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Andrea Iannone Judgment Expected Mid-November

Andrea Iannone's doping saga appears to be coming to an end. In a press release issued today, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced that the court would issue its decision in mid November on the two appeals lodged against Iannone's 18-month ban for testing positive for drostanolone, handed down by the FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI). Those appeals were heard on Thursday, October 15th.

There are two appeals, because it is not just Andrea Iannone appealing for his ban to be lifted. After the FIM CDI reduced Iannone's ban from two years to 18 months, WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, appealed against that sentence, demanding the FIM impose the mandatory 4-year ban which comes with a doping violation under the WADA code, to which the FIM is a signatory.

An announcement in mid November would mean that Iannone will be able to race at Portimao, and possibly one of the Valencia rounds if the CAS rules in his favor. But it will also mean that Aprilia will be able to move forward with a decision on who they want to partner Aleix Espargaro in 2021, with Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith waiting to hear if they will be selected. Aprilia's first pick, Andrea Dovizioso, appears to have chosen to pursue a role as a test rider, with a view to returning to racing in MotoGP in 2022, rather than racing what is still a relatively uncompetitive Aprilia RS-GP.

The press release from the CAS appears below:


UPDATE ON THE CAS PROCEEDINGS IN THE ARBITRATIONS ANDREA IANNONE V/FIM AND WADA V/ ANDREA IANNONE & FIM

Lausanne, 16 October 2020 - The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in the appeal arbitration procedures filed by the Italian MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took place on 15 October 2020.

The panel of arbitrators will now deliberate and finalise the Arbitral Award containing their decision. It is expected to be notified by mid-November 2020. The final award will be announced on the CAS website.

The proceedings concern the decision taken by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) International Disciplinary Court decision dated 31 March 2020 (the Challenged Decision) in which Andrea Iannone was found to have committed an anti-doping rule violation and an 18-month period of ineligibility was imposed on him.

Andrea Iannone seeks to have the Challenged Decision annulled, whereas WADA requests that the Challenged Decision be replaced by a new decision imposing a four-year period of ineligibility on the rider.

Source: 

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Cold Conditions Force Radical Overhaul Of Schedule At Aragon MotoGP Weekend - UPDATED

The cold conditions at the Motorland Aragon circuit have forced Dorna to radically overhaul the schedule for the remainder of the weekend. After suffering extremely low track temperatures, despite a delay of 30 minutes on Friday morning, and after discussing th events of practice in the Safety Commission and with the teams, the decision was made to move the entire schedule roughly an hour later than originally planned.

On Saturday, the sessions all kick off an hour later, with Moto3 FP3 at 10am, MotoGP FP3 at 10:55am, and Moto2 at 11:55am. The break between Moto2 FP3 and qualifying for Moto3 is 20 minutes shorter, Q1 for Moto3 starting at 13:15, 40 minutes later than originally planned. FP4 for MotoGP follows at 14:10, with Q1 at 14:50 and and Q2 at 15:15. Qualifying for Moto2 starts at 15:50.

Warmup on Sunday is pushed back by an hour and twenty minutes, while all of the races start an hour later than originally planned. Moto3 warm up starts at 10:00, Moto2 and 10:30, MotoGP at 11:00. The Moto3 race starts at 12:00 noon, Moto2 at 13:20, and MotoGP at 15:00. All these times are local, and the quickest way to convert those times is to go to the Aragon schedule page on the MotoGP.com website, and click on the "Your Time" radio button, if it is not already selected.

This is the second update to the schedule so far this weekend, and it may not be the last. Next weekend's schedule, where the MotoGP race is due to start at 13:00 local time to avoid a clash with F1 at Portimao, could also seen changes. It would be smart to set DVRs manually, and hold off for as long as possible.

The new schedule is below:

Saturday October 17th
10:00 10:40 Moto3 Free Practice 3
10:55 11:40 MotoGP Free Practice 3
11:55 12:35 Moto2 Free Practice 3
13:15 13:30 Moto3 Qualifying 1
13:40 13:55 Moto3 Qualifying 2
14:10 14:40 MotoGP Free Practice 4
14:50 15:05 MotoGP Qualifying 1
15:15 15:30 MotoGP Qualifying 2
15:50 16:05 Moto2 Qualifying 1
16:15 16:30 Moto2 Qualifying 2
17:10   Red Bull Rookies Cup Race 1 (15 laps)
       
Sunday October 18th
10:00 10:20 Moto3 Warm Up
10:30 10:50 Moto2 Warm Up
11:00 11:20 MotoGP Warm Up
12:00   Moto3 Race (19 laps)
13:20   Moto2 Race (21 laps)
15:00   MotoGP Race (23 laps)
16:30   Red Bull Rookies Cup Race 2 (15 laps)

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Valentino Rossi Tests Positive For Coronavirus, To Miss Aragon Round

Valentino Rossi has tested positive for Covid-19. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider came down with mild symptoms while at home on Thursday morning, was tested for the coronavirus, and the test came back positive. As a result of his positive test, Rossi will be forced to miss the first round at Aragon, and in all likelihood, the second race at the Motorland Aragon circuit as well.

Rossi's absence will put an end to any lingering hopes of a MotoGP title in 2020 he may still have had. That prospect was growing increasingly remote, however. The Italian was already 57 points behind the championship leader, Fabio Quartararo, after crashing out of three consecutive races. With just one podium so far in 2020, getting a shot at the title was already going to be difficult.

When Rossi returns is uncertain. When Jorge Martin tested positive for Covid-19 just before the first round at Misano, he was unable to return in time for the second race a week later, and Martin tested positive on the Tuesday before the Misano round. That makes it extremely likely that Rossi will be forced to miss both Aragon rounds.

The lateness of Rossi's positive Covid-19 test does make Yamaha's life a little easier. Under the rules, the factory team has to make their best efforts to find a replacement within 10 days. 10 days takes us up to next Sunday, the day of the second, Teruel round at Aragon.

The most obvious candidate to replace Valentino Rossi would be Jorge Lorenzo, but Lorenzo was 3 seconds a lap slower than Aleix Espargaro at the Portimao test, and clearly not up to speed, after being off the bike for so long. At Le Mans, Rossi was critical of his former teammate for not having trained on motorcycle in between the Sepang test and the resumption of the MotoGP season. "Jorge in Malaysia in February was not so bad. Because he did a good job and he was strong with the M1. He was close to us, to the normal riders," Rossi said.

But Lorenzo needed to ride other forms of motorcycles more often to be a capable test rider, Rossi insisted. "But after, he said that he never rode the bike until Portimao. So I think that Jorge is a great opportunity for Yamaha because he has a big potential, but if you want to make the test rider he needs to train, to use motorcycles. Because if you stay eight months without touch a motorcycle, after it's impossible to bring a MotoGP bike to the limit. So I think if Jorge wants to continue, he needs to test and to ride some other type of motorcycle during the season."

In all likelihood, Yamaha will forego the chance to put a replacement rider on the bike. The complication of finding a replacement rider and having them pass a coronavirus test makes it an easy choice to sit out these two races. An added benefit is that it would limit the mileage on Valentino Rossi's engines, the Italian having already lost an engine at the first race in Jerez. Since then, he hasnt used the second engine from Jerez either. By skipping both Aragon rounds, that would leave him with two relatively well-used engines and one engine which was only introduced in Barcelona, to last the final three rounds.

The press release from Yamaha appears below:


VALENTINO ROSSI TO MISS THE GRAND PRIX OF ARAGON

Alcañiz (Spain), 15th October 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing Srl regret to announce that Valentino Rossi will be unable to attend this weekend‘s Gran Premio de Aragón.

STATEMENT – 15th October 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing Srl regret to announce that Valentino Rossi will be unable to attend this weekend‘s Gran Premio de Aragón.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  • On Sunday 11th October, Rossi left the Le Mans circuit and travelled back to his home in Tavullia, Italy.
  • On Tuesday 13th October, Rossi underwent the usual PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, which is compulsory for those who visit their homes in between races. The result was available the next day and it was negative.
  • On Wednesday 14th October, Rossi was feeling fully fit and he trained at home without any symptoms or inconveniences.
  • On Thursday 15th October, he woke up in the morning and felt a bit sore. He had a slight fever and immediately called a doctor. The doctor conducted two tests:
    1. A ’quick PCR test‘, that again came back with a negative test result.
    2. A standard PCR test, of which the result arrived on Thursday 15th October, at 16:00 local time. Unfortunately this result was positive.
  • During Rossi‘s stay at his home from Sunday night (11th October) to today (15th October), he has NOT been in contact with any person that is currently present at the Gran Premio de Aragón, including VR46 Academy riders, VR46 staff, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team members etc.
  • Rossi's condition will be closely monitored by the medical staff in Tavullia.
  • The situation will be reviewed every day with a view to Rossi's participation at the upcoming MotoGP race events.

VALENTINO ROSSI

Unfortunately, this morning I woke up and I was not feeling good. My bones were sore and I had a slight fever, so I immediately called the doctor who tested me twice. The ’quick PCR test‘ result was negative, just like the test I underwent on Tuesday. But the second one, of which the result was sent to me at 16:00 this afternoon, was unfortunately positive. I am so disappointed that I will have to miss the race at Aragon. I'd like to be optimistic and confident, but I expect the second round in Aragon to be a ’no go‘ for me as well... I am sad and angry because I did my best to respect the protocol and although the test I had on Tuesday was negative, I self-isolated since my arrival from Le Mans. Anyway, this is the way it is, and I can't do anything to change the situation. I will now follow the medical advice, and I just hope I will be feeling well soon.

LIN JARVIS - MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

This is very bad news for Valentino and very bad news for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team and for all MotoGP fans around the world. First and foremost we hope Valentino will not suffer too much in the coming days and will recover fully in the shortest time possible.

It comes as a second blow for our MotoGP operations having faced the absence of Project Leader Sumi-san and five YMC engineers at the Le Mans race after one member tested positive – despite being fortunately totally asymptomatic.

These two incidents remind us that no matter how careful you are, the risk is always present - as we see with the rising numbers of infections in Europe at this time.

We have checked with the Italian health authorities and we have been advised that any member of our team that was in contact with Valentino up until Monday is excluded from direct risk.

Nevertheless, we will be even more attentive from now on to minimise the chance for any future issues.

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WorldSBK Rider Announcements: Rinaldi Replaces Davies, Locatelli Joins Razgatlioglu, Nozane Joins Gerloff

The 2021 WorldSBK rider line up is starting to solidify, as announcements start to trickle out of the World Superbike paddock. In the last few days, Yamaha and Ducati have announced their rider line ups for next season.

Today, Ducati finally presented Michael Ruben Rinaldi as partner to Scott Redding in the factor Aruba.it Racing team. Rinaldi has impressed in the Go Eleven squad this year, not least by winning Race 1 and ending on the podium in the Superpole race and Race 2 of the Teruel round earlier this year. Ducati have been cultivating Rinaldi for a few years with a view to moving up to the factory team for some years now.

Rinaldi's promotion means there is no room for current rider Chaz Davies. Davies has been with Ducati since 2014, and has struggled to match the form he showed on the V-twin on the Panigale V4R. At the moment, Davies is without a seat, and no clear ride for him to take. There is a chance he could end up beside Alvaro Bautista on the Honda CBR1000RR-R, but that is far from certain.

A few days earlier, Yamaha announced they would be moving newly-crowned WorldSSP champion Andrea Locatelli up to the Pata Yamaha factory WorldSBK squad, to replace the departing Michael van der Mark. Locatelli's promotion is logical, given the way the Italian has utterly dominated the World Supersport category, winning 11 of the 13 race so far. Locatelli will join Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Locatelli's move to the Pata Yamaha squad means that Garrett Gerloff will remain with the GRT Yamaha Junior team for another season. Gerloff will be joined by Kohta Nozane, Yamaha's leading rider in the Japanese All-Superbike championship. Nozane has raced in the FIM EWC endurance championship with the YART team, and is one of two MotoGP test riders for Yamaha, alongside Katsuyuki Nakasuga. The GRT team will get 2021-spec Yamaha R1s, given them identical machinery to the factory Pata Yamaha squad. Loris Baz will continue in the Ten Kate Yamaha  squad.

Below are the press releases from Yamaha and Ducati:


Michael Ruben Rinaldi will ride the official Ducati Panigale V4 R of the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team in the 2021 WorldSBK season

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is pleased to announce that the Italian rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi - alongside teammate Scott Redding - will defend the colours of the Italian squad in the 2021 WorldSBK season with the official Ducati Panigale V4 R.

Michael Ruben Rinaldi was born in Rimini on 21st December 1995 and started racing with the minimoto when he was 7 years old, winning the Italian championship in 2006. After winning the Italian Sport Production Championship in 2011, in 2014 he faced his first international experience in the European Superstock 600 championship, which closed as runner-up in 2015. In 2016 Rinaldi rode the Ducati Panigale R of the Aruba.it Racing - Junior team in the SuperStock 1000 FIM championship, finishing sixth and then conquering the European Champion title at the end of the following season. With the Aruba.it Racing - Junior team, Michael Ruben Rinaldi also made his WorldSBK debut in the 2018 season, racing only in European rounds and then competing in all events of the 2019 Championship with the Barni Racing Team. In the current season, Rinaldi obtained his first success in WorldSBK with the Panigale V4 R of the Go Eleven team in Race-1 at Aragon, round that saw him finish on the podium also in the Superpole Race (P3) and Race-2 (P2).

Stefano Cecconi (Team Principal Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)

"It's with great enthusiasm that we welcome Michael to our team. It is a source of great satisfaction for us as well as a confirmation of the goodness of the project we undertook five years ago with the Junior team. Rinaldi himself was one of the great protagonists, achieving important results: the same results we expect him to achieve from next season on. A big thank to Chaz Davies for all the years we have spent together since we decided – together with Aruba.it - to embark on this fascinating adventure and during which a bond of deep respect and trust was created. The affection for the man and the rider will always remain intact, and for this reason, we want to wish Chaz the best for the future, both inside and outside the track".

Luigi Dall' Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse)

"We are pleased to welcome Michael Ruben Rinaldi to the official team. This year Michael has shown great competitiveness, crowned by the Aragon victory, and has always been fighting for top positions. We believe that the time has come for him to join the official team and we are convinced that he has a bright future ahead of him. I want to thank Chaz, who has been an excellent ambassador for our brand over the past seven years and has achieved some very important results with us: 27 victories plus another 59 podiums finish and three consecutive second places in the world championships. We will try to close in the best way our adventure together in the next race weekend in Estoril".

Michael Ruben Rinaldi

"After an exciting journey in Ducati, joining the official team is an honour for me, as well as confirmation of the quality of the work done over the years. My first target will be to repay, through the results, the trust that has been given to me. For an Italian rider, racing with Ducati is an extraordinary feeling, and I am sure that the passion of the Ducati people will give me an extra boost. I would like to thank Stefano Cecconi and the Aruba family who have always believed in me, and Daniele Casolari, Serafino Foti and the whole Feel Racing for supporting me over the years. A special thought to Claudio Domenicali, Gigi Dall' Igna and Paolo Ciabatti for having involved me in this new project. Finally, I would like to involve the Ramello family, Denis Sacchetti and all the guys in the Go Eleven team in an ideal embrace. Thanks to them, I was able to make an important quality leap that allowed me to reach this great goal. And of course, I would like to thank my family for having supported me from the beginning together with Germano Bertuzzi whose support has been fundamental. I feel I can promise them all my utmost commitment to achieving great results together".


Yamaha Confirms Exciting Young Rider Line-Up for 2021 WorldSBK Campaign

Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to confirm that the reigning FIM Supersport World Champion Andrea Locatelli will join Toprak Razgatlıoğlu at the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team for the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship campaign. With Garrett Gerloff remaining at the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for 2021, where he will be joined by Japanese ace Kohta Nozane, it means that Yamaha will field one of the youngest rider line-ups in the championship.

Locatelli has enjoyed a stellar maiden WorldSSP season with the Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team, scoring a record-breaking 11 victories that saw him seal the title with two rounds to spare in Barcelona. Prior to this year’s success, the 23-year-old Italian arrives with six years of Grand Prix experience, in which he took a pair of podium finishes in the 2016 Moto3 championship.

On his WorldSSP debut, Locatelli scored a dominant victory in Phillip Island and continued to make waves after the season resumed, winning the next eight races in a row and taking his pole position tally to six, while last time out in Magny-Cours he broke another record, this time for most points scored in a single season. For 2021 the Italian will step up to the Pata Yamaha squad to partner Phillip Island race-winner Razgatlıoğlu, who remains in contention for third in the standings ahead of the Estoril finale.

Gerloff joined the WorldSBK championship from an impressive stint in the United States, in which he was crowned the MotoAmerica Supersport champion in both 2016 and 2017 and scored four victories on his way to third place in the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike standings. The American has impressed with his quick adaptation to the WorldSBK championship and has been fully integrated into the GRT Yamaha squad, which for 2021 will be running the latest-spec Yamaha R1 machinery, identical to the Pata Yamaha bikes.

Throughout 2020, the 25-year-old continued to improve and claimed a breakthrough podium with a scintillating performance in Barcelona WorldSBK Race 2, while he also showed race-winning potential in the opening race at a wet Magny-Cours on his first visit to the circuit. After a debut season disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, remaining with GRT Yamaha for 2021 will provide Gerloff with the stability and familiarity that will be all-important as he gains experience at circuits he's yet to race at.

The American will be joined at the GRT Yamaha team by 2020 MFJ All-Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship leader Nozane, who will make his debut in the WorldSBK championship next year. The Japanese rider was the 2013 J-GP2 Class champion with Yamaha and is a multiple race-winner in the competitive JSB1000 series. This year, Nozane leads the championship having won every race so far, with just two double-header rounds remaining.

Alongside his national experience, the 25-year-old has also contested the FIM Endurance World Championship with the Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team and boasts a MotoGP outing with Yamaha in the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi.

Andrea Locatelli - Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team

I’m very proud and thankful to start this new adventure with Yamaha, it’s an important step for me after a great first year in the WorldSBK paddock. Thanks to Eric de Seynes, President of Yamaha Europe, Road Racing Manager Andrea Dosoli and Pata Yamaha Team Principal Paul Denning for trusting in me. I’m very excited to start working with the new team and my new crew chief Andrew Pitt, he’s a two-time world champion and has done a great job with Pata Yamaha. I’m also really looking forward to getting testing started, it’ll be the first time riding the Yamaha R1 for me and I can’t wait to get my preparations for the 2021 season underway.

Garrett Gerloff - GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team

I’m just super excited to be staying with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for the 2021 season. This year has been incredible; the people I work with on the team are exceptional, really positive and awesome people, so to be able to continue with them is fantastic. It’s going to be nice to hopefully have more of a normal year and to have some consistency in the team will be great for me. I’m really excited to be getting the new Yamaha R1 as well. Hopefully it will give us even more performance to take the fight to the current frontrunners in the championship. Thank you so much to Yamaha for continuing with me and giving me another opportunity to improve and show what I can do. I owe them and my team manager Filippo Conti everything. I think that we can do some great things next year and I’m more focused and determined than ever.

Kohta Nozane - GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team

I’ve felt WorldSBK would be the best place for me to keep growing as a rider, so I’m really happy to get a chance to race on the world stage again and I can’t thank Yamaha enough for the opportunity. I’ll be up against the best riders in the world on tyres different to what I use now, and almost all the circuits will be totally new to me, so I know it’s going to be a massive challenge. But, I take pride in being one of Japan’s top riders, so to live up to the expectations of Japanese fans as well as gain the respect of race fans around the world, I want to make my mark right from the start, so I’ll be doing all I can to be ready to race. I’ll be joining the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team and Garrett Gerloff has finished on the podium with them in his rookie season, so I know they’re strong and I can’t wait to work and grow with them next year. We’re in the middle of this year’s All Japan Road Race Championship and I’m leading in the points, so the goal is to come into WorldSBK as the All Japan JSB1000 Champion. My focus from here is on doing my best in the last two rounds of the season to take the title.

Andrea Dosoli - Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager

Yamaha Motor Europe is very excited to introduce this young and exciting rider line-up for the 2021 WorldSBK season. Obviously, this year we bid farewell to Michael van der Mark, who has made a significant contribution to Yamaha's WorldSBK program since joining us in 2017 and whom we wish all the best for the future. Replacing him we have a promising young talent in Andrea Locatelli, who was already a part of the Yamaha family. What he’s achieved in WorldSSP this year is incredible and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve alongside Toprak Razgatlıoğlu in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team next year. For Garrett Gerloff it was important to offer some stability after a debut WorldSBK season disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, which is why he will remain with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for 2021. He has shown this year that he's capable of fighting at the front, even at tracks he's not familiar with, so we're excited to see what he can do next season on the 2021 specification Yamaha R1 and with a strong team behind him. We’re also delighted to welcome Kohta Nozane, who’s been the standout rider in the All Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship this year, to the WorldSBK paddock. It’s important for both the series and for Yamaha to have a fast Japanese rider racing on the world stage and it means we’ll have the exciting prospect of having four riders representing three different continents on the 2021 WorldSBK grid.

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Six Yamaha Engineers To Miss Le Mans Due To Coronavirus

One unnamed Yamaha engineer has tested positive for Covid-19 in the period between Barcelona and Le Mans, and as a result of MotoGP's bubble structure, the group of six engineers, including M1 project leader Takahiro Sumi, have been quarantined in Andorra and are to miss the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Yamaha is flying in additional engineers to assist with their roles while the six are absent.

The group was staying in Andorra between races, traveling as a group. Because they were in a group, all six have been forced to miss Le Mans while further tests are being carried out, and while Yamaha decide what to do for Aragon. The infected engineer is not currently showing symptoms, fortunately, and is able to continue working, as are the other members of the group. But they are being forced to work remotely, as opposed to being actually at the track.

The absence of six engineers, including the M1 project leader Sumi, is an inconvenience for Yamaha, but should not have a major impact on the Yamaha squad. The engineers are not working directly in one of the teams, but are involved in the overall project. The replacement engineers being flown in should be able to cover most of the work of the absent Yamaha staff.

The press release from Yamaha appears below:


SIX YAMAHA MOTOGP GROUP MEMBERS TO MISS THE GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE

Le Mans (France), 8th October 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing Srl regret to announce that six Yamaha MotoGP Group engineers, including YZR-M1 Project Leader Takahiro Sumi, will be unable to attend this weekend‘s Grand Prix de France.

STATEMENT – 8th October 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Racing Srl regret to announce that six Yamaha MotoGP Group engineers, including YZR-M1 Project Leader Takahiro Sumi, will be unable to attend this weekend‘s Grand Prix de France.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

  • Due to restrictions in travel, several of Yamaha‘s MotoGP staff are frequently staying in Andorra in the breaks between the back-to-back rounds. On this occasion, after taking the usual PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test on Monday before the planned departure from Andorra, one member of Yamaha‘s engineering staff received a positive test result for Covid-19 on the Tuesday. The other five members of the YMC engineers group received negative test results.
  • 24 hours later a further test was done to double-check the first test results. The test results were identical, confirming the initial positive Covid-19 test result for one member and negative results for the other five members.
  • As a consequence, all six YMC engineers in this travel group are now self-isolating in Andorra and will not be attending the upcoming race weekend in Le Mans, France.
  • Yamaha Motor Racing Srl is currently arranging for alternative staff to come to Le Mans during the coming days to support the riders at the French GP.
  • YZR-M1 Project Leader Takahiro Sumi and the five GP support engineers will stay in touch with the team staff at the Le Mans track using the new communications tools that the team has used since the restart of this Covid-19 affected 2020 MotoGP racing season. This new communications system allows them to stay remotely connected with the team crew and the riders in the pit box before, during, and after each session on track. Thanks to this technical solution, the self-isolating engineers will still be able to share their expertise and offer their best support to the staff present in Le Mans.
  • The infected engineer does not currently show signs of illness but will continue to be monitored by his colleagues and medical staff in Andorra.
  • The situation will be reviewed in the middle of next week with a view to the group‘s participation at the coming MotoGP events in Aragon, Spain.
Source: 

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News Round Up: Portimao MotoGP Test, A Frigid French Grand Prix, And Diggia's Future

The MotoGP schedule is already packed, the riders coming off a free weekend after completing one triple-header before embarking on the next, at Le Mans and Aragon twice. But about half the MotoGP grid has an appointment on the Algarve before they start a weekend of racing at Le Mans. On Wednesday and Thursday, thirteen full-time riders and seven test riders will take to the track at Portimao for a combined MotoGP test and track familiarization session.

The test serves several purposes: for the manufacturers to gather information about the track, and find a base setup and gearing to serve as a starting point for when MotoGP returns for the final round of the 2020 season; for Michelin, to get an idea of the kinds of tires needed at the circuit; and for the riders to assess the circuit in terms of safety and to understand the layout. The test riders will be riding MotoGP machines, while the contracted riders will be using production bikes to get to know the track.

The contracted riders will be riding at Portimao on Wednesday, to allow them to get to Le Mans on time ahead of the start of the Grand Prix weekend. The test riders will be riding on both days, and have the track to themselves on Thursday. Their main objective is to assess the tires to be used by Michelin for the race in November. The test riders will be using Michelin's race slicks, while the full-time riders will be using Michelin's commercially available Power Slick Evo sold for track day use.

Contracted riders at Portimao on Wednesday:

Brad Binder, Pecco Bagnaia, Andrea Dovizioso, Pol Espargaro, Alex Marquez, Jack Miller, Joan Mir, Takaaki Nakagami, Miguel Oliveira, Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, Johann Zarco, Aleix Espargaro

Test riders at Portimao on Wednesday and Thursday:

Michele Pirro (Ducati), Stefan Bradl (Honda), Dani Pedrosa (KTM), Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki), Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha). Bradley Smith will be riding for Aprilia on Wednesday, before handing over test duties to Lorenzo Savadori on Thursday, so that Smith can get to Le Mans on time.

Ahead of the test, the six test riders spoke at a press conference held, as usual, by Zoom. The main objective, they explained, was to find a base setup and gearing which will work. "Tomorrow and Thursday I’m curious to try and help the official riders have a good base for the race with the gearbox, tires and new asphalt," Michele Pirro said. Jorge Lorenzo agreed this would be the main focus. "We’ll use this test especially to get the best gear box for the official riders and to test the tires, to understand in these conditions with this tarmac, which are the best for time attack and race distance."

Michele Pirro and Suzuki's Sylvain Guintoli have some experience at the track, with Guintoli having raced at Portimao several times when he was in WorldSBK. The Frenchman was full of praise for the circuit. "It’s a great track here, I’ve been here quite a few times with WorldSBK and it’s one of the best tracks, really, really nice," Guintoli said.

The biggest previous problem had been the bumps, which have been addressed by resurfacing the circuit. Guintoli was interested to see how much of an improvement that was. "I’m looking forward to experiencing the new track surface because that was the only problem before, it was quite bumpy. Now hopefully this is better, so it’s a great track and I think it will be a good track for us with the flowing line. I think the riders will have a lot of fun here, it’s like a roller coaster. It’s really nice to ride, lots of blind spots, fast, very interesting track; very technical."

Last year's bike

One curiosity is that Jorge Lorenzo will be riding a 2019 Yamaha M1, rather than a 2020 bike. "If I understand well, we’ll be on the same bike as Sepang, we weren’t able to bring the new bike," Lorenzo said. That had come as a surprise, as team boss Maio Meregalli had told Lorenzo he would be riding a 2020 machine. "I spoke with Maio some weeks ago and he told me that probably they would have the 2020 bike here. But now, two hours ago, I entered the box and they just had the 2019 bike."

Lorenzo was cagey about the reasons he wouldn't be riding the new machine. "They told me that they didn't have time to prepare the 2020 bike," he said. "It's a pity not to have the same bike as the official bikes, but I guess they tried the maximum to get the new bike here and they couldn’t. So we will test with what we have."

To some extent it is understandable in terms of cost to use older machines. After all, the Portimao test is more of a test of the circuit than of the bike. None of the manufacturers have any data with their MotoGP machines to use as a baseline for a testing comparison, and testing new parts is very much about only changing as few variables as possible.

But Jorge Lorenzo has also been the most underutilized of the test riders, mostly as a result of Yamaha's decision to focus their 2020 testing in Japan due to the inability of Japanese engineers to travel to Europe during the pandemic. "I want to believe and I really believe that they tried their best to do the maximum tests possible, but just the circumstances of Covid for some reasons stopped this from happening," Lorenzo told the media. "I believe without Covid we would have the 15 or 16 days that we had planned to do. But I don’t believe they are wasting their test rider, especially on purpose, because I think economically speaking they can be the factory that spent more money on it. So it's not logical to think like that."

The test starts on Wednesday morning at 9am Portuguese time. Live timing will be available on a separate website, which you can find here.

Cold front

At Le Mans, the MotoGP riders face almost unprecedented conditions. Normally, MotoGP heads to the French circuit in May, but the pandemic reshuffle means the series travels to Le Mans in mid-October. That makes weather conditions even more of a lottery than normal. The forecast is for rain, but also for exceptionally cold temperatures when it is dry.

That could pose a challenge for Michelin. The French tire manufacturer has brought some of its softest tires to Le Mans, knowing that temperatures were likely to be challenging. But if it is dry, they could face the coldest temperatures they have ever had to deal with since taking over as official tire supplier in 2016. The previous record came during FP1 at Valencia last year, where ground temperatures were just 9°C, though that was taken in the shade. "The 9°C this morning were a little bit fake because the track temperature sensor was in the shadow in pit lane. So it was a little bit higher," Marc Márquez explained at the time.

Though there isn't an official figure given by Michelin, the MotoGP tires really require a track temperature of at least 11°C to start operating fully. The current prediction for Le Mans is that air temperatures in the morning will be around 8°C, which could cause problems. In addition, the weak October sun – if it decides to show itself – will take some time to raise the track temperature up to a more workable level.

This doesn't mean that conditions will be impossible. Despite the cold temperatures at Valencia last year, the riders were able to ride without requiring any more attention than is usual at Turn 4, the first right hander after a series of lefts. Le Mans should be easier, as there is a better mix of left and right handers. But if it is dry and cold for the morning sessions, riders will have to approach it with care.

The rain may make all this speculation moot, of course. Michelin's rain tires are capable of handling the cold temperatures in wet conditions exceptionally well. Rain could also shake up the 2020 championship even further.

Diggia's upgrade

While the 2021 MotoGP line up is nearing completion, the focus is switching to the Moto2 class. According to the usually well-informed TV channel Sky Sports Italia, Fabio Di Giannantonio could be about to leave the Speed Up team and join Gresini for 2021. Di Giannantonio rode for the Italian squad in 2018, where he finished runner up to Jorge Martin in the Moto3 championship.

Signing for Gresini opens an extra door for Di Giannantonio. The Gresini squad are expecting to split with Aprilia in MotoGP at the end of 2021, when the current five-year contracts between Dorna and the teams comes to an end. From 2022, Aprilia are expected to enter on their own as a fully-fledged factory squad, leaving Gresini to become a satellite team. Being on a Moto2 machine for Gresini would put Di Giannantonio at the front of the queue to fill the newly-created MotoGP seats.

Inside the paddock, Gresini are widely expected to continue with Aprilia as a satellite squad. Aprilia are not the only option, however. Suzuki are also looking at the possibility of supplying a satellite team, and Gresini could well be one of the candidates to take on that role. Currently, paddock gossip suggests that the VR46 team is leading the race for the Suzuki satellite bikes. But Gresini's long experience in MotoGP could give them an advantage.

Whether Suzuki will actually supply satellite bikes is still to be resolved however. That is a decision which is likely to be taken over the winter break, when Suzuki start to make plans beyond the end of 2021.


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The 2021 MotoGP Rider Line Up Nearly Complete: Four Question Marks Remain

With the announcement of their line up for the Factory and Pramac teams, Ducati has brought the 2021 MotoGP silly season a big step nearer to its close. The two pairings of Jack Miller/Pecco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco/Jorge Martin means that only four seats remain open, and of those, only two are truly uncertain.

The known unknowns, to steal a phrase, concern the LCR Honda seat and the Avintia Ducati seat vacated by Johann Zarco. Takaaki Nakagami is still in talks with HRC over his seat at LCR Honda, the only open question whether he will get an update to the 2021 Honda RC213V, or have to contend with the 2019 bike he is still racing (the engine and aerodynamics freeze mean that the 2021 spec bike will be the same as the 2020 machine currently being ridden by Cal Crutchlow, Alex Marquez, and Stefan Bradl as Marc Marquez' temporary replacement).

Enea Bastianini has already announced that he will be riding for Ducati in 2021, with the seat left empty at Avintia Ducati by Johann Zarco the place where the young Italian will land. Tito Rabat currently has a contract to race with Avintia in 2021, but he has a decision to make on whether he wants to continue. If not, then Luca Marini is expected to move up from Moto2.

That leaves the seat in the Aprilia Gresini team. The seat is technically being held open for Andrea Iannone, should the Italian win his appeal against his doping ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But the seat is mostly likely to go to either Andrea Dovizioso or Cal Crutchlow, with Dovizioso believed to be the favorite. Dovizioso's decision to take the Aprilia ride will hinge on whether he believes the bike can be competitive or not.

The officially announced 2021 MotoGP rider lin up so far:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
Pol Espargaro Honda RC213V 2022
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
Ducati Factory
Jack Miller Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
     
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2022
     
     
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder KTM RC16 2021
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2021
     
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Danilo Petrucci KTM RC16 2021
Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 2021
     
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha M1 2022
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2021
     
Pramac Ducati
Jorge Martin Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2022
Johann Zarco Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
     
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
     
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat Ducati 2021
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Ducati Confirm Factory And Pramac Line Ups: Bagnaia Joins Miller, Martin Moves Up With Zarco

As Pecco Bagnaia let slip at Barcelona on Sunday night, Ducati today announced their rider line up for the 2021 season, in both the factory team and the Pramac squad. As expected, there were no surprises: Pecco Bagnaia gets a promotion to the factory team alongside Jack Miller, while Johann Zarco is promoted to the Pramac team, where he will be partnered with current Moto2 rider Jorge Martin.

Bagnaia had been expected to get the nod over Zarco after a string of strong performances since his return from injury. It had been clear that the Italian had made a big step forward during testing and at the first two races at Jerez, his march stymied only by a crash at Brno in which he broke his leg. Though Zarco had been strong at Brno, grabbing pole and a podium, since then, his star has waned a little.

The announcement of Jorge Martin had been widely trailed, going as far back as the Jerez tests. Martin had been expected to move up to MotoGP with KTM, as Martin has raced with KTM in both Moto3 and Moto2, but Ducati's policy of aggressively chasing young talent secured Martin's services early on. That he had signed for Ducati was an open secret, merely awaiting official confirmation.

All four riders will race the latest spec of Ducati Desmosedici, the GP21. However, the cost-cutting measures agreed to address the Covid-19 pandemic means that engines and aerodynamic packages will remain frozen for the start of the 2021 season, meaning that the only differences between a GP20 and a GP21 will be in the chassis.

As for contract length, Ducati is running on two different tracks. The more experienced talent - Jack Miller and Johann Zarco - are on 'prove it' 1+1 contracts, with a contract for 2021 and an option for 2022. The two youngsters, Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin, have two-year contracts through 2022.

The Ducati press release makes no mention of Avintia. At Misano, Enea Bastianini told MotoGP.com that he had signed for Ducati, and he is expected to take the seat vacated by Johann Zarco. The second seat belongs to Tito Rabat contractually, but Rabat has struggled since his crash at Silverstone in 2018, and has pondered making a switch to a role as a rider coach. If he decides to step away from racing, then his place could be taken by Luca Marini, the Sky VR46 rider currently leading the Moto2 championship.

The press releases from Ducati Corse, the Ducati Factory team, and the Pramac Ducati team appear below:


Ducati Corse announces the official Ducati Team and Pramac Racing Team riders' line-up for the 2021 MotoGP season

Ducati Corse is pleased to announce the name of the four Ducati's official riders for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship. Francesco Bagnaia will join forces with the official team alongside the already confirmed Jack Miller. At the same time, Johann Zarco and Jorge Martín will defend the colours of the Pramac Racing Team for next season.

Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia, Moto2 World Champion in 2018, made his MotoGP debut last year with the Ducati Desmosedici GP bike of the Pramac Racing Team and has shown this year ever-increasing competitiveness, fighting for the podium in several GPs. In 2021, the 23-year-old rider hailing from Piedmont will join his current teammate Jack Miller in the Ducati Team, who is in his seventh season in the premier class.

Jack Miller, 25 years old, Australian rider from Townsville, made his debut in the World Championship in 2011 in the 125-cc class. After fighting for the Moto3 World Title in 2014, he stepped up straight to MotoGP in 2015 competing in 93 races in the category and for the last three seasons with the Pramac Racing Team.

The two new riders of the Pramac Racing Team have three World Titles overall together. Johann Zarco, a 30-year-old French rider, won the Moto2 World Title in 2015 and 2016 and this year he is competing in MotoGP with the Ducati bike of Team Esponsorama, with whom he took pole position and a third place in the race in Brno. With him, in the Borgo Panigale factory-supported team there will be a rookie in the category, Spaniard Jorge Martín, 22 years old, 2018 Moto3 World Champion in his current second season in Moto2.

All four official riders will ride the latest version of the Desmosedici GP bikes with same technical specifications.

Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding: "Racing is an evolving advanced technology incubator that is a fundamental part of our company. It is essential to continue to invest in research and development and not to be afraid to innovate and renew to be successful. That's why I am thrilled with the inclusion of young and talented riders who make us look to the future with optimism and a constant desire to improve. Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia have shown this year that they can take advantage of the potential of our Desmosedici GP bike and have earned this opportunity. Their transition to the official team from the Pramac Racing Team, where they both grew up, is proof of the efficient collaboration that binds us to the team of Paolo Campinoti, which I would like to thank. I am sure that next year his team will be able to make the most of the talent of the two new riders Johann Zarco and Jorge Martín. Now, however, we are focused on the current season, because we want to get the best possible results with our two riders: Andrea, who in these eight years with us has been runner up in the World Championship for three consecutive years, won 14 GPs, thus becoming the most successful Ducati rider after Stoner, and is still in the fight for the world title this year and Danilo. Danilo, who is working hard to get back to fighting for the podium. Together with them, we will do everything to conclude our beautiful adventure together in the best possible way".


Francesco Bagnaia joins Jack Miller in the Ducati Team for the 2021 season

Ducati Corse is pleased to announce that it will be Francesco Bagnaia to defend the colours of the Ducati Team in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship, alongside the already confirmed Jack Miller. The rider from Piedmont, 23 years old, will move to the official team for next season, after his first two years in MotoGP with Pramac Racing, the factory-supported team of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer.

Born in Turin in 1997, Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia made his debut in the Moto3 World Championship in 2013 and then stepped up to Moto2 in 2017, winning the World Title in this category in 2018. In 2019, he moved up to MotoGP with the Pramac Racing Team, and this year Pecco has stood out on many occasions with his Desmosedici GP bike, taking his first podium in the Lenovo Grand Prix of San Marino and the Rimini Riviera, that he closed in second place.

Francesco Bagnaia: "I'd chosen to be a Ducati rider even before becoming a Moto2 World Champion in 2018, and they had chosen me even before I had known that one day I would become one. It was our bet because until that moment I had always been a fast rider, but I had nothing concrete under my belt: Ducati decided to believe in it even before everyone else. We didn't know how it was going to go, but to this day, if I had to go back, I'd do it all over again. My MotoGP debut was not easy, but at Ducati, they never questioned me: they gave me all the support and confidence that a rookie needs and they let me do experience in 2019. I listened to them, I trusted them, together we learned to know each other and understand each other, and now we form a great team. They taught me a method of work that allowed us to take away some nice satisfactions and I think that's just the beginning. Today I am the happiest person in the world, for me, it is a dream come true: being an official Ducati rider has always been my ambition, and I succeeded together with all of those who had always believed in me even when things did not go well. A special thank goes to Claudio Domenicali, Gigi Dall'Igna, Paolo Ciabatti and Davide Tardozzi for the trust, to the Pramac Racing Team that welcomed me as a family and to the VR46 Riders Academy that has always supported me all these years".

Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding: "Racing is an evolving advanced technology incubator that is a fundamental part of our company. It is essential to continue to invest in research and development and not to be afraid to innovate and renew to be successful. That's why I am thrilled with the inclusion of young and talented riders who make us look to the future with optimism and a constant desire to improve. Pecco and Jack have shown this year that hey can take advantage of the potential of our Desmosedici GP and have earned this opportunity. Their transition to the official team from the Pramac Racing Team, where they both grew up, is proof of the efficient collaboration that binds us to the team of Paolo Campinoti, which I would like to thank. Now, however, we are focused on the current season, because we want to get the best possible results with our two riders: Andrea, who in these eight years with us has been runner up in the World Championship for three consecutive years, won 14 GPs, thus becoming the most successful Ducati rider after Stoner, and is still in the fight for the world title this year and Danilo. Danilo, who is working hard to get back to fighting for the podium. Together with them, we will do everything to conclude our beautiful adventure together."


Pramac Racing Team together with Johann Zarco and Jorge Martín for the 2021 season

Johann Zarco and Jorge Martín will be the two Pramac Racing Team riders in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

A delighted Paolo Campinoti, Team Principal of Pramac Racing, stated:

"We are happy to have reached an agreement with Johann and Jorge. We want to continue an important project that is giving us great satisfaction. The sporting qualities and the winning mentality of the two riders are extremely well known: expectations are therefore high. We know Johann well, and we have a very positive feeling with him: the same will be with Jorge".

Johann Zarco (Cannes, 16 July 1990) is a French rider, two-time Moto2 World Champion in 2015 and 2016.

Jorge Martín Almoguera (Madrid, 29 January 1998) is a Spanish rider, winner of the Moto3 World Championship in 2018. 2021 will be his first MotoGP Championship season in the premier class.


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The 2021 MotoGP Rider Line Up So Far: Waiting For Ducati

With Valentino Rossi finally confirmed at the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, the rider line up for 2021 is getting close to completion. The factory seats at Honda, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha are filled, as are the satellite seats at KTM and Yamaha.

The nominally vacant seat at LCR Honda is destined to be taken by Takaaki Nakagami once again, the Japanese rider still in talks with HRC management over whether he will get a 2021 spec RC213V or a 2020 bike. Nakagami's performance so far on the 2019 bike has shown him worthy of getting the latest spec, but those details will take a while to thrash out.

The next question to be answered will come some time next week, when Ducati announce their plans for 2021 and beyond. They are expected to move Pecco Bagnaia into the factory team and Johann Zarco up to the Pramac squad. Jorge Martin is likely to join Zarco in Pramac, while Enea Bastianini should head to Avintia.

Whether Bastianini joins Tito Rabat in Avintia or not is still open to question. Though Rabat has a contract with Avintia for 2021, there is some talk that Rabat might move to a different role, and Luca Marini move up to MotoGP to take his place.

The biggest question is what happens with Aprilia. That will only be resolved once Andrea Iannone's appeal against is doping ban has been heard at the CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in October. Then, Aprilia must decide whether to keep Iannone or sig another rider, with Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso in play. Dovizioso will likely control that decision, depending on whether he decides to race in 2021, or take on a role as test rider for a season and contemplate a return in 2022.

Below is the rider contract status so far for 2021:

Rider Bike Contract until
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2022
Fabio Quartararo Yamaha M1 2022
     
Repsol Honda
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2024
Pol Espargaro Honda RC213V 2022
     
Suzuki Ecstar
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
Joan Mir Suzuki GSX-RR 2022
     
Ducati Factory
Jack Miller Ducati Desmosedici GP21 2021 (option for 2022)
     
     
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2022
     
     
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Brad Binder KTM RC16 2021
Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2021
     
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Danilo Petrucci KTM RC16 2021
Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 2021
     
Petronas Yamaha SRT
Franco Morbidelli Yamaha M1 2022
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2021
 
LCR Honda
Alex Márquez Honda RC213V 2022
     
Avintia Ducati
Tito Rabat* Ducati 2021

* Rabat has a contract for 2021, but may be replaced

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Official At Last: Valentino Rossi Confirmed At Petronas Yamaha SRT For 2021 MotoGP Season

Valentino Rossi at Misano in 2020 - Photo Cormac Ryan Meenan

The deal is done at last. Today, the Petronas Yamaha SRT team has announced that Valentino Rossi will partner Franco Morbidelli in 2021. Rossi has signed a one-year extension of his contract with Yamaha, to race in the Petronas Yamaha SRT team.

This has been a long and difficult negotiation since the beginning of the year. Back then, Yamaha had faced the problem of trying to fit three riders into their factory Monster Energy team.

Ducati had been chasing both Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo, and Yamaha did not want to lose their two young riders. Rossi had told Yamaha that he wanted to wait for the first five or six races before making a decision on whether he would retire, or stay on for another year. Yamaha moved to fend off Ducati's attempted poaching of Viñales and Quartararo by signing them to the factory team, and offering Rossi a factory-supported Yamaha M1 if he decided to continue.

That meant Rossi and Petronas were condemned to one another, if you can use such a phrase for the most successful premier class rider in history and the best satellite team in MotoGP. And each side had their own list of demands: Rossi wanted to bring his entire crew with him, along with various others, Petronas were willing to take only his crew chief David Muñoz and data engineer Matteo Flamigni. Then there was sorting out the mass of sponsors on both sides.

At Jerez, it became clear that Rossi would only be allowed to bring Muñoz, Flamigni, and rider coach Idalio Gavira to Petronas. That sparked a long negotiation over the rest of the conditions, the final details of which were only settled in the week between the two races in Misano, when Petronas Yamaha boss Razlan Razali visited the VR46 headquarters along with Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis. That resulted in the deal signed in Barcelona.

Rossi's move leaves the remainder of his crew in a difficult position. Mechanics Alex Briggs and Brent Stephens have been told there is no place for them in Yamaha, mostly a question of travel costs. Briggs lives in Australia, and Stephens in New Zealand, and both were used to flying home in between races. American Mark Elder will stay with Yamaha, as will Belgian Bernard Ansiau, it is believed.

The fact that this is a one-year deal is another reason Petronas were not keen on taking Rossi's crew. Briggs, Stephens, and Ansiau have all been with Rossi for a very long time, most since he arrived in the premier class with Honda. If they had decided to retire along with Rossi, Petronas would have been forced to look for replacements. That was not a task they relished after investing so much time in putting together their team at the beginning of the 2019 season.

Will 2021 be the end of Valentino Rossi's MotoGP career? It is too early to say. He already has a podium this season, and believes he is capable of more. If he fares worse in 2021 than he does this year, then he may decide to hang up his helmet, especially given that there are talks of the VR46 team making a move up to MotoGP.

But that is all still a long way off. For the moment, Valentino Rossi stays on for another year.

Below are the press releases from Petronas and from Yamaha announcing the deal:


Valentino Rossi to join PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2021

9-times World Champion confirmed to continue in MotoGP with the Malaysian squad together with Franco Morbidelli

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team is proud to announce that Valentino Rossi will join the squad for the 2021 MotoGP season. Valentino Rossi needs no introduction, considered by many as the Greatest Of All Time through a record-breaking career in the premier class of the sport since 2000.

Rossi – Urbino, 16th February 1979 – has competed in the premier class since 2000 and is the only rider in history to win 125, 250, 500 and MotoGP World Championships. In the premier class alone, Valentino boasts seven world titles, 89 race wins, 199 podiums, 55 pole positions and 76 fastest laps. As part of PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in 2021, the Italian will compete aboard a Yamaha YZR-M1 for the ninth season in a row.

The move will see Rossi join the satellite team in what will be only their third season in the MotoGP category, after the Malaysian squad made their debut at the Qatar GP in 2019. That first season in the premier class saw PETRONAS Yamaha SRT rack up six pole positions and seven podiums, and win the Independent Teams’ Championship. This year has already seen two pole positions, four podiums and three race wins, and the lead of the outright Teams’ Championship, for the outfit.

The announcement of Rossi alongside fellow countryman and friend Franco Morbidelli completes the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT line-up for 2021 – a line-up eager to write another chapter of MotoGP history next year.

Razlan Razali - Team Principal

On behalf of PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team and all its partners, it is an absolute honour to welcome Valentino Rossi – an iconic rider and legend into the team next year. His experience will be a great asset to the team as we move into our third season in MotoGP and we are sure we will be able to learn a lot from Valentino. At the same time, we will do our absolute best to assist him to be competitive to reward him for the trust he has in us as a team. We are humbled by this opportunity and ready to take on the challenge. We believe that the combination of Valentino and Franco will provide a truly formidable force on track to help us in our goal of being as competitive as possible together next year. We can’t wait!

Johan Stigefelt - Team Director

To be able to sign a rider like Valentino Rossi, for what will be only our third year in the MotoGP championship, is amazing. We have evolved from a Moto3 team to a Moto2 team to a MotoGP team in a short time frame and now to be leading the MotoGP teams’ championship and signing one of the greatest riders the sport has ever known is incredible. It has been a long time since Valentino was in a satellite team and we will try our best to help him feel like new again. We want to make sure that he feels comfortable in our team, which we trust in and believe in so much. Our target is to get even better as a team, help Rossi deliver the best results possible and make 2021 a memorable year.


YAMAHA MOTOR CO., LTD. SIGNS 2021 CONTRACT RENEWAL WITH VALENTINO ROSSI

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi have officially signed a one-year contract renewal for 2021. The Grand Prix racing icon will take part in next year‘s MotoGP World Championship as a Factory Yamaha rider for the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, with full support from Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

Montmelò (Spain), 26th September 2020

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has signed a one-year renewal agreement with Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi. Fans all over the world will be delighted to know that the nine-time World Champion will be participating in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship as a fully supported Factory Yamaha rider for the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.

Due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, Rossi was obliged to state his future intention to continue as a MotoGP rider before competing in a single 2020 MotoGP race. However, having completed seven GP weekends since then, the 41-year-old is certain that he made the right decision. He reunited with his beloved YZR-M1 showing competitive pace and has a lot of fight left in him.

The Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team wants to thank Rossi for his continuous contribution and effort. Currently competing in their 15th MotoGP season together, to date they have secured 4 world titles, 142 podiums, 56 victories, and competed in 250 races.

Rossi can be assured of the team‘s full support for the remainder of the 2020 championship. Everyone is fully focused on completing this season on a high note, as the team continues to push for the three World Championship titles.

LIN JARVIS - MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

We are delighted that Valentino will be staying in MotoGP for another year, and we are sure the fans of the sport feel the same way. A substantial part of the MotoGP fanbase will have grown up with Valentino and followed him throughout his career.

"This current and final season with the Factory Yamaha Team is his 25th in the motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship and his 15th year with Yamaha.

"Early on we assured Valentino that, should he stay in MotoGP for 2021, Yamaha would continue to give him full support and a Factory YZR-M1. In the end, this is exactly what he decided to do.

"I previously stated that this Covid-19 influenced MotoGP season would not be the appropriate year for such a legendary rider to close his career. Valentino has always been so popular with the fans all around the world, so it‘s great that he has decided to continue for at least another season. Hopefully the fans will be allowed back into the tracks next year to savour watching the GOAT in action again.

"I would like to thank the management of the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for their enthusiasm and full collaboration to welcome Valentino into their team. They are still quite a ’young‘ team, but they are very professional and serious contenders for race wins and feature in the top of the championship standings, so we are sure that Valentino will feel comfortable and be able to perform at his best level.

VALENTINO ROSSI - MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER

I am very happy to continue riding in 2021 and to do it with the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. I thought a lot before taking this decision, because the challenge is getting hotter and hotter. To be at the top in MotoGP you have to work a lot and hard, to train every day and lead an ’athlete's life‘, but I still like it and I still want to ride.

"In the first half of the year I made my choice and I talked with Yamaha, who agreed with me. They told me even if there was no place for me in the Factory Team, the factory bike and the factory support were guaranteed.

"I am very happy to move to PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. They are young, but they‘ve shown to be a top team. They are very serious and very well organised. For this year I also changed my crew chief. I‘m very happy with David, and I think we haven‘t reached our best yet. This was one of the reasons why I chose to continue, because the atmosphere in the team is something I like a lot.

"It‘ll be nice to have Franco as my team-mate, as he‘s an Academy rider, it‘s going to be cool. I think we can work together to make good things happen.

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