Photography By: Henny Ray Abrams
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 13 – A win’s a win and it’s been a long time coming.
Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi beat Ferrari Marlboro Formula One drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso in a flag to flag romp to win the go-kart race on the frozen lake on a chilled night at the conclusion of Wrooom 2012, the combined Ducati/Ferrari team intro. Minutes later he hopped in his Fiat 500 and led most of that race, only to get passed by Massa in the closing laps.
“Great, great, great,” Rossi said when asked how it felt to win again. “Fantastic, fantastic. From the go-kart was a great race. I train a a lot with the kart during the summer. And, unfortunately, with the car Filipe [Massa] was faster, but anyway it was a great night.”
The race that concludes the week pits the car against the motorcycle guys. This year Rossi was alone in representing the two-wheel crowd while teammate Nicky Hayden recovers from a broken left scapula. Hayden, who won the go-kart race here two years ago, wanted to race, but said that his recovery was more important than some fun on the ice.
“I’m happy to be here,” Hayden said on Italian television. “Next year I’ll come back for a trophy.”
Hayden was replaced by Alessio “Uccio” Salucci, Rossi’s close friend, who didn’t finish either race. A spark plug broke on his kart and he had transmission problems in his car. In addition to Massa and Alonso, the four-wheel world was represented by Ferrari test drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gene.
After qualifying on the pole in his Ferrari red and Rossi yellow go-kart, Rossi jumped into the lead and was never seriously challenged. Alonso had a mishap in the early going that put him out of the running and Massa had to pass Fisichella before he could think amount mounting a challenge on Rossi.
Rossi’s lead was negated on the fourth lap when a waving yellow was thrown and the karts lined up behind the Ferrari FF on the fourth of 15 laps. But as soon as the Ferrari pulled off, Rossi took off while Alonso tangled with Fisichella, putting them both out of contention.
That left Rossi on his own and he sped to victory, his first since the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix. Rossi and his co-driver won two legs of the Monza Rally Show this year, but finished second overall to Sebastien Loeb.
The margin of victory over Massa was 5.316 seonds., with Alonso recovering to take third at 22.739 seconds.
Rossi was out front for most of the Fiat 500 race, but, again, the pace car negated his lead when it came out on the 15th of 25 laps. When the Ferrari pulled off, Rossi had Massa and Alonso pressing. Massa made his move up the inside in turn one starting the 18th lap.
With a clear track ahead, Massa was able to pulled out over a second on his first flying lap in the lead, which he stretched to 2.462 seconds at the end. Alonso was third at 3.656 seconds