VR46 still linked with Saudi backers on 2022 Moto2 entry list

VR46 Moto2 rider Marco Bezzecchi. Picture: MotoGP.com

Saudi company Aramco has been listed as VR46’s naming rights sponsor on the 2022 Moto2 entry list, despite ongoing doubts surrounding Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP project.

The announcement of next year’s Moto2 squads reveals that Yamaha’s mooted junior team will indeed happen, with the Iwata marque listed alongside VR46 on another entry.

Those two squads are among the 15 which Dorna Sports has accepted for the 2022 intermediate class season, with the same number also set to populate the Moto3 grid.

Most notable on the Moto2 entry list are arguably ‘Aramco VR46 Team’ and ‘Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team’, the latter of which already exists in Europe’s CEV competition which feeds into Moto3.

Aramco is the state-controlled oil company of which Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, the front man for the apparent partnership with VR46, is an owner.

It was His Royal Highness’ holding company, Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media, which announced in late-April that Rossi’s team would step up to MotoGP as an entrant in its own right in 2022.

However, it took less than 24 hours for the purported title sponsor of ‘Aramco Racing Team VR46’ to deny knowledge of the deal, and little has been clarified since.

In recent weeks, Tanal has scheduled at least three media appointments regarding or related to VR46, yet missed all of them, with the Prince citing government red tape as the reason for one of those no-shows.

Rossi said that frequent questions about the project were a “distraction” from his riding, when questioned at last weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix about when VR46 would confirm its naming rights sponsor and riders for the Ducatis it will field in 2022.

At a function that weekend he did, however, name “Luca [Marini] and [Marco] Bezzecchi with the Ducatis” as two of four VR46 academy riders in MotoGP next year, although no formal press release has yet been issued.

There was also a report from Italy in August claiming that Rossi was in talks to sell the team to the Saudis, a prospect which he denied.

The retiring champion has nevertheless stated repeatedly that he is not across the detail of the project, instead leaving it to his management team.

However, the release of the Moto2 entry list suggests that VR46 has not given up on the Saudi partnership, despite the mystery.

The Yamaha tie-up, on the other hand, appears far more solid, even if Rossi was also somewhat hazy about it last weekend at Misano.

The two parties are already together in the FIM CEV Moto2 European Championship in an entry known as the ‘VR46 Master Camp Team’, while the ninth edition of the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp wrapped up at the VR46 Motor Ranch last month.

For the Iwata manufacturer, such a move into Moto2 gives it a structure similar to that which has yielded KTM several promising talents in recent years.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP riders Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder both came through its pipeline, while Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez will step up from Moto2 to Tech3 KTM Factory Racing next year.

Taking their seats at KTM Ajo in 2022 will be the Finnish team’s rookie Moto3 championship leader, Pedro Acosta, as well as current Marc VDS rider Augusto Fernandez.

Marc VDS will continue to field Sam Lowes but also welcomes Tony Arbolino from Intact GP, while last-start podium finisher Aron Canet and Jorge Navarro are also high-profile riders on the move, both to Pons (listed below as ‘Flexbox HP40’).

There will be an Australian presence in Moto3, with Joel Kelso landing a full-time seat at CIP after two starts as an injury replacement this year.

All teams in Moto2 and Moto3 will field two riders each, making for 30 regulars in both classes.

The next round will be held at the Circuit of The Americas on October 1-3 (local time).

Junior classes 2022 team entry lists

American Racing
Aramco VR46 Team
Aspar Team
Elf Marc VDS Racing Team
Flexbox HP40
Idemitsu Honda Team Asia
Italtrans Racing Team
Liqui Moly Intact GP
MV Agusta Forward Racing
NTS RW Racing GP
Pertamina Mandalika Sag Team
Red Bull KTM Ajo
Speedup Racing
Team Gresini Moto2
Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team
Avintia VR46 Riders Academy
BOE Owlride
CIP Green Power
GasGas Aspar Team
Honda Team Asia
Leopard Racing
MT Helmets – MSi Race Tech
Red Bull KTM Ajo
Red Bull KTM Tech3
Rivacold Snipers Team
Sic58 Squadra Corse
Sterilgarda Max Racing Team
Team MTA
Vision Track Honda

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