MotoGP: Franco Morbidelli to leave Yamaha at the end of 2023

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Yamaha has confirmed that Franco Morbidelli will not continue with the team following the conclusion of the 2023 MotoGP season.

The 28-year-old joined the factory Monster Energy Yamaha squad during the 2021 season following the departure of Maverick Vinales. The move came after a successful stint with Petronas Yamaha, which saw Morbidelli finish second overall in 2020.

During his time as a satellite rider, Morbidelli secured three victories and a total of six podiums, ending that 2020 campaign only 13 points behind champion Joan Mir.

A serious knee injury ruled Morbidelli out of several races in 2021, and the Italian has been unable to match his previous highs in the factory team. As a factory rider, Morbidelli’s best result is currently fourth, taken in the wet conditions in Argentina this season.

“First and foremost, I want to thank Franky for his hard work and dedication ever since he started with the Factory Team and also long before that when he was a Satellite rider for Yamaha,” Lin Jarvis, Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing said.The Yamaha and Morbidelli partnership led to some great results, including an outstanding vice-champion title in 2020.

“It’s a shame that the last two years didn‘t play out the way we both wanted and hoped for. We discussed the possibilities to continue our partnership, but ultimately, we decided that 2024 would be a moment to make a change, both for Yamaha and for Franky.

“The team will proceed to fully support Franky in every way we can to close out our time spent together in the best possible way.”

Franco Morbidelli in action for Yamaha at the Sachsenring

2023 has been tough not only for Morbidelli, but for teammate and 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo. Yamaha’s push for more power from the M1 engine has seen the bike lose its previous strengths through the corners.

Quartararo and Morbidelli have consistently been beaten by the swarm of Ducati riders this year, as well as the Red Bull KTM duo of Brad Binder and Jack Miller.

Quartararo has just one GP podium and one sprint race podium so far in 2023 and sits ninth in the standing, whilst Morbidelli is 11th overall.

Their job has been made harder due to the fact that Yamaha has no satellite team this year following RNF Racing’s switch to Aprilia. Yamaha will continue to field just two bikes in 2024.

Morbidelli has been linked with a move to Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati, which is a real possibility given his relationship with Valentino Rossi through the VR46 Academy.

Meanwhile, Alex Rins’ name has been linked with the vacant seat at Yamaha. Rins joined LCR Honda for 2023 following Suzuki’s departure from MotoGP, however he, like all Honda riders, has endured a rough year.

Rins won at COTA but is currently out of action after breaking his tibia and fibula during the sprint race at Mugello. Rins has undergone two surgeries as a result and has missed the last two rounds, and will also be absent this weekend at Silverstone.

2021 World Superbike Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu was previously linked with a sensational switch to MotoGP with Yamaha, however the Turkish rider has since committed his future to the production bike series with BMW.