Petronas SRT Yamaha MotoGP racer Franco Morbidelli will sample competitive rallying for the first time after announcing he will contest the World Rally Championship season-ending Monza Rally event next month.
The Italian will contest the all-tarmac rally behind the wheel of a Hyundai I20 run to R5 regulations in the WRC3 class, though it is so far unclear as to who his co-driver will be.
Morbidelli’s opportunity to take part in his first competitive rally came about due to Petronas SRT sponsor Withu, the fitness company that also backs Hyundai Team Italy driver Umberto Scandola’s WRC3 campaign.
Morbidelli took part in a promotional event in Tuscany alongside Scandola and Hyundai WRC factory driver Dani Sordo back in June, an event that has ultimately led to his maiden WRC chance.
He will undergo a short test ahead of the four-day event that runs from the 3rd-6th of December, with Scandola in attendance in order to assist Morbidelli in getting up to speed as quickly as possible.
“I am electrified by the chance of taking part in a real round of the World Rally Championship,” said Morbidelli.
“This is going to be an amazing chance to be among the best drivers in the world and compete in a different sport.
“This is going to be good fun, though I will have to learn quickly a lot of details and it is not going to be easy to adapt to two added wheels in such a short time.
“These are chances that happen a few times over a lifetime. I will follow a crash course from Umberto Scandola to reach the first test as ready as possible.”
The Monza Rally event was added to the WRC calendar as its finale in early October after the Ypres rally was cancelled as a result of a Covid-19 spike in Belgium ahead of the contest.
The MotoGP season finale at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal takes place this weekend, allowing Morbidelli two weeks to focus fully on preparing for his rally debut.
He enters the Portuguese Grand Prix as runner-up in the riders standings, though just four points clear of Suzuki ace Alex Rins.
Morbidelli has secured three victories across the shortened 14-round ’20 premier class campaign, though his title chances were brought to an end after the second Suzuki entry of Joan Mir secured his maiden title with a measured run to seventh in last weekend’s Valencia GP.