VR46 confirms Ducati MotoGP bikes

Valentino Rossi, Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, and VR46 Esponsorama’s Luca Marini perform practice starts at Mugello. Picture: MotoGP.com

Valentino Rossi’s Team VR46 has confirmed that it will race Ducatis when it moves into MotoGP from next year.

The MotoGP legend’s academy has signed a three-year deal with the Bologna marque and a five-year participation agreement with Dorna Sports, the championship’s commercial rights holder, replacing Esponsorama on the grid.

Rossi had last month nominated Ducati and Yamaha each as fifty-fifty chances of supplying bikes to VR46, but the former of those manufacturers had become increasingly likely to do so in more recent times.

“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with VR46 for the next three years,” said Ducati Corse’s general manager, Luigi Dall’Igna.

“Their Academy has always worked seriously and with great professionalism, giving many riders the opportunity to gain experience in Moto2 and Moto3, and today they can be proud to have brought three young riders of great talent.

“VR46 has also shown that it is able to competently manage a successful team in Moto3 and Moto2 and therefore we will strive to provide the maximum technical support to their new team in MotoGP, convinced they have found in VR46 an ambitious and motivated partner like us, with a common goal to achieve great results together.”

It has also been announced that Pablo Nieto, currently team manager for VR46 in Moto2 and Moto3, will be promoted to team manager of the MotoGP squad.

Alessio Salucci, director of the VR46 Riders Academy, said, “We are happy to announce that in 2022 we will race in MotoGP with a team of two riders in the colours of the VR46.

“A journey that began a little over eight years ago with the birth of the VR46 Riders Academy, a beautiful adventure shared with Sky, a long, demanding journey, but full of satisfactions and which makes us very proud. This milestone has a truly unique meaning, but it is not an arrival point.

“Year after year, since 2013, we have grown, we have managed to write beautiful pages of our sport between Moto3 and Moto2 and we crossed our path with many young talents of Italian motorcycling that we have had the privilege of being able to support in their growth path and that we will continue to support from the classes lower up to the MotoGP.

“A key moment in our history that would not be it was possible without Carmelo Ezpeleta [Dorna CEO] who has always believed in this project and to Ducati for the trust he has placed in us for the future.”

Commercially, the MotoGP outfit will be known as ‘Aramco Racing Team VR46’ in a tie-up with Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media and the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (‘Aramco’).

There had been some doubt about the sponsorship when it was reported that Aramco was denying knowledge of the deal which Tanal had announced in late-April, but Rossi subsequently affirmed there was an agreement.

VR46 already has a presence in MotoGP, essentially as a sponsor of its own Academy rider Luca Marini in his rookie premier class season at Esponsorama Racing.

Marini will come across to VR46 next year while one of its current Moto2 riders, Marco Bezzecchi, has been nominated by Rossi as a strong candidate for the other seat.

For Ducati, the agreement means eight of its bikes on the grid on a full-time basis, the others being for its factory team, Pramac Racing, and outgoing Aprilia factory team, Gresini Racing.

It would also seem now that SRT will remain with Yamaha, while Aprilia will be represented by just its own team when it brings the programme inhouse, and Suzuki also by just its works squad.

The 2021 season resumes tonight (AEST) with practice for Round 9, the Dutch TT at Assen.

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