Saudi backers miss VR46 MotoGP press conference date

Valentino Rossi. Picture: MotoGP.com

The Saudi Prince whose interests are apparently backing Valentino Rossi’s new MotoGP team has failed to hold a press conference to explain the partnership as promised.

HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, his holding company Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media, and predominantly state-owned petroleum company Aramco are all linked to VR46’s step up to the premier class next year.

The Prince told Italian media late last week that a press conference would be held on Wednesday to provide details about the mysterious partnership.

He also claimed at that time that the backing amounted to $18 million per year and promised that the full amount would be provided to VR46 this week.

However, Wednesday has come and gone, and there has been no press conference, nor apparently a press release from Tanal, which made the original announcement in late-April.

That announcement, which was supposed to represent confirmation of VR46’s long-mooted move/expansion from the junior classes into MotoGP, named Aramco as the title sponsor.

Despite the Prince being an owner of Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, the company denied knowledge of the agreement and there seems to have been no change in that stance, at least publicly.

The doubts led to a theory that Rossi’s thoughts about putting off retirement were motivated by the potential to attract an alternate big-money sponsor by riding for VR46, before the Italian did indeed announce that he will be hanging up the helmet.

It was around the time of that retirement announcement that a report emerged from his native Italy claiming the 42-year-old was in talks to sell to the Prince/Tanal, which Rossi denied.

Already, at least one deadline for a press conference had come and gone, something which the Prince last week put down to red tape.

“We have an agreement with Valentino and VR46, but problems have arisen because we announced it too soon,” he explained.

“By law, these projects must be announced first at a national level and then at an international level.

“We are finalising the last details these days with the four ministries involved – sport, finance, international finance, and media – and next week – Wednesday – there will be an official government conference where we will give all the details.”

Saudi Arabia operates to UTC+3 time, and thus that Wednesday has now passed, with no word from the Prince or Tanal, a silence affirmed by reporting from Italy.

VR46 has been pressing on with its MotoGP project, sourcing supply of motorcycles from Ducati.

Luca Marini will fill one of the seats while current VR46 Moto2 rider Marco Bezzecchi is expected to join him in the premier class squad next year.

Round 12 of the current season, the British Grand Prix, takes place at Silverstone this weekend.

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