Yamaha Motor Company has agreed a three-year partnership with factory MotoGP star Valentino Rossi's 'VR46 Riders Academy' as an Official Partner and Motorcycle Supplier.
Yamaha will support the Academy's program and supply a total of 26 R-Series and YZ series motorcycles to help riders train and develop their racing skills at the VR46 MotoRanch and nearby Misano road race circuit.
Yamaha also plans to support the Academy by contributing to their education process and giving insights into PR, promotional and team expectations.
But the company is also in the process of creating its own 'step-up model and system to provide tier-based opportunities for young riders to grow'.
The VR46 programme is to play a part in this: It's primary role will be boost the motivation of young riders, whilst acquiring the riding experience and skills to help move up through the tiered structure.
As a first step, Yamaha will select a limited number of the best young riders competing in the Asia Road Racing Championships as well as other rider development series to train at the Academy.
Two one-week workshops are planned in 2016. The talented youngsters will have the chance to train alongside the full time VR46 Riders Academy riders in the gym, at the MotoRanch and at the Misano circuit, riding YZF-R3 and YZ250F machines.
All riders will have full access to the facilities of the Academy and Rossi himself will participate and instruct the selected candidates along with the full-time Academy staff.
“The partnership between Yamaha and VR46 makes me very happy and incredibly proud,” said nine time world champion Rossi. “Through the Academy we have been doing very interesting things for young and talented riders and I believe we couldn't have found a better partner than Yamaha to provide our guys everything they need to grow up quickly and improve their performances on track.
“I am particularly happy because this agreement involves two things that I love and have put lots of efforts in; Yamaha and my Riders Academy. I really hope that this partnership will result in some great things.
“We have been supporting talented riders and I am confident that together we will achieve exciting results. We are planning many activities involving the Academy and its riders. Yamaha is making many of these initiatives possible and I want to thank them for this chance.
“I am also looking forward to meeting the riders that will attend the training sessions throughout 2016. I am sure they'll enjoy the time at the Academy and that we'll have a lot of fun together. Maybe we'll find new racing talents!"
Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis added:
"I am extremely happy that we are able to begin this formal partnership with the VR46 Riders Academy. The Academy started as a natural development of Valentino's incredible passion for motorcycling and racing when he committed himself to supporting the next generation of riders to develop their talent and skills to become future World Championship racers.
"Yamaha share the same passion as Valentino and we are engaged around the world with numerous programs to encourage and develop young aspiring riders to follow their dreams and to improve their performances to achieve their full potential.
"This new program will give a unique opportunity for selected talented riders to train and learn from 'the Master' and from the full-time VR46 Riders Academy riders during the 2 one-week dedicated training sessions.
"An additional but equally important aspect of the new partnership is for Yamaha to support and engage with the VR46 Riders Academy's full-time program. Yamaha will contribute with the supply of training bikes as well as getting involved in the education of the riders. Some of these young riders will surely evolve to be the Factory riders of tomorrow.
"Yamaha will be watching closely as their careers develop and hopefully some of them will become our next generation Factory riders in the future."
As well as running its own Moto3 team for Romano Fenati, Andrea Migno and Nicolò Bulega, other members of the VR46 Academy (established in 2014) include Franco Morbidelli, Lorenzo Baldassari, Nicolò Antonelli, Francesco Bagnaia and Rossi's half-brother Luca Marini.