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Valentino Rossi To Announce His Future At Styrian GP

Dorna and the Petronas Yamaha team have announced that there is to be an exceptional press conference at 16:15 local time in Austria. While no further information was given, the obvious conclusion is that he will announce his plans for the future at that press conference.

What that future is predictable, though not certain. It is most likely that Rossi will announce he will be retiring from the sport at the end of this year. He insisted earlier this year that he would make a decision in the first half of the season based on his results, and with only two tenth places as his best results, that would point heavily toward the idea of him retiring.

Much less likely is that he will announce he is to continue in his own VR46 team, sponsored by Saudi enterprise Tanal Entertainment. That would mean a switch of machinery, the VR46 team set to run Ducatis from 2022, and switching bikes at this stage of his career would be exceptionally challenging. It is not something to be undertaken if your aim is to immediately improve your results, as it takes time to adapt.

All this is speculation, of course. We will find out for certain what Valentino Rossi is going to do at 4:15pm local time in Spielberg. The press conference will be streamed live and for free on the MotoGP.com website.

 

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Cal Crutchlow Confirmed As Replacement For Franco Morbidelli For Three Races

The first race after the summer break will see retired racers returning to the MotoGP grid. After Dani Pedrosa was confirmed as a wildcard at the Styria GP at Spielberg, Cal Crutchlow has now officially been confirmed as replacing Franco Morbidelli at both races in Austria and at his home Grand Prix at Silverstone. Today, the Petronas Yamaha SRT team issued a press release announcing Crutchlow for the next three races. Morbidelli is absent after having surgery on his left knee to fix an issue with his ACL.

Racing at Austria will not be easy for Crutchlow, MotoGP veteran and now official Yamaha tester. The 2019 Yamaha M1 is the slowest bike on the grid by some margin, an important factor at the Spielberg circuit. It will be a good base to get up to speed for his home race at Silverstone: there has been at least one Yamaha on the podium at the Northamptonshire circuit at every race held at the track since its return to the Grand Prix calendar in 2010.

The fact that Crutchlow is to replace Franco Morbidelli for the next three rounds points to the Italian prioritizing his recovery from ACL surgery over the 2021 MotoGP season. This could be read as a clear indication that Morbidelli is in line to move up to the factory Yamaha team in 2022, taking the place of the departing Maverick Viñales. Morbidelli is clearly the best option for the seat, having proved his worth by finishing second in the championship in 2020.

What will become of Viñales is less clear, with no word of where the Spaniard might land for 2022. Similarly, the search for a replacement (or two) at Petronas is also far from settled.

The Petronas Yamaha press release appears below:


Crutchlow to join PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for next three races

Cal Crutchlow will stand-in for the recovering Franco Morbidelli at Styrian, Austrian and British GPs

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team welcomes Cal Crutchlow to the Malaysian squad as stand-in for Franco Morbidelli while the Italian rider continues his recovery from left knee surgery.

Crutchlow will take part in the two Grands Prix in Austria, held at Spielberg, and the BritishGP at Silverstone – his home race.

Crutchlow is no stranger to Yamaha MotoGP machinery, having started his premier class career with the Japanese marque in 2011 – spending three seasons aboard the Yamaha – and is now the official factory test and development rider.

Razlan Razali, Team Principal, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

After looking at all the options, it was a collective decision between Yamaha and ourselves to ask Cal Crutchlow to fill in for Franco, while he recovers from surgery. Cal is a credible and experienced rider, who is currently a test rider for Yamaha. As an independent team, this is where we can really step up to help Yamaha. Cal will be able to rack up some good mileage on our M1, which should aid him with his testing and development work for Yamaha. Cal will replace Franco for the next three races and we have no real targets for him in terms of results. We will do all we can to help support him and make him feel comfortable in the team. He’s already familiar with some of the key people in the team, which helps, and I’m sure he’s up for the challenge.

Cal Crutchlow, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

It’s great to be back riding with Yamaha this year as the official test rider and to be able to step in when needed is good for all parties. I’m looking forward to riding for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in the three Grands Prix. Obviously it’s not in the best circumstances and I wish Franco a good recovery, I hope he comes back strongly after the knee surgery. I’m sure he will because he’s been riding fantastically over the last two years.

I think it’s difficult to set targets for these three races and it will be more about understanding the bike, as I’ve had limited riding days this year. The good thing will be that I can compare the bikes and I should be able to gather a lot of data for Yamaha. It’s a bit like being thrown in the deep end, as it’s a very competitive MotoGP class, but I’m really looking forward to it and it’s going to be good to be back on the grid.

I’m looking forward to meeting the team in Austria, although there will be some familiar faces for me because Wilco Zeelenberg was my Team Manager in Supersport in 2009 and I actually raced against Johan Stigefelt some years ago, so it’s going to be a pleasure to be back with them.

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2021 MotoGP Calendar Update: Thailand Canceled, Replacement Round To Be Decided

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to remind us that it is a global, not a local, phenomenon. As cases continue to rise in Thailand, and the vaccination program is only being rolled out slowly, the organizers of the Thai GP have been forced to cancel the 2021 MotoGP round at Buriram.

It is believed that a replacement round is being planned, but finding a venue is proving difficult, for much the same reason the race was canceled. There have been rumors of a second round at Sepang, but also of hosting two races in Austin, at the Circuit of the Americas. Much of this is speculation, with little confirmation, given the ever-shifting nature of the pandemic. Holding two races at the same track is the most likely course of action, however: minimizing travel increases the chances of a race actually being held.

The current 2021 MotoGP calendar appears below, though it is certain to change:

Date Grand prix Circuit
28 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
4 April Qatar* Losail International Circuit
18 April Portugal Algarve International Circuit
02 May Spain Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto
16 May France Le Mans
30 May Italy Autodromo del Mugello
06 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
20 June Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
27 June Germany Sachsenring
8 August Styria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
15 August Austria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
29 August Great Britain Silverstone
12 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
19 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
03 October Americas Circuit of the Americas
24 October Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
7 November Algarve Algarve International Circuit
14 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo
tbc tbc tbc
 
Postponed Grands Prix to be rescheduled subject to the pandemic:
Grand prix Circuit
República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
Reserve Grand Prix Venues:
Indonesia** Mandalika International Street Circuit

* Evening Race
** Subject to Homologation

There will be a maximum of 20 events in the 2021 season. All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of the corresponding Governments and authorities.

The official announcement appears below:


2021 Thai GP cancelled

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the cancellation of the OR Thailand Grand Prix, which was set to take place at Chang International Circuit from the 15th to the 17th of October. Despite the best efforts of all parties involved, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions have obliged the cancellation of the event.

The FIM MotoGP™ World Championship looks forward to returning to race in front of the incredibly passionate Buriram crowd in 2022.

A replacement event is currently under consideration and any updates regarding a possible substitute will be published as soon as available.

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Old Hands Return To MotoGP - Dani Pedrosa To Wildcard In Austria, Cal Crutchlow To Replace Franco Morbidelli

The old guard of MotoGP are making something of a comeback after the summer break. Two familiar names and now test riders are to make a brief return to racing, in Austria and beyond. Only one of those riders - Dani Pedrosa - has been officially confirmed as a wildcard at the first race at the Red Bull Ring - but Cal Crutchlow is widely expected to replace Franco Morbidelli for the next three rounds.

The news that Dani Pedrosa is to make a wildcard appearance at the Red Bull Ring at the Styrian Grand Prix had been widely rumored, but still comes as something of a surprise. There had been much talk early in the year that Pedrosa would race for KTM as a wildcard, but the Spaniard's aversion to media appearances and general lack of interest in racing made that seem unlikely.

It appears that there has been some pressure on Pedrosa to race, however. The last time Pedrosa actually competed in a MotoGP race was at the final round of 2018 at Valencia. Though Pedrosa's input has been invaluable in helping to develop the KTM RC16 into a competitive machine, there was talk that the Spaniard was starting to lose his ability to push right at the very razor's edge of performance. Putting Pedrosa back into a racing situation will sharpen his reflexes, it is thought, and help him be even more productive.

This is a lesson learned from Ducati, who have encouranged test rider Michele Pirro to keep racing in the Italian CIV Superbike championship, for this very reason. Racing boosts the ambition, and hones the senses, giving them a better understanding of just how much risk can be taken on a race bike, and giving them a better feeling for where the limit actually lies.

While Dani Pedrosa has been confirmed officially as a wildcard, Franco Morbidelli's replacement has not. What has been officially announced by Petronas Yamaha boss Razlan Razali is that Morbidelli is to miss the next three races - two rounds in Austria and the British Grand Prix in Silverstone - while he recovers from surgery to fix a torn ACL. Unofficially, however, it seems that Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow is to take Morbidelli's place in the Petronas squad.

That is something of a mixed blessing for Crutchlow. The Englishman gets to ride the slowest bike on the grid at the fastest track on the calendar not once but twice, a track with the 2019 Yamaha M1 does not prosper. However, he also gets to race his home Grand Prix at Silverstone on the M1, a track at which the Yamaha has excelled in the past.

An appearance by Crutchlow is still not offcially confirmed, however. We will only know for certain whether he is racing once official confirmation arrives.

The press release from KTM appears below:


Pedrosa confirmed to make Red Bull KTM MotoGP™ wildcard appearance in Austria

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing test rider Dani Pedrosa will make a debut competitive outing with the KTM RC16 by entering the tenth round of the 2021 MotoGP series: the Michelin Grand Prix of Styria at the Red Bull Ring, Austria on August 6-8.

The 35-year-old MotoGP Legend retired from full time racing with 31 victories and 112 podium results from 13 seasons in the premier class between 2006 and 2018. Since 2019 he has been an integral part of KTM’s development program for MotoGP and with the KTM RC16 that made its debut at the 2016 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana and then joined the grid on a permanent basis in 2017.

Pedrosa finished in the top five of the MotoGP championship 11 times from 13 campaigns and was a three-time runner-up. The Spaniard’s last Grand Prix was almost a thousand days ago with the 2018 event at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia where he classified 5th. He has since shared a race track with the current MotoGP field at both IRTA and private test days. Red Bull Ring will represent his first race with KTM.

The long-term Red Bull athlete will steer an adapted development version of the KTM RC16 to gain further valuable data in Grand Prix conditions.

Dani Pedrosa:
“It’s been super-interesting to be part of this project from the beginning with KTM in MotoGP and being able to share my experience with them. Step-by-step we did the best we could and now it’s interesting again to go into a race because it gives you a different perspective compared to a normal test. It has been a long time since my last race and, of course, the mentality for a GP is very different to a test. My focus for the GP is to try to test the things we have on the bike in a race situation. I wish to understand the requests riders might have for different sessions and technical features. Watching from home I can sense the improvements in the bikes and the racing but in order to understand more about MotoGP now, the new technologies and how to race and use strategies against the others we’ll make this wildcard. It’s difficult to talk about my expectations after being so long away from competition. It might all click into a racing mentality or it might not but we’ll try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can.”

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager:
“It will be curious to see Dani in MotoGP again. He has been away from racing for quite a long time but it will be valuable to have him in garage at Red Bull Ring to analyze the strong and not-so-strong parts of our KTM RC16 package in GP conditions and it will give him a good indication for his testing work. Dani has had a big influence in our MotoGP project thanks to all of his experience. The company was working and pushing hard to follow his requests, along with Mika’s [Kallio]. Dani was a good reference as he retired at the end of 2018 while still at the top of the sport and we can see some of his influence in the current success of the KTM RC16. He will have a mixture of the current race bike and some small upgrades and he will have some testing to do during the weekend but we also don’t want to overload him. We want him to enjoy the Grand Prix! There are a lot of young, strong riders in MotoGP at the moment, so he will be busy but this is a good way for him to learn more and feel the current benchmark in the sport and this will help us for future testing.”

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2021 MotoGP Calender Changed Again: Phillip Island Canceled, Portimão Returns For Second Race

The ongoing fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to reshuffle the 2021 MotoGP calendar. This morning came news that the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island has been canceled for 2021, with an extra round at Portimao added before Valencia to take its place.

The news had been widely anticipated, as Australia continues to maintain a strict border policy, making staging international sporting events almost impossible. The dropping of Phillip Island means that the Sepang race has been moved a week earlier, to October 24th, and an additional round added at Algarve International Circuit in Portimão on November 7th, a week before the final round in Valencia.

It seems unlikely (though not impossible) that this will be the final calendar change of the season. International travel remains precarious, and national restrictions are being lifted and reintroduced in various countries around the world as the Delta variant outbreak gathers pace, outpacing the rate of vaccination, temporarily at least.

The revised 2021 MotoGP Calendar appears below:

Date Grand prix Circuit
28 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
4 April Qatar* Losail International Circuit
18 April Portugal Algarve International Circuit
02 May Spain Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto
16 May France Le Mans
30 May Italy Autodromo del Mugello
06 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
20 June Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
27 June Germany Sachsenring
8 August Styria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
15 August Austria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
29 August Great Britain Silverstone
12 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
19 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
03 October Americas Circuit of the Americas
17 October Thailand Chang International Circuit
24 October Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
7 November Algarve Algarve International Circuit
14 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo

 

Postponed Grands Prix to be rescheduled subject to the pandemic:
Grand prix Circuit
República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
Reserve Grand Prix Venues:
Indonesia** Mandalika International Street Circuit

* Evening Race
** Subject to Homologation

There will be a maximum of 20 events in the 2021 season. All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of the corresponding Governments and authorities.

The press release from the FIM appears below:


Australian GP cancelled, Algarve GP added and Malaysian GP brought forward one week

The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports regret to announce the cancellation of the Red Bull Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and resulting travel complications and logistical restrictions mean it has not been possible to confirm the viability of the event at this time, and it will therefore not feature on the 2021 calendar. The FIM MotoGP™ World Championship looks forward to returning to race in front of the Australian fans at the spectacular Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit in 2022. The 2021 Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix has therefore been brought forward and will take place a week earlier than previously scheduled, from the 22nd to the 24th of October – the weekend immediately following the rescheduled OR Grand Prix of Thailand.

In addition, the FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports are delighted to confirm the addition of the Grande Premio do Algarve to the 2021 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship calendar. MotoGP™ will return to Portimão from the 5th to the 7th of November, the week preceding the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, as the iconic Autodromo do Algarve welcomes MotoGP™ back for a second Grand Prix this season.

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Toprak Razgatlioglu Signs On For Two More Years In WorldSBK With Yamaha

Toprak Razgatlioglu is to remain in WorldSBK for two more seasons. The Turkish rider agreed a deal with Yamaha which will see him continue with the factory World Superbike squad through the 2023 season.

The deal was something of a surprise, as Razgatlioglu had been heavily linked with the empty seat (or more likely, seats) in Yamaha's MotoGP teams. At 24, and showing a lot of potential, Razgatlioglu seemed ripe for a switch to the MotoGP paddock. However, he has chosen to remain in WorldSBK and pursue the goal of becoming the first Turkish rider to win a World Superbike title.

Razgatlioglu's manager, former World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu, is believed to have a hand in Razgatlioglu's decision. Sofuoglu is a strong supporter of the WorldSBK series, in part because of his own successes in the championship, and in part because of his own bad experiences when he switched to Moto2.

Whether Razgatlioglu can switch to MotoGP at the end of this two-year contract remains to be seen. MotoGP team managers are known to be both strongly prejudiced against riders from WorldSBK (rightly or wrongly), and to favor youth over experience. Razgatlioglu will be 26 at the end of his current WorldSBK contract, and will face competition from some of the top riders currently coming through from Moto3 and Moto2.

Surprisingly, 26 is relatively old in MotoGP: of the current grid, 13 riders are 26 or younger, and the 26-year-olds and those who turn 26 this year - Maverick Viñales, Brad Binder, Alex Rins, Jack Miller, Miguel Oliveira - are all in factory teams, with multiple seasons in MotoGP. Finding a place among the youngsters coming up and the current crop of experienced riders may prove to be very difficult.

The press release from Yamaha appears below:


Toprak Razgatlıoğlu Signs New Two-Year Contract with Yamaha in WorldSBK

Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to announce a new two-year contract extension for FIM Superbike World Championship title contender and multiple race-winner Toprak Razgatlıoğlu.

After a strong first season aboard the Yamaha R1 in 2020, where Razgatlıoğlu won on his first outing at Phillip Island and scored two further victories on his way to fourth in the series standings, the Turkish rider has made another significant step forward so far this year and sits second in the championship, having already scored seven podiums including a sensational win at Misano.

Those performances have attracted the attention of teams in both WorldSBK and MotoGP, but ahead of the Donington Park WorldSBK round Yamaha Motor Europe and the 24-year-old agreed a new two-year contract extension, which will see Razgatlıoğlu spearhead Yamaha's assault on the FIM Superbike World Championship until the end of 2023.

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu

“Yamaha has become like my family and I’m really happy to be signing for another two years. I think we’ve improved the bike a lot since I joined for the 2020 season, so it was an easy decision for me to make. We are fighting for the championship this year, we’re very close to the top and I have the best people around me in the Pata Yamaha with Brixx team pit box to help me achieve my goals. I like the WorldSBK paddock, and I’m happy racing here. Maybe MotoGP is something I will think about in the future, but for now I am focused completely on getting the job done here in WorldSBK. Thank you to everyone who has worked to make this happen and now I look forward to the future together with Yamaha.”

Andrea Dosoli
Road Racing Manager, Yamaha Motor Europe

“We started this journey together with Toprak in 2020, a strange year for everyone, but one where we developed a good relationship. That served as the basis for the current season which has been very positive so far, the best since Yamaha came back to WorldSBK. The Yamaha R1 keeps improving race-by-race, and this allows Toprak to express his great talent. The decision to extend the collaboration between Toprak and Yamaha Motor Europe for the next two seasons arrived earlier than expected, as we are really convinced that there is more to come, and together we'll be able to challenge for the WorldSBK title. I strongly appreciate the trust Toprak has put in Yamaha, for which I thank him, and I can guarantee that we'll do our best to meet our high expectations.”

Paolo Pavesio
Director, Marketing and Motorsport, Yamaha Motor Europe

“Since joining Yamaha in 2020, Toprak has consistently demonstrated his pace and race winning potential and we're extremely pleased to be continuing this journey together for another two seasons. He has proven that he’s capable of fighting for wins every weekend and in just his second year aboard the Yamaha R1 he’s already announced himself as a WorldSBK title contender. Equally important for us is that he is both an inspiration and a role model for our bLU cRU youngsters, with whom he spends a lot of time during WorldSBK race weekends. I would like to thank Toprak for his confidence in Yamaha, as well as his manager Kenan Sofuoğlu and everyone from our side who worked to make this possible. I think we have an exciting and successful time ahead together and we will work to make sure we give Toprak the best platform for success.”

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2021 MotoGP Calendar Update: Austin Confirmed, Motegi Cancelled, But End Of Year Still Uncertain

Austin is back on the MotoGP calendar. Today, the FIM announced that the Motegi round of MotoGP has been canceled, as travel to Japan is still very difficult, with the Circuit of the Americas being put in its place on October 3rd. The changes have obviously been made in response to the pandemic, and as Covid-19 continues to be a problem around the world, more changes are likely.

Currently, MotoGP is set to go to Thailand two weeks after Austin, on October 17th, the first of a triple header at Buriram, then Phillip Island in Australia, and then the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. However, travel restrictions are still in place for Phillip Island, and are unlikely to be lifted in time for the race to take place. And the current Covid-19 situation in Thailand is also cause for concern. Sepang are also believed to be willing to host a race only if they can have at least 70% fan capacity at the track.

At the moment, the backup plan for Phillip Island not taking place is for there to be a double-header at Valencia to replace it. The season would end at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo with two races on consecutive weekends. There has also been talk of two races on back-to-back weekends at the Circuit of the Americas if Thailand has to be canceled.

All that is still unconfirmed, however. For the moment, MotoGP has a plan for the second half of the season. But like all plans during the pandemic, it is subject to change up to the last moment.

Here is the current calendar update as it stands:

Date Grand prix Circuit
28 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
4 April Qatar* Losail International Circuit
18 April Portugal Algarve International Circuit
02 May Spain Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto
16 May France Le Mans
30 May Italy Autodromo del Mugello
06 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
20 June Germany Sachsenring
27 June Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
8 August Styria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
15 August Austria Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
29 August Great Britain Silverstone
12 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
19 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
03 October Americas Circuit of the Americas
17 October Thailand Chang International Circuit
24 October Australia Philip Island
31 October Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
14 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo

Date

 
Postponed Grands Prix to be rescheduled subject to the pandemic:
Grand prix Circuit
República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
Reserve Grand Prix Venues:
Indonesia** Mandalika International Street Circuit

* Evening Race
** Subject to Homologation

There will be a maximum of 20 events in the 2021 season. All dates, events and the attendance of spectators are subject to the evolution of the pandemic and the approval of the corresponding Governments and authorities.

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Gresini Officially Confirm Switch To Ducati For 2022, Bastianini And Di Giannantonio As Riders

Today, the Gresini Racing Team announced that their immediate future lies with Ducati. The Italian team, now run by Nadia Padovani, the widow of team's founder Fausto Gresini, will lease Ducati Desmosedici machines from the Bologna factory for the 2022 and 2023 MotoGP seasons.

The link with Ducati had been widely trailed, the Gresini team wavering between remaining with Aprilia as a satellite squad or switch to Ducati. The projected rider pairing may have had an influence on that decision: that Fabio Di Giannantonio would be moving up to MotoGP with Gresini for 2022 was a given, part of his deal for Moto2. But Enea Bastianini's switch from the Esponsorama squad, set to leave MotoGP at the end of 2021, to Gresini was not a foregone conclusion. Bastianini's ties to Ducati may well have weighed in the balance.

While Di Giannantonio already has a contract with Gresini, and is racing for the team in Moto2, it is something of a return for Enea Bastianini, and a reunion for the two riders. Bastianini started his Moto3 career with Gresini, first on a KTM, then later on a Honda, winning two races and scoring another 7 podiums for the Italian team. He was joined by Di Giannantonio in the Gresini Moto3 squad for the 2016 season, before leaving for the Estrella Galicia team.

Although no details of what level of machinery Ducati will be supplying were announced, it is widely expected that the team will have one-year-old bikes, meaning that Di Giannantonio and Bastianini will start the 2022 season with Ducati Desmosedici GP21s. That this is no bad thing is plain from the current MotoGP championship standings, where GP21s occupy positions two, three, and four. The fourth GP21, in the hands of Jorge Martin, has also had a pole and a podium.

Gresini's choice to sign with Ducati means there will be 8 Ducati Desmodedicis on the grid in 2022. The VR46 team, who will take over both slots from Esponsorama next year, are also expected to announce a deal with Ducati soon, with Luca Marini on one machine, and an open seat for the other. However, as the VR46 team is set up to provide bikes for members of the VR46 Riders Academy, the most logical choice would be for current Sky VR46 Moto2 rider Marco Bezzecchi to make the step up alongside Marini. Paddock reports suggest that Marini will get a GP22, while the second rider will be offered a GP21.

The separation of Gresini from Aprilia is part of the new team and factory contract period with Dorna for the coming five seasons. When Aprilia entered MotoGP, there were no spare grid slots, and so Aprilia were only able to enter in partnership with the Gresini squad. This led to the awkward situation of a full-factory effort being present in Parc Ferme as the first independent team rider, and the team taking part in the Independent Team Championship.

Dorna and Aprilia agreed to grant Aprilia their own grid slots for the coming contract period, from 2022 through 2026. Aprilia will now compete as a separate, full factory team, while Gresini become fully independent once again. That independence gave them the freedom to choose who to lease MotoGP machines from, which in turn led to their decision to switch to Ducati.

The press release from Gresini appears below:


THE NEW GRESINI MOTOGP PROJECT IS BORN

The future of Gresini Racing is ‘red’

Starting from next year, Gresini Racing will be back as an Independent MotoGP Team, with Ducati as the manufacturer of choice. This decision has been strongly supported by Fausto’s family, and it leads to a whole new project tied with the Borgo Panigale brand for the next two seasons.

Team Gresini will be back in full control of their Premier Class effort and will do so with the all-Italian line-up of Fabio Di Giannantonio and Enea Bastianini, two talented young riders who are no strangers to Fausto and Gresini Racing.

A big thank you goes to Aprilia Racing for the seven years spent together, which made for an especially important chapter in the history of Gresini Racing.

NADIA PADOVANI – GRESINI RACING TEAM OWNER & TEAM PRINCIPAL

“It’s a very emotional moment for each of us. In previous months, our efforts merged with a strong emotional push to shape the future of Gresini Racing, and now are immensely proud and happy to make the official announcement. It is a project born out of continuity and based on values upon which Fausto built this amazing institution. My thank you goes first and foremost to Carmelo Ezpeleta for making sure we never felt alone during these months, to Ducati for trusting our projects, to Flex-Box who joined us in this new challenge as title sponsor and obviously to Fabio and Enea: I’m sure they will give their best to wave the Gresini Racing banner high.”

GIGI DALL’IGNA – DUCATI CORSE GENERAL MANAGER

“We’re incredibly happy to have reached this agreement with Gresini Racing for the next two MotoGP seasons. We had laid down the foundations of a possible agreement with Fausto already at the end of last year and we would like to thank - from the bottom of our hearts - his family for carrying this project forward with us. Gresini Racing has been an especially important institution in MotoGP for many years and we are confident this partnership, which can count on two very talented riders such as Enea and Fabio, will be of great satisfaction for all parties involved."

CARMELO EZPELETA – CEO DORNA SPORTS

“First of all, it is a pleasure to continue working with Gresini Racing as an Independent Team. I know how much Fausto cared about this project and I'm sure he would be very proud of it now. I had the opportunity to speak with Nadia in recent weeks and I see in her, in her sons and the whole team the determination and the great passion for this sport that characterized him so much. We’re thrilled that Gresini Racing will continue, at least, 5 more years in the Premier Class”.

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Fabio Quartararo Handed 3-Second Penalty For Finishing Barcelona MotoGP Race With Unzipped Leathers

Fabio Quartararo has been hand a 3-second penalty after the conclusion of the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona, for riding with his leathers open. The Frenchman's leathers came open in the first half of lap 21, after which he discarded his chest protector, and he went on to finish the remaining laps with the leathers completely open, the wind having forced the zip open completely.

At the time, Quartararo was allowed to continue the race, crossing the line in third position, though he was later demoted to fourth for exceeding track limits at Turn 1. Five hours after the race, the Frenchman was handed a second penalty, for riding with his leathers open. That 3 second penalty put him behind Joan Mir and Maverick Viñales, dropping him to sixth on the race results.

The penalty was issued for contravening section 2.4.5.2 - Rider’s Safety Equipment - of the FIM MotoGP regulations. That section states:

The equipment must be worn, correctly fastened, at all times during on-track activity.

Quartararo had attempted to close his leathers again, but once the zip is completely open, it is very difficult to close while wearing gloves. The zip had opened all the way to below the waist, and zipping it back up again would have required two hands to do properly.

The race results and championship standings posted earlier have already been amended to include the penalty issued to Quartararo.

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Maverick Viñales Changes Crew Chiefs, Again - Esteban Garcia Out, Silvano Galbusera In

Maverick Viñales' lackluster 2021 season has caused another casualty. Today, Yamaha announced that his crew chief Esteban Garcia would be leaving his role with immediate effect, to be replaced by Silvano Galbusera. Galbusera was the easy choice, as the Italian veteran is already involved with Yamaha as the crew chief working in the test team, working with Cal Crutchlow to help develop the YZR-M1.

The change has perhaps been predictable. Viñales has been making veiled comments about his team making the wrong decisions during the weekend. After last Sunday's race at Mugello, Viñales criticized the decision to stick with the medium front tire instead of switching to the soft, with which the Spaniard had had a much better feeling on Friday.

"I just went to the medium [front], and then the problems started," Viñales had said on Sunday afternoon. "So I don't know why we didn't try the soft front. So I think we didn't pay enough attention to that, because then in FP1, the first laps, I felt fantastic."

Dropping Esteban Garcia is a remarkable move by Maverick Viñales. Garcia was the crew chief with whom Viñales won his Moto3 title in 2013, and had come to MotoGP at the request of Viñales to replace the experienced veteran Ramon Forcada for the start of the 2019 season.

Forcada switched to the Petronas Yamaha SRT team where he is crew chief for Franco Morbidelli, and he helped Morbidelli to a second place in the Covid-19-stricken 2020 MotoGP championship.

Garcia's replacement, Silvano Galbusera, is no stranger to the factory Yamaha team. Galbusera was crew chief to Valentino Rossi for five years, coming in to replace Jeremy Burgess after Rossi sacked Burgess at the end of the 2013 season, then making way for Rossi's current crew chief, David Muñoz, at the start of 2019.

Viñales gets another chance to make progress at Barcelona, one of his favorite tracks, and a circuit where he has been fast in the past. The Spaniard will be working with Galbusera at Barcelona from the start of FP1 on Friday.

The press release from Yamaha appears below:


ESTEBAN GARCIA AND MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP TEAM MUTUALLY AGREE TO END WORK RELATIONSHIP

Montmeló (Spain), 3rd June 2021

Yamaha Motor Racing Srl confirm that at the end of the Italian GP Esteban García Amoedo and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team have mutually agreed to terminate their working relationship with immediate effect.

Following the Italian GP, Esteban García Amoedo and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team have mutually agreed to end their working relationship with immediate effect. Silvano Galbusera will take over the role of Crew Chief for Maverick Viñales for the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season.

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, Yamaha Motor Racing Srl, and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team members take this opportunity to thank Garcia for the time they spent working together and wish him all the best for the future.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI - TEAM DIRECTOR

Esteban joined our team in 2019. He and Maverick had already worked together before in 2013 and won the Moto3 World Championship that year. We are very grateful to Esteban for his dedication and passion during our time spent together, which led to eleven podiums for Maverick, including four wins, three second places, and four third places. Saying ’Goodbye‘ to one of our crew members is always a sad occasion, but it was a mutual decision based on what‘s best for both parties. We wish Esteban all the best for the future.

 

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