Yamaha and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi have officially signed a one-year contract renewal for 2021.
Photos Courtesy of yamahamotogp.com
Confirmation finally came Saturday, September 25 at the Catalunya MotoGP: Valentino Rossi has signed for Petronas SRT Yamaha for 2021. After months of negotiating over the finer details of the contract, the 41-year will switch to a satellite squad for the first time since 2001, where he will line up alongside protégé Franco Morbidelli.
Rossi acknowledged an agreement was in place with Yamaha and Petronas SRT Yamaha for several months. However, a final decision on personnel, bike specification and image rights delayed the deal. “We were not in a rush,” said the nine-time champion.
The contract is with Yamaha Motor Racing and Rossi will have the same equipment as 2021 factory riders Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo at the beginning of next season. “Yamaha continue to give me the factory support. So, I think that will not change a lot. Change the color of the bike. I am happy because also the Petronas team is very, very high-level, very professional and they already achieved a lot of important results.”
Although Rossi lost the fight to bring his team with him to the Petronas-backed fold, unlike when he switched from Honda to Yamaha at the end of 2003, Yamaha to Ducati at the close of 2010 or returned to Yamaha at the end of 2012. He will bring current crew chief David Munoz, data engineer Matteo Flamigni and rider coach Idalio Gavira.
It means long-time mechanics Brent Stevens and Alex Briggs are out in the cold. “I wanted to see out his career and he tried to make that a reality, it was not what the Petronas team had in mind;” Briggs tweeted on Friday morning. “I am now a free agent and would consider offers but most likely will stay in Australia next year.”
Rossi’s renewal carries him up to 2021. So, does this mean the Italian only intends to race for one more season before hanging up his leathers?
Lin Jarvis, Yamaha’s Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing explained, “We have a contract with Petronas team until the end of ‘21. We have a contract with Dorna for our participation in the championship until the end of ‘21. So we hope that we will renew. Unless you can sign off on that, you can’t put that in a contract.
“Also, Valentino wants to see if he’s competitive every year. It was the same as this year. He wanted to do several races and judge his position. Frankly our agreement has something clear. It says we have intention to discuss with all good intentions for a potential extension in the middle of next season. One year does not mean only one year. One year means ‘sure one year, let’s see beyond that.’” ~ Neil Morrison
Teh following is the official press release from Yamaha…
Montmelò, Spain (September 26, 2020) – Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has signed a one-year renewal agreement with Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi. Fans all over the world will be delighted to know that the nine-time World Champion will be participating in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship as a fully supported Factory Yamaha rider for the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.
Due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, Rossi was obliged to state his future intention to continue as a MotoGP rider before competing in a single 2020 MotoGP race. However, having completed seven GP weekends since then, the 41-year-old is certain that he made the right decision. He reunited with his beloved YZR-M1 showing competitive pace and has a lot of fight left in him.
The Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team wants to thank Rossi for his continuous contribution and effort. Currently competing in their 15th MotoGP season together, to date they have secured four world titles, 142 podiums, 56 victories, and competed in 250 races.
Rossi can be assured of the team‘s full support for the remainder of the 2020 championship. Everyone is fully focused on completing this season on a high note, as the team continues to push for the three World Championship titles.
Lin Jarvis | Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing
We are delighted that Valentino will be staying in MotoGP for another year, and we are sure the fans of the sport feel the same way. A substantial part of the MotoGP fanbase will have grown up with Valentino and followed him throughout his career.
“This current and final season with the Factory Yamaha Team is his 25th in the motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship and his 15th year with Yamaha.
“Early on we assured Valentino that, should he stay in MotoGP for 2021, Yamaha would continue to give him full support and a Factory YZR-M1. In the end, this is exactly what he decided to do.
“I previously stated that this Covid-19 influenced MotoGP season would not be the appropriate year for such a legendary rider to close his career. Valentino has always been so popular with the fans all around the world, so it‘s great that he has decided to continue for at least another season. Hopefully the fans will be allowed back into the tracks next year to savor watching the GOAT in action again.
“I would like to thank the management of the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for their enthusiasm and full collaboration to welcome Valentino into their team. They are still quite a ’young‘ team, but they are very professional and serious contenders for race wins and feature in the top of the championship standings, so we are sure that Valentino will feel comfortable and be able to perform at his best level.
Valentino Rossi | Monster Energy MotoGP Rider
I am very happy to continue riding in 2021 and to do it with the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. I thought a lot before taking this decision, because the challenge is getting hotter and hotter. To be at the top in MotoGP you have to work a lot and hard, to train every day and lead an ’athlete’s life‘, but I still like it and I still want to ride.
“In the first half of the year I made my choice and I talked with Yamaha, who agreed with me. They told me even if there was no place for me in the Factory Team, the factory bike and the factory support were guaranteed.
“I am very happy to move to Petronas Yamaha SRT. They are young, but they‘ve shown to be a top team. They are very serious and very well organized. For this year I also changed my crew chief. I‘m very happy with David, and I think we haven‘t reached our best yet. This was one of the reasons why I chose to continue, because the atmosphere in the team is something I like a lot.
“It‘ll be nice to have Franco as my teammate, as he‘s an Academy rider, it‘s going to be cool. I think we can work together to make good things happen.
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