Three-time MotoGP race winner Franco Morbidelli will take part in next month’s World Rally Championship finale at Rally Monza with Hyundai Rally Team Italia.
WRC organisers announced earlier this year its coronavirus-affected 2020 season would be brought to a close on 3-6 December with the ACI Rally Monza event.
Rally Monza has typically featured MotoGP legend and Morbidelli’s mentor Valentino Rossi, who has won the event seven times over the years.
Morbidelli will take part in the WRC finale in the WRC3 class in a Hyundai i20 R5.
“I am electrified by the chance of taking part in a real round of the World Rally Championship,” Morbidelli said.
“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.
“When Matteo Ballarin [WITHU President] called me I did not think twice about it.
“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”.
Hyundai Rally Team Italia boss Riccardo Scandola added: “ACI Rally Monza is probably going to be the most followed moment of the whole WRC season and a historical moment for this discipline.
“Our program in WRC with WITHU changed often due to the reasons that we all know but ending the season in Monza also with Franco Morbidelli in the team is going to be extraordinary.
“We are working hard to allow Franco to get some confidence with what is going to be his office for four days.
“His approach at the Riders Meet Rally has been very analytic and precise.
“This is going to be a big challenge for the whole team, but I am pretty sure that it will also be good fun.”
Morbidelli’s third season in MotoGP has been a breakout campaign, with the Petronas SRT rider scoring three victories – equal with his team-mate Fabio Quartararo – and doing so on the 2019-spec Yamaha.
The Italian comes into the final round of the 2020 MotoGP season second in the standings and ended Friday’s practice in Portugal 10th overall.
Mentor Rossi had not ruled out competing at the Monza Rally when it was first announced as the WRC finale, but said at the time he had no plans to take part.
Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th