Though it is still some years off, Valentino Rossi is laying the groundwork for his life after racing. The nine-times world champion yesterday announced the start of the VR46 Riders Academy, a program for nurturing young Italian racing talent during the transition into Grand Prix racing.
The academy will consist of offering training facilities to help young riders develop their talent. The riders will have Rossi's gym and his dirt track ranch at their disposal, and will also receive support and tuition from Rossi himself. The first entrants into the academy will consist of the Team Sky VR46 Moto3 riders, Romano Fenati and Francesco 'Pecco' Bagnaia, Moto2 rider Franco Morbidelli, and Luca Marini, Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega, all of whom will be competing in the Spanish CEV Moto3 championship. The academy is to be run by Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci, with other key people from Rossi's Tavullia circle.
The 2014 Moto3 rider line up (still provisional)
Ducati team boss Vitto Guareschi is to leave Ducati at the end of this season and to manage the new Sky Moto3 team being run with the backing of Valentino Rossi's VR46 merchandising franchise. Guareschi is to assume the role of team manager in the project, which has been set up with the express aim of developing new young Italian talent. The team will field two riders, with Romano Fenati already having been signed for 2014, and a second rider yet to be announced. That rider will not be Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini, as Marini has already signed a contract to race in the Spanish championship in 2014.
Valentino Rossi is to back a Moto3 team showcasing Italian talent from next season. The Italian will work with Sky Italia, the broadcaster who will be taking over the broadcast rights for MotoGP from next season, to field a pair of riders including current FMI Italia rider Romano Fenati on KTM machines. Sky Italia will be the main sponsor, while Rossi's VR46 clothing and merchandise brand will provide support and backing for the project.
The aim of project is to help bring young Italian talent into Grand Prix racing. This was also the aim of the Italian motorcycling federation when they set up the FMI Italia team with Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia, but the FTR Hondas have been no match for the superior horsepower of the KTMs this season. The Sky Italia / VR46 team have elected to race with KTM machinery, giving them a better chance of fighting on an equal footing.
With just over a week to go to the start of the 2013 MotoGP season, it's time to take another trip down memory lane and get ourselves excited about this season's racing. Today, shots from MotoMatters.com star shooter Scott Jones taken at Jerez. Remember also to check out the special offers Scott has on signed photos, including riders such as Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow and Nicky Hayden. Not long to go now...