SRT reveals performance clause in Rossi’s new Yamaha deal

Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi will have to meet performance targets if he is to secure yet another deal with Yamaha beyond the upcoming MotoGP season, according to SRT.

The seven-time premier class world champion switches from Monster Energy Yamaha to Petronas Yamaha SRT this year, but on a contract with the factory.

That deal is for just the one season, a term which is a function, at least in part, of the impending end of the current MotoGP participation cycle.

According to SRT team principal Razlan Razali, Rossi has certain hurdles which he must clear in order to be offered another contract.

“We will have to look at it race by race with Valentino,” said Razali of continuing with the Italian next year, upon the Malaysian-owned squad’s season launch.

“And of course, like any other rider, I think the first six to seven races are crucial to see where he’s at.

“And Valentino being such an experienced rider, he will have a self-evaluation of his performance in the first six or seven races before he decides what to do.

“We are aware that in his contract with Yamaha there are certain targets he needs to achieve before any talks about continuation next year.”

Rossi onboard an M1 in SRT’s 2021 livery

It was Rossi’s need for self-evaluation which meant he would not sign a contract to race with Yamaha’s factory team beyond 2020 before that 2020 season had begun.

The legendary rider had just come off a shocking 2019 campaign and the Japanese marque would choose to replace him with Fabio Quartararo at its works squad.

Quartararo, on the other hand, had surprised in how well he had performed in what was a rookie MotoGP campaign that year, with an SRT operation which was also undertaking its maiden premier class season.

Last year it was another youngster in Franco Morbidelli, on the other SRT entry, who ended up being Yamaha’s best performer by finishing runner-up in the championship, despite running on an older-spec bike.

Morbidelli was renewed midway through last year but Rossi’s arrival represents a deviation from the youth policy at the team.

Aside from his status as one of the greats of motorcycle racing, the 42-year-old is also a stable option which suits the times, says Razali.

Rossi and Franco Morbidelli

“The proposition of having Vale in the team got much more viable and feasible because of the pandemic,” he explained.

“Because if it was a normal year, we would have looked at Valentino and other riders as well.

“But because of what happened last year, the option of Valentino became more attractive rather than selecting a rookie rider amidst this pandemic.

“We want to continue our performance on the track, we know we have a good rider in Franco, a young rider, but we also believe Valentino can bring stability and performance.

“When he is relaxed and happy with the bike, he can deliver that performance.

“So, it was more for the stability of the team and we make that great exception this year only with Valentino.”

Having apparently let out a teaser in a sponsorship announcement in January, SRT has now formally unveiled its 2021 livery.

Its YZR-M1s will continue to run with a black base and Petronas teal, while Rossi’s signature #46 retains the same typeface and yellow.

MotoGP’s 2021 Shakedown Test takes place at Losail on March 5 (local time), while the first Official Test follows at the Qatar Grand Prix venue on the next two days.

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