The first two pieces of the Petronas Yamaha MotoGP team, to be run by the Sepang International Circuit, have now been confirmed. Today, the Angel Nieto Team belonging to Jorge Martinez Aspar announced that they have sold their two MotoGP grid slots to the Sepang International Circuit organization, and thirty minutes later, Yamaha announced that they have agreed a three-year deal with the Sepang International Circuit to lease M1 MotoGP bikes through the 2021 season.
The official confirmation has come with a lot of detail still missing, but what we know is that a lot more pieces of the puzzle are in place, though they are yet to be confirmed. Petronas are set to be the sponsor for the team, and Franco Morbidelli is likely to be one of the two riders for the team. Track analyst for Maverick Viñales and long-time Yamaha employee Wilco Zeelenberg looks likely to be the team manager, a role he also fulfilled for the factory Yamaha team in World Supersport a decade ago. MotoMatters.com subscribers have known about this since last week, as all this and more was in the article I wrote about how the Petronas Yamaha team came about.
The one question which remains unanswered is who the second Petronas Yamaha rider will be. On Tuesday, Dani Pedrosa issued a press release stating that he had made a decision about his future, and will be making an announcement on the Thursday before the German round of MotoGP at the Sachsenring. There are no hints of which way this decision will go at the moment, though some publications believe he is tending towards retirement, rather than switching to a Yamaha.
It is worth noting that the press release from Yamaha stated that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sepang International Circuit, rather than a contract. A Memorandum of Understanding allows either side to back out of the deal without the serious legal and financial consequences of breaking a contract, while affirming a commitment from both sides to make the deal work. This suggests that there are still one or two details to be ironed out before a contract is signed, the most likely of which is the level of equipment and support - full factory or satellite - to be supplied to the team.
The next announcement is likely to come from the team at the Sachsenring race, once Dani Pedrosa has announced what his plans for the future are.
Below are the press releases from the Angel Nieto Team and from Yamaha.
Ángel Nieto Team - Sepang International Circuit
Ángel Nieto Racing Team (ANRT) and Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in principle have reached an agreement by which, from the 2019 MotoGP season, SIC will take over the two MotoGP™ class entries of the ANRT. Mr Jorge Martínez "Aspar" will assume the position as the Sporting Advisor to this new MotoGP™ Team.
YAMAHA MOTOR CO., LTD. SIGNS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 5th July 2018
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to confirm the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sepang International Circuit.
The MoU between Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and the Sepang International Circuit foresees the team leasing Yamaha YZR-M1 motorcycles for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 FIM MotoGP World Championship seasons as a satellite team.