Press Release – October 11, 2022
French motorbike racer Louis Rossi, who hung up his leathers in April after a successful career in MotoGP and endurance racing, is now pursuing his apprenticeship on four wheels. He will debut in the Ligier European Series next weekend, on 14 and 15 October, behind the wheel of a Ligier JS P4 sports prototype on the Portimão circuit in Portugal. His ultimate goal is to compete in his maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023.
Louis Rossi is in the midst of a career change. The Frenchman has raced motorbikes for the past 17 years, from the feeder series’ to Moto3 and Moto2, then in the World Endurance Championship, with many accolades earned along the way. In 2012, Louis won the French Grand Prix in his home town of Le Mans, making him the last Frenchman to have triumphed at Le Mans. In 2018, he finished runner-up in the world championship with the Suzuki Junior Team, then joined the ranks of the official BMW and Ducati teams and again returned to the podiums. At the same time, he has worked as an analyst for Canal + on the Moto2, Moto3 and MotoGP Grand Prix weekends.
In September 2021, Louis suffered an accident during the Bol d’Or meeting, which left him immobilised in hospital for a month. A few months later, he decided to end his motorbike career. While the accident undoubtedly pushed him to “move on”, one thing is sure: the rider eventually would have swapped his handlebars for a steering wheel.
“As a matter of fact, I had wanted to do car racing for a while”, confides Louis Rossi. “I wanted to move on to something else and jump into a car. Doing the 24 Hours of Le Mans is my dream, my ambition. Everything started at Le Mans for me! Born in Le Mans, I took my first motorbike podium and won my first Grand Prix at Le Mans. I participated in the 24 Heures Moto six times. All that is missing is the 24 Hours of Le Mans! I have attended the race as a spectator for years, with so much desire. So I said, ‘Stop! The time has come to do it.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans in the sights for 2023
And Louis Rossi is not afraid of anything, as he has set himself the goal of competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2023. Ambitious but methodical, he has prepared a tailor-made training programme. In June, he took part in his first car race at the Nogaro circuit behind the wheel of a Lamera. It was a successful debut with a runner-up finish in race 1 and third place in race 2. In July, he was back in the driver’s seat, but this time in a sports prototype, a CN, for the Misano round of the Ultimate Cup Series, resulting in another podium, with third place in his category.
“It was at Misano, driving the CN, that I discovered aerodynamic downforce,” explains Louis Rossi. “It is much more like my riding style. It has allowed me to reorientate myself towards the sports prototype category rather than GT, but I’m not closing any doors.”
A taste of the ACO championships with the Ligier European Series
In just a few days, on 14 and 15 October, Louis Rossi will embark on his assault on the endurance pyramid with a debut race in the Ligier European Series. The series, organised by Le Mans Endurance Management on the same weekends as the Michelin Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans Series, is the gateway to the world of endurance racing. Mixing sports prototypes and GT cars from French constructor Ligier Automotive, the JS P4 and JS2 R, the series allows drivers to discover endurance and ACO competitions with affordable racing cars.
His new machinery: the Ligier JS P4, 385 horsepower for 920 kg
And so it is quite naturally at the wheel of a Ligier JS P4 sports prototype that Louis Rossi will be competing in the championship finale at the Portimão circuit in Portugal. With 385 horsepower and a weight of 920 kg, the JS P4 is the little sister of the constructor’s LMP3s (the Ligier JS P3 and JS P320). Louis Rossi will share the #33 Ligier JS P4 of Jack Leconte’s team Les Deux Arbres with Jacques Nicolet.
“I’m looking forward to continuing my learning curve with my first race in an ACO championship,” said Louis Rossi. “I’m super excited to be racing in a new series with a new car. As with my other two car outings, I’m starting from scratch. I will see the car for the first time when I arrive at the Portimão circuit on Thursday. I’m ready to learn everything. I hope to get a good result. And why not my first victory in car racing?”
Louis Rossi will face stiff competition with a field of 20 cars divided between the two categories, teams with five rounds under their belts, and drivers from across the world.
Follow Louis Rossi live on the Algarve rollercoaster:
Like all the other meetings, the sixth and final heat of the Ligier European Series will take place on Friday and Saturday. Louis Rossi will be in the #33 Ligier JS P4 at 9:30 am on Friday, 14 October in the first 40-minute free practice session. The second session will take place at 2 pm. The two fifteen-minute qualifying sessions at 4:10 pm and 4:35 pm will set the starting grids for the two races. Each driver will do a qualifying session and start the race for which he has qualified.
The two one-hour races will be run on Saturday at 9:15 am and 3:15 pm, with a driver change during the mandatory pit stop window between the 27th and 34th minute. Both races will be streamed live on the series’ website, YouTube and Facebook channels with commentary in French and English.
CLICK HERE for the provisional entry list
CLICK HERE for the Portimão Heat programme