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24 Hours of Le Mans

Racing legend 'craziness' prompts 24 Hours of Le Mans safety concerns

Valentino Rossi will compete in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the popular ex-MotoGP rider has gained a considerable amount of attention in the run-up to the event.

Rossi Le Mans
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Valentino Rossi will compete in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans and his popularity has raised safety concerns at the historic race.

The seven-time MotoGP world champion, who traded two wheels for four after the 2021 season, has since been competing in GT racing.

After taking a first win in the discipline, he has made his World Endurance Championship (WEC) debut this season, with Belgium's WRT, which also sees him competing at Le Mans.

Due to his stature in motorsport, he has garnered a lot of attention in the run-up to the event, highlighted by his team-mate, Ahmad Al Harthy, at the #46 entry.

"I've never seen anything like that," he told Motorsport.com after an autograph session raised awareness of potential problems ahead. "It got to a stage where it was a bit uncomfortable.

"You watch big hip-hop artists perform and singers perform and see what it's like when the crowd starts pushing. And I never would have thought I'd see it right in front of my face."

WRT statement on Rossi and safety concerns

It is also something that worries his team more generally, with fans able to find Vale, as Rossi is known by, en masse. 

WRT, therefore, felt it prudent to call on the Le Mans organisers to ensure the safety of team members - and fans.

"The attention that Vale brings is obviously crazy and this we have seen for the past three years. In those three years, there has been no decrease in the attention he brings," WRT team principal Vincent Vosse said in a statement ahead of the traditional driver parade through the nearby town on Friday.

"For the team, in coordination with the series, it means there are some obligations in terms of organisation before each event, and before each activity on site. 

"Our focus, from the moment everything is planned and organised in advance, is that the extra attention, the ‘craziness’ does not impact the way the team operates.

"Vale always spends extra time with his fans. Even when there is no scheduled autograph session, he takes time with his fans and he has done this every day at the tracks for the last three years - for these situations, the team handles the security. Each appearance goes smoothly due to the planning and organisation. 

"As a team, we have two priorities, safety and that we try to please as many fans as possible. When these activities are organised accurately, we can please more people and do it in a safe way. 

"We hope the organisers have taken note of what happened at the autograph session and will take steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved at the driver parade.”

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