MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo to replace Valentino Rossi at Yamaha in 2021

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Yamaha have confirmed that Fabio Quartararo will replace Valentino Rossi in the factory MotoGP team next year. 

The Frenchman has signed a two-year deal with Monster Yamaha and will line-up alongside Maverick Vinales, who committed his future to the team yesterday.

"I'm delighted about what my management has achieved in the last few months together with YMC, Quartararo said. "It was not simple to establish, but now I have a clear plan for the next three years and I'm really happy.

I will work hard, like I did last year, and I’m extremely motivated to achieve great performances. I want to thank YMC and Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, who have given me the opportunity to enter the MotoGP class in 2019. I will give my all to do them proud again this year."

The 20-year-old enjoyed a sensational debut season in the premier class with the Petronas Yamaha team. Quartararo secured six pole positions and finished on the podium seven times. He also battled Marc Marquez on a number of occasions, with the eight-time world champion singling out Quartararo as his biggest threat in the years to come. 

Yamaha's Managing Director, Lin Jarvis is thrilled with the signing of Quartararo. He said: “Fabio is only 20 years old, but he is already showing great maturity on and off the bike, and we are excited to have him join us in 2021. 

"Fabio and Maverick will provide a big stimulus to all of us in the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team to continue to develop the YZR-M1 and leave no stone unturned in our quest for MotoGP World Championship victories."

In a separate statement it was revealed that Rossi and Yamaha have mutually agreed that he'll be able to decide his future in 'mid-2020'. If the Italian chooses to continue, Yamaha have assured him that he'll have use of a factory-spec M1 and full factory support. 

Rossi has made it clear to Yamaha that he needs time to evaluate his competitiveness before making such a big decision. 

"For reasons dictated by the riders’ market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future. Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn't want to rush any decision and needed more time.

"Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations. It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021. Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me."


 

Valentino Rossi secures Gulf 12 Hours podium and Pro-Am class victory

First published: 16 December 2019 by Josh Close

Valentino Rossi showcased his ability on four wheels by finishing on the podium and winning the Pro-Am class in the Gulf 12 Hours endurance race.

Just days after getting behind the wheel of Lewis Hamilton's 2017 championship-winning Mercedes-AMG F1 in Valencia, Rossi was back on track in a racing car.

The Italian lined up alongside his half-brother, and Moto2 rider, Luca Marini and friend Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci. The trio raced the Monster VR46 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488, using the iconic number 46.

"It’s a great experience, I enjoyed it very much," Rossi said. "The race is fantastic! The track is great and I felt very good with the car from the beginning. It’s a new experience for us and a great feeling to race with Salucci and my brother. To especially finish on the overall podium, it is the first time and so I want to do it another time."

The event, held at the Yas Marina circuit, was split into two six-hour stints. Despite a fuel flow problem in the early stages, the trio ended the opening stint as class leaders and were sixth overall.

Problems for cars in the Am class elevated Rossi's team into podium contention in the second stint. As Rossi re-joined for the final part of the race, he was handed a five-second penalty for gaining an advantage.

The team's nearest challenger was Uwe Alzen in the Pro-Am class Audi R8. He was unable to match the lap-times set by Rossi and he too was penalised. Alzen was forced to take a drive-through penalty for serving a pit stop too late. As a result, he was unable to challenge the Italian. 

"It’s a long day but very fun," Rossi added. "It’s difficult to keep the concentration but especially during the day because in the evening it’s colder, you enjoy it more. It’s long but beautiful. The tyres gave better grip in the evening and I was definitely stronger. It was Luca’s debut, and I know what he can do from rally driving, and we enjoyed it very much.”

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.