Valentino Rossi and his army of VR46 Academy protégés have set themselves the ambitious target of securing victory in all three classes in 2017.
In Moto3, Rossi’s SKY backed team of Andrea Migno and Nicolò Bulega have the potential to fight for the title while in Moto2 his VR46 Academy riders Lorenzo Baldassarri and Rossi’s own brother Luca Marini will be going all out for glory riding for the proven Forward Racing squad.
The 2017 season will also see Rossi’s own team expand in to Moto2, with his same Team SKY set-up he runs in Moto3 now operating in Moto2 with fast Italians Francesco Bagnaia and Stefano Manzi.
There’s also the small matter of the MotoGP crown, which Rossi himself is hoping he can take of. The 37 year old Italian is aiming to lead by example as he sets out to win his tenth world title.
MCN headed to Italy for the launch of the SKY VR46 Moto2 and Moto3 team launches along with the Forward Racing team launch where we met up with Rossi’s right hand man and VR46 Academy boss Uccio Salucci.
Speaking to MCN, he said: “It’s a big year for the team and the Academy, but it’s a big year also for Vale, because it’s possible to win in MotoGP! We could even win four titles this year as we have a team in CEV, but that won’t be easy. We’ll try 100% to do it though. It’s a nice target, and not many people can say that they can try that, but it’s a dream for us. We have the possibility to win, so why not try?
“We have two different stories with Team Sky. For me, Bulega and Migno are ready, and we’ll start Moto3 this year trying to win. In Moto2, we’ll start to learn instead, because it’s our first year in the class.”
Rossi’s VR46 Academy is his long term and ambitious plan to break the ten year Spanish dominance of MotoGP and it’s support classes. It’s Rossi’s aim to develop a new crop of ultra-fast Italians that can progress through the classes and follow in his footsteps in the future.
But while its clear that Rossi’s VR46 Academy is already working, Academy boss Salucci remains humble at its achievements.
“It’s a good moment for Italy, and for sure we’ve helped – but we’re also lucky that a lot of young Italian talent have arrived together because it’s not just because of the VR46 Academy, there are other fast Italians like Di Giannantonio and Bastianini who aren’t a part of it.
“For sure for many of them when they were young they watched Valentino winning on TV, and he’s important to it, an idol to them. But he’s also 200% engaged with the project, he works every day with the guys, and if they’re clever they should follow his example!