Valentino Rossi picked up the BMW M Award yesterday for being the best qualifier over the season’s 17 Moto GP races, his prize – a brand new BMW M3 Saloon which joins the four other BMWs that Rossi has won.

Rossi was invited to experience some fast laps in the new M3 GTS, but in the end he wanted to drive it. The nine times MotoGP champion took to the Valencia track in the lightweight M3 GTS together with MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta in the passenger seat. Rossi was supposed to stop at the end of his first lap, but he decided to do another lap even more quickly.

Rossi was eventually prised out of the M3 GTS so that he could be presented with his M3 Saloon, but said, “It was amazing in the GTS. Just amazing. It was great, especially under braking with the light weight that it has.” In fact Rossi was already enquiring about how he could get hold of one for himself, but apparently there have already been more than 300 serious enquiries about the car since it’s launch three days ago.

Thomas Schemera, the Director of Sales and Marketing for BMW M Power who handed over the keys of the M3 to Rossi said, “It was our intention for Valentino to have a seat in the M3 GTS, but in the end he wanted to drive it, so he did! I think he is very convinced about the features and the abilities of the car and we would be very happy to let him have one of the hand built cars that echoes the iconic 3.0 CSL racer from the mid 70s.”

BMW will continue to supply Safety Cars, Official Cars and VIP Shuttles to the Moto GP series until 2013, using vehicles from BMW’s M Power stable.

Rossi finished 2nd in today’s Moto GP round in Valencia, followed home by team mate Jorge Lorenzo. Spain’s Dani Pedrosa won this final race of the 2009 season.

Photos courtesy of BMW & Moto GP.