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Rossi begins Rally GB with number 46

Rossi begins Rally GB with number 46

MotoGP World Champion to use customary number as WRC guest appearance begins.

Valentino Rossi may be in the confines of a Ford Focus car at this weekend´s WRC Rally GB event, but the 2008 MotoGP World Champion will be recognisable to motorcycle fans due to his customary number 46´s adorning the four wheeled machine.

Rossi began his latest guest rally appearance in a shakedown test on Thursday, placing 17th out of 21 riders in the Penllergaer Forest stage. The Italian today (Friday) begins the Rally GB proper, with the first stage taking place at Hafren. A further seven stages will follow, racking up a total of around 124 kilometres.

Rossi is using the number 46, which he has run throughout his racing career, after a charitable donation from Finnish driver Jari Ketomaa (the regular owner of the number in the WRC season). Ketomaa will instead use 146 this weekend.

`It was very important for me to get number 46 - Jari was very fair to give me the number,´ said Rossi on the Finn´s generosity. `I was car 46 on the two rallies I have done previously and I´ve never ridden a motorbike or driven a car in an official race without it.´

The Fiat Yamaha rider tested the Stobart-backed car before the recent Jerez test, although he does not feel totally prepared for the event in Wales. `We have only done one day of testing in the UK, about three weeks ago, and that´s not a lot, so our testing will continue in the race. We need to make a few kilometres to understand the car, and then we´ll see,´ he analyses.

`My goal is to have fun and finish. At the end of New Zealand (his previous rally runout, in 2006) in some stages I was about two seconds per kilometre off (WRC star) Marcus Gronholm´s pace. My target is to try and get as close to the leaders again here.´

Rossi recently finished runner-up in the annual Monza Rally event in his native Italy.

MotoGP, 2008, Valentino Rossi

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