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New challenge awaits Rossi at Valencia 26 Jan 2006

(L to R): Valentino Rossi (ITA) MotoGP World Champion is interviewed by Mick Doohan (AUS) 
Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 7 March 2004

Media speculation connecting Valentino Rossi with a possible move to Formula One racing will step up a gear next week when the MotoGP champion tests for Ferrari at Valencia. Although Rossi has tested for the Italian team before, it will be the first time he has participated in a multi-team session.

Ferrari begin their three-day programme at the Spanish circuit on Tuesday, with Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa expected to continue their 2006 preparations with the new 248 F1 and the team’s hybrid V8 F2004 machine. Rossi, who is familiar with Valencia from his bike racing, will most likely be at the wheel of an original V10 F2004.

That was the car in which the flamboyant Italian had first Formula One outing when he tested at Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit back in April 2004. That was followed by another two days at the same track last August and a further session at the team’s Mugello facility in November.

Rossi, who has won the MotoGP title for the past five years and taken seven world championships in total, is contracted to Yamaha for the 2006 season, but that hasn’t stopped endless press stories linking him to a future Ferrari race seat as and when Schumacher eventually retires.

Incidentally, it was Ferrari who took John Surtees to the Formula One drivers’ title back in 1964. The Briton remains the only man to win world championships at the highest level on both two and four wheels.