Saudi sponsor announces VR46 MotoGP entry from 2022
Thursday 29th April, 2021 - 9:00am
Valentino Rossi’s VR46 organisation will enter MotoGP as a team in its own right next year, according to its apparent Saudi Arabian backer.
The squad will be branded ‘Aramco Racing Team VR46’ thanks to backing from the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (‘Aramco’), and compete in the premier class from 2022 to 2026, matching the period of the new participation cycle.
VR46 will also be “maintaining its presence in the Moto2 class”, states the announcement from Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media, which describes itself as “the holding company of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud”.
There is no word on whether Rossi himself will ride for the team next year, nor what bikes it might run, although imagery released by Tanal appears to be of a Yamaha YZR-M1.
“Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media, the holding company of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, is pleased to announce an important strategic agreement with VR46 Team, Valentino Rossi’s company, for the near future of MotoGP,” read the announcement, in part.
“In 2022 the VR46 Team will debut in the MotoGP class together with Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media with Saudi Aramco, as the new Main Sponsor for the period 2022-2026: the new Aramco Racing Team VR46 will heat the track supported by other important sponsors of the world scene.”
Rossi currently rides for the Malaysian-owned SRT (Sepang Racing Team), Yamaha’s only satellite squad, on a one-year deal with the factory itself.
That deal, however, is said to include a performance clause which must be met in order to trigger a renewal offer, and the seven-time premier class champion is currently 19th in the standings after three rounds.
Furthermore, SRT has not yet re-signed with Yamaha, although team principal Razlan Razali claimed at this year’s season launch that it had addressed tensions it had with the Iwata marque and was willing to discuss a new agreement.
Adding to the intrigue, Yamaha Motor Racing’s managing director Lin Jarvis said at the factory team’s season launch that it was anticipating talks with VR46 over a MotoGP squad.
VR46 already has a presence in MotoGP as a sponsor of the Ducati ridden by Luca Marini at Avintia Racing, which is set to exit the premier class at season’s end.
Whether that makes Ducati a potential suitor is not clear, despite its desire to maintain six entries, including its own factory team and Pramac Racing.
Tanal’s announcement explains that, as well as promoting Saudi Arabia itself, the partnership is intended to further the development and production of road vehicles in the Middle Eastern nation.
The 2021 MotoGP season continues this weekend with the Spanish Grand Prix, at Jerez.