the next stage of his life.

Hosted by Keanu Reaves, some of the greatest athletes on two and four wheels that included Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Jimmie Johnson, Chad Reed and Travis Pastrana bid him farewell along with Tom Cruise and Chris Helmsworth.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.