MotoGP: Aramco Racing Team VR46 sign three-year deal with Ducati
Valentino Rossi's Aramco Racing Team VR46 team will be a Ducati satellite outfit when they join the MotoGP grid next season.
The Tavullia based team has signed a three-year team with the Italian manufacturer, whilst Rossi's team has also penned a five-year deal with Dorna to compete in the premier class until at least the end of 2026.
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The confirmation of a deal with Ducati ends speculation of any continued partnership between Rossi and Yamaha, whilst hopes of a Suzuki satellite team are also over...at least for now. Aramco Racing Team VR46 will run two Desmocedici bikes, taking the grid spots of the departing Avintia team, although it's not yet known which spec will be available to the team.
It's expected that Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini will be one of the riders. Marini is currently riding in the premier class for the Avintia Ducati team, albeit in SKY Racing Team VR46 colours. VR46 Academy rider Marco Bezzecchi, who rider for Team VR46 in Moto2, has been linked with the second seat if Rossi opts to retire at the end of the 2021 season.
Pablo Nieto, current team boss of the VR46 Moto3 and Moto3 teams, will be promoted to the MotoGP squad.
"We are happy to announce that in 2022 we will race in MotoGP with a team of two riders in the colours of the VR46,"Alessio Salucci, from the VR46 Riders Academy, said. "A journey that began a little over eight years ago with the birth of the VR46 Riders Academy, a beautiful adventure shared with Sky, a long, demanding journey, but full of satisfactions and which makes us very proud. This milestone has a truly unique meaning, but it is not an arrival point.
"Year after year, since 2013, we have grown, we have managed to write beautiful pages of our sport between Moto3 and Moto2 and we crossed our path with many young talents of Italian motorcycling that we have had the privilege of being able to support in their growth path and that we will continue to support from the classes lower up to the MotoGP.
"A key moment in our history that would not be it was possible without Carmelo Ezpeleta who has always believed in this project and to Ducati for the trust he has placed in us for the future.”
Hey there, it’s not a double vision! We’ll need a bigger garage soon— Sky Racing Team VR46 (@SkyRacingTeam) June 24, 2021
The 2022 mission is officially taking shape and we’re glad to carry on our journey together with @ducaticorse ❤️
•#SkyVR46Avintia #MotoGP #DucatiCorse pic.twitter.com/aUcPcjRSLO
Rossi's decision to join forces with Ducati means that there will be eight Desmocedicis on the 2022 MotoGP grid. Gresini Racing will run GP21 machinery next season following their return as a sole independent team after several years running within the Aprilia team. Pramac Racing will continue to run the latest-spec bikes (2022) next season.
“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with VR46 for the next three years," Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager, added. "Their Academy has always worked seriously and with great professionalism, giving many riders the opportunity to gain experience in Moto2 and Moto3, and today they can be proud to have brought three young riders of great talent.
"VR46 has also shown that it is able to competently manage a successful team in Moto3 and Moto2 and therefore we will strive to provide the maximum technical support to their new team in MotoGP, convinced they have found in VR46 an ambitious and motivated partner like us, with a common goal to achieve great results together.”
Title sponsors Aramco came onboard earlier this year as part of the partnership between VR46 and Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media.
Valentino Rossi is set to decide on his future during the summer break, which begins after this weekend's Dutch Grand Prix at Assen. It's been a tough year for the nine-time world champion, with Rossi only managing a best result of 10th at Mugello.
As a result of the deal between VR46 and Ducati, it's likely that Yamaha will extend their partnership with the Petronas team. Since joining the grid in 2019, the team has secured nine victories, 13 further podiums and 17 poles with Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli. Aprilia and Suzuki will have no satellite options available to them next season.