'The Doctor' will leave the Yamaha factory team to partner Franco Morbidelli
It was the news the MotoGP world has been waiting for: Valentino Rossi will shift sideways at the end of the 2020 season, leaving the Yamaha factory outfit to see out his riding career at the satellite Petronas Yamaha SRT team.
The move will see seven-time premier class champion Rossi racing at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing at the age of 42, although it has been confirmed his long time mechanic crew of Alex Briggs and Brent Stephens will not be following the Italian legend to the independent team garage.
Rossi will partner his former protégé Franco Morbidelli and be riding a 2021 specification Yamaha M1 in the satellite team that was formed after Hervé Poncharal’s Tech 3 team signed with KTM. This year the Petronas team leads the teams championship courtesy of four podiums and three race wins. Former Moto2 World Champion Morbidelli, having claimed his maiden MotoGP win in the premier class at Misano several weeks ago, is a graduate of the VR46 Academy.
The move becomes a basic swap and will see Fabio Quartararo move into the factory Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team alongside Maverick Vinales.
This was the official response from the Yamaha Petronas team:
Razlan Razali, Petronas Yamaha SRT Principal: “On behalf of PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team and all its partners, it is an absolute honour to welcome Valentino Rossi – an iconic rider and legend into the team next year. His experience will be a great asset to the team as we move into our third season in MotoGP and we are sure we will be able to learn a lot from Valentino.
“At the same time, we will do our absolute best to assist him to be competitive to reward him for the trust he has in us as a team. We are humbled by this opportunity and ready to take on the challenge. We believe that the combination of Valentino and Franco will provide a truly formidable force on track to help us in our goal of being as competitive as possible together next year. We can’t wait!”
Johan Stigefelt – Petronas Yamaha SRT Director: “To be able to sign a rider like Valentino Rossi, for what will be only our third year in the MotoGP championship, is amazing. We have evolved from a Moto3 team to a Moto2 team to a MotoGP team in a short time frame and now to be leading the MotoGP teams’ championship and signing one of the greatest riders the sport has ever known is incredible.
“It has been a long time since Valentino was in a satellite team and we will try our best to help him feel like new again. We want to make sure that he feels comfortable in our team, which we trust in and believe in so much. Our target is to get even better as a team, help Rossi deliver the best results possible and make 2021 a memorable year.”