Rossi unlikely to race for own MotoGP team

Valentino Rossi. Picture:

Valentino Rossi is unlikely to race for VR46 despite his team being set to step up to MotoGP next year.

The 42-year-old is currently riding for SRT on a one-year contract with Yamaha, and has previously stated that he will make a decision on his future in the northern summer.

He is said to also have a performance clause which he must meet in order to be offered a renewal, yet is 19th in the championship after the first three rounds of 2021.

With Rossi’s junior team slated to move into MotoGP in its own right in 2022, the seven-time premier class champion theoretically has another option if he wishes to continue his long career as a rider.

Nevertheless, despite joking about the privileges which owning a team might afford him, the Italian poured cold water on the idea of taking one of the VR46 seats for himself.

“If I still want to race, I could keep a bike for myself, as I am the boss,” he laughed.

“In truth, this team doesn’t change much with my decision whether to continue or not because, as I’ve always said, it will depend on the results and my priority remains Petronas [SRT].

“So, at the moment, I would say that it is very difficult for me to race for my own team, but it is not 100 percent certain; things can change from one day to the next.

“Let’s say it’s difficult but not impossible but first we’ll have to see if I’ll be competitive; that will make the difference.”

‘The Doctor’ won his first three 500cc/MotoGP titles with Honda but has spent all but two of the last 18 seasons, including 2021, aboard Yamahas.

While VR46 CEO Alberto Tebaldi forecast an announcement on which manufacturer the team is linking with will be made at either of the two grands prix which take place later in May, he gave no hints as to which it might be.

Rossi similarly stated that no such decision has yet been made, and nominated all but Honda and KTM as possibilities.

“About bikes, we speak with everybody, sincerely,” said Rossi.

“Aprilia, Yamaha, Ducati… Suzuki also.

“I don’t know very well at this moment but I think it’s not decided yet.”

Another element to consider is the rumour that Rossi has a clause with Yamaha, dating back to his return to the Iwata marque in 2013, which precludes him from riding for any other manufacturer in MotoGP.

It could, if true, become a factor in VR46’s decision-making, although the veteran played that down and could not recall the existence of the clause anyway.

“As I said, the priority would be to continue with Petronas, but I honestly don’t remember this clause,” he remarked.

“Regardless of the bike, it will still be difficult for me to race in my team.”

Adding to the intrigue about the VR46 project is doubt over its stated title sponsor, Aramco.

It claims to have no knowledge of the agreement, which was announced by Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media without quotes/comment from that alleged sponsor or the team.

Rossi, however, believes that the deal has been done.

The Spanish Grand Prix takes place at Jerez this weekend, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder topping Practice 1.

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