Yamaha’s Decision Creates Uncertainty for RNF Team in 2023
In a surprising turn of events, Yamaha has chosen not to renew its contract with Razlan Razali’s RNF team at the end of 2022. This decision leaves the Iwata-based manufacturer with only two M1s on the grid for the upcoming 2023 season.
The aftermath of this choice has left both riders and team bosses filled with regret as they now face the challenge of rectifying their situation through reviving a satellite team. And who better to take up this opportunity than Valentino Rossi’s team, considering his iconic status within Yamaha?
Despite having retired from racing two years ago, Rossi continues to be Yamaha’s biggest attraction. In fact, he recently signed a contract as the company’s main ambassador until the end of 2024 during the last Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.
The long-standing connection between Rossi and Yamaha has endured various challenges over time – from his departure to Ducati in 2011 amidst Jorge Lorenzo’s popularity, to his farewell at the end of 2021, and even an agreement between his eponymous team and Ducati in 2022 that is set to expire next year.
The question now arises: who will supply bikes for Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio? While there is still time before a final decision is made, it will be crucial for VR46 (Rossi’s team) to determine their priorities among several options available.
An intriguing contender seeking re-entry into MotoGP is MV Agusta under Stefan Pierer’s leadership. However, given current circumstances, extending an alliance with Ducati or joining forces with Yamaha seems more logical.
Extending the partnership with Ducati would guarantee competitive bikes and the potential for podium finishes, victories, and even championship titles. However, there is an economic downside as Yamaha can offer more attractive monetary conditions due to their position in the series.
It’s worth noting that Dorna, the promoter of MotoGP, provides a fixed sum of three million euros to each brand supplying an independent team. This amount does not increase based on the number of customers. As a result, Ducati earns just as much from this arrangement as other manufacturers who only supply one satellite team each (Aprilia, Honda, and KTM). Curiously enough, Yamaha is currently excluded from receiving such financial benefits from Dorna.
The choice VR46 faces involves weighing both sporting interests in acquiring two valuable M1s for development purposes and potentially applying a discount to rental fees through the additional three million euro injection into their budget.
“We will do everything we can to have a satellite team again by 2025,” stated Lin Jarvis, head of Yamaha. “But first and foremost, we need to improve our technical package. Developing our bike’s competitiveness is key.”