As originally reported by MCN two months ago, there will be a new team on the 2019 MotoGP grid, with the Angel Nieto Ducati outfit confirming this morning that they will sell their grid spots to the Sepang International Circuit for 2019.
Speaking in a short statement, the team confirmed the move while also reassuring that team owner Jorge Martinez Aspar will remain involved, saying: “Angel Nieto Racing Team (ANRT) and Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in principle have an agreement by which, from the 2019 MotoGP season, SIC will take over the two MotoGP class entries of the ANRT. Mr Jorge Martínez Aspar will assume the position as the Sporting Advisor to this new MotoGP team.”
This opens the door for a new satellite Yamaha team run by the Sepang circuit and sponsored by oil giant Petronas. The team has been speculated at for some time now, with Franco Morbidelli believed to be set to make the switch from the troubled Marc VDS Honda squad.
Their second rider remains somewhat more shrouded in doubt, with Dani Pedrosa believed for some time to be in line for the spot. However, with a special press conference called for next Thursday’s Sachsenring race where he is expected to announce his retirement, he could well be out of the running.
That could offer a lifeline to Bradley Smith, with the British rider believed to be among the favourites for the seat alongside current Angel Nieto Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista.
UPDATE 0940: Yamaha have confirmed that the team will have M1 machines on a three-year deal, announcing only moments after the original statement that they have linked up with the team for 2019, 2020, and 2021. However, the notice gave no suggestion of what specification of bikes they would be supplying.