MotoGP: Aprilia and RNF Racing join forces for 2023 satellite team

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Aprilia will field four bikes in MotoGP next season after agreeing a two-year satellite team deal with RNF Racing.

The two-year deal includes an option to renew for a further two seasons, and is the first of its kind for Aprilia in MotoGP.

The news comes a day after the factory Aprilia team re-signed Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales for the next two seasons. Aprilia have turned their MotoGP project around spectacularly in the last 18 months, going from back markers to race winners and in Espargaro, genuine title contenders.

Espargaro secured Aprilia’s, and his, maiden victory in Argentina and is currently on a run of three consecutive podiums. The Spaniard is second in the championship, only four points behind Fabio Quartararo.

Romano Albesiano, Massimo Rivola. Aleix Espargaro, and Maverick Vinales

“I am happy to announce the agreement with RNF Racing,” Aprilia Racing CEO, Massimo Rivola said. “We have always reasoned in small steps and as we demonstrate the competitiveness of our RS-GP, a natural part of the journey is to see two more on track. The Noale racing department is a true heritage of knowledge, of technical culture applied to high performance motorbikes as well as sports management.

“With RNF Racing we find a partner to enhance and valorise this extraordinary heritage. We are thinking, of course, of the riders and the best competitiveness, but also of raising new generations of engineers, technicians and managers. To continue and improve the extraordinary, all-Italian tradition of Aprilia Racing.”

Razlan Razali’s RNF team will depart Yamaha after just one season in its current guise. The team was created following the departure of the Petronas Sepang Racing Team at the end of 2020.

The current RNF Racing duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder have struggled with the Yamaha M1, taking a total of 14 points from seven races.

It’s a similar story to that of the factory Yamaha team, with Quartararo performing miracles thanks to his skill and ability as a world champion. His teammate, Franco Morbidelli is also struggling. The Italian is 17th in the championship with only 19 points to his name.

“We are absolutely thrilled for this long-term partnership with Aprilia Racing,” Razali said. “Our philosophy remains to work together with the factory team to develop riders that will one day become Aprilia factory riders. We will assist them in development to ensure that we continue to be competitive and ultimately win with Aprilia Racing.

The proposal by Aprilia Racing fulfils our long-term plans, strategies and security for the next two plus two years and I must thank Aprilia Racing for its trust, confidence and faith in us. We are absolutely looking forward to the season next year and this new partnership.

“At the same time, we want to express our gratitude to Yamaha for these past years working together and growing together. We will, though, maintain our focus on working hard this season in order to improve our results together with Yamaha and eventually conclude 2022 on a high note.”

It’s not yet known who will ride for the new RNF Racing Aprilia team, with both Dovizioso and Binder out of contract at the end of the year. There are several other riders that may be available, including current Suzuki rider Alex Rins and KTM’s Miguel Oliveira. As a satellite team, RNF may look in the Moto2 class for younger riders as well.

Meanwhile, the news means that there will only be two Yamahas on the 2023 grid. There are no current options for the reigning champions, with Valentino Rossi’s VR46 team contracted to Ducati until the end of the 2023 season.