"It's a tribute to my three children," said Razlan Razali, explaining the name of the newly-formed 'RNF' team, which will take over from SRT as Yamaha's satellite MotoGP partner in 2022.

"All of us travel around the world and are away from home for so many weeks and months, especially during the last two years [with the pandemic].

"And where you [European] guys get to go home every weekend, I get to go home only after 4-5 weeks. So as a recognition to my kids, it's the initials of my three children."

But some other parts of the RNF project are more complicated, most notably the absence of current SRT director and Razali's long-time racing partner Johan Stigefelt.

When plans to create a 'new entity' to replace SRT next season, following the sudden withdraw of title sponsor Petronas and separation from the Sepang Circuit, were first announced in late August, Stigefelt was the only person other than Razali confirmed as part of the future project.

But by the time Razali's RNF Racing officially received transfer of the SRT MotoGP grid places from Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta in mid-September, Stigefelt was out of the picture.

Razali and Stigefelt joined forces in 2015 when Sepang, then run by Razali, took over the short-lived Caterham project Stigefelt had helped create and oversee for Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes.

Initially a Moto3 team, SIC expanded into Moto2, MotoE and finally - with Petronas and Yamaha backing - reached MotoGP in 2019, achieving success they could barely have dreamed about.

By the end of the following year, Petronas Yamaha SRT had not only won six MotoGP races - the first ever wins by a satellite Yamaha team - but led much of the world championship with Fabio Quartararo and eventually finished title runner-up (to Suzuki's Joan Mir) with Franco Morbidelli.

SRT had also taken its first victories in the Moto3 class during the same period, with Moto2 the only major disappointment performance-wise.

Given such success, the news that Petronas would not be extending its contract for 2022 came as a shock.

Especially since the money spent by Petronas is said by Razali to be 'less than 5 percent' of the Mercedes F1 title sponsorship (which, by most estimates, would mean well under ten million euros a year for Petronas SRT title sponsorship in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3!)

Admittedly, this season has been tough, but Franco Morbidelli took a podium before being injured and Petronas still had the publicity of Valentino Rossi's final racing campaign.

"We tried to carry our momentum from last year with Valentino and Frankie, unfortunately that did not materialise," Razali said. "Valentino struggled. We had some glimpses of Frankie after Qatar, with fourth and a podium, and after that he had an unlucky injury.

"So we just tried to survive the year, do the best we can and then we received a bombshell that Petronas decided not to continue and subsequently Sepang Circuit also had to stop!"

Petronas deciding to pull the plug just halfway through the 2021 season, after such a superb 2020, suggests it wasn't a performance-related decision. And if the cost was miniscule compared to F1, why did Petronas withdraw from a MotoGP team it had been fundamental in forming less than three years before?

Some kind of personality clash between Petronas management and Razali is hinted at by the Malaysian.

As far as the knock-on Sepang separation, the racing team is not thought to have been costing more than a million euros a year, a cost more than made up for by the marketing exposure generated and improving (pre-pandemic) Sepang attendance. 

As Sepang CEO, Razali had formed the team to help aid the careers of young Malaysian riders as part of a plan to boost struggling spectator numbers at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Although the development of local stars proved difficult, Razali helped negotiate the deal that saw Hafizh Syahrin make history as Malaysia's first MotoGP rider in 2018.

There is also no doubting the success of Razali's overall vision: During his decade in charge of the track, before switching full-focus to running SRT, the Malaysian MotoGP spectator attendance rocketed from 50,000 to over 170,0000.

Regardless of why the Sepang-SRT split occurred, the team becoming fully independent of the circuit is something that is thought to have been on the radar for Razali and Stigefelt.

While the SRT Moto2 and Moto3 projects would be forced to close due to the loss of Petronas, the initial plan – as announced in the team press release, a copy of which is still published on the SRT website - was that the pair would 'continue' with a new MotoGP team.

Effectively, it sounded like a rebranding exercise, literally a change of shirts, with the new title sponsor already in place (later revealed as WithU):

'Petronas Sepang Racing Team Principal Razlan Razali and Team Director Johan Stigefelt will continue in the MotoGP category from 2022 onwards with a new entity. This new entity and title partner will be announced at Misano on September 16.'

"For the future we have a new and exciting project," Stigefelt was quoted as saying. "We remain in the paddock in MotoGP with new shirts to wear. But more of that later; for now we have the remaining races of the 2021 season to race as hard as possible."

But no announcement was forthcoming at that first Misano round and, although tight-lipped in public, when only Razali was present at the signing of the five-year grid place deal with Dorna, it became clear there had been a separation from Stigefelt.

Other SRT members also appeared to be in the dark about the RNF plans, questions from the media about the project receiving replies along the lines of 'ask Razlan'.

So what went wrong?

Speaking at the recent second Misano round, where the RNF-Yamaha-WithU plans were officially announced, Razali suggested the Stigefelt split was a mutually-agreed consequence of the cut in staff numbers.

"In terms of the management side, yes there is a change," Razali said. "We've come to a point that both parties, myself and Johan, are going in a different direction.

"But with the guidance of Wilco as a team manager, myself as team principal, I think the structure is more-or-less 90 percent the same as the last three years."

Pressed on the nature of the differences with Stiggy, Razali added:

"The last three years we've been a team of more than 60 people. With changes of the team we could not continue with Moto3 and Moto2, so our crew have reduced to nearly half. I think we are looking at 29 team members for next year.

"Primarily, Johan's role was to look after the Moto2 and Moto3. So next year with just being MotoGP we made a decision - well I made a decision – that we can manage with myself and Wilco. Hence we had a mutual agreement with Johan to go in a different direction."

In other words, since Zeelenberg runs the MotoGP team now and there will only be a MotoGP team in 2022, it makes sense for Zeelenberg rather than Stigefelt to stay.

It's a convincing case, although the staff cuts and MotoGP-only situation was already clear when the August statement announced Stigefelt would continue.

While Zeelenerg is highly valued as a MotoGP team manager - not least by Yamaha, where he was formerly employed in its factory team, winning world titles with Jorge Lorenzo - the Dutchman's current SRT role appears largely focussed around race weekends.

Stigefelt meanwhile has described his role as the day-to-day running of SRT, a hole that will now need to be filled at RNF, without the Sepang Circuit for any administrative assistance.

“My main work is between racing, managing budgets and making sure that payments are made, which is quite hard because it's never-ending, especially with three teams and five riders!" Stigefelt says of his team director job on the SRT website.

"It's hard work so my favourite part of the job is to come to races, be part of the success, see our riders perform and be able to see happy faces when we get on the podium or qualify on pole position. It's the reward for all the hard work behind the scenes.”

Stigefelt is also more than a straightforward SRT employee, his One Performance company reportedly involved in team contracts.

An alternative theory for the Razali-Stigefelt split is that the partnership hit the rocks over how ownership of the new 2022 MotoGP entity would be shared.

Details remain hazy, but with communication between the pair apparently breaking down, it seems the situation could be roughly summed up as Stigefelt on one side - having assembled the race team structure - and Razali on the other - holding the vital MotoGP grid places courtesy of the deal with Dorna.

And Yamaha - which began the year expecting the formality of extending its current contract with Petronas, Sepang Circuit and SRT - was left in the middle.

Amidst all the uncertainty, there are even suggestions Yamaha pondered not having a satellite team in 2022, although the public backing of Dorna's Carmelo Ezpeleta would have helped seal the RNF deal.

The Yamaha-RNF agreement officially announced was an unusually short one-year term, with both its riders - Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder - signed directly to Yamaha rather than the team.

In Yamaha's press release, the RNF deal was described as being for 2022 and 'possibly 2023 and 2024'.

However, the quote attributed to factory racing boss Lin Jarvis in the RNF press release included a more reassuring line, not present in Yamaha's own announcement: "We expect that the current one-year deal will be extended in the middle of 2022 for 2023 and will continue into 2024."

Razali said the short initial deal was a corporate governance issue.

"With the situation of the team, I had to incorporate a new [team] entity, in the UK. And for Yamaha being a new company we need to comply with the security and trade group. It's all about compliance, with Yamaha being a big Japanese company.

"Hence because of the lack of track record with the new entity etc etc because of all this corporate governance compliance issue they could only give us a one-year deal with an extension to the following years. And we will look at by mid-June for them to confirm to continue with us for the following year and so on.

"Hence why the offer is not to our expectations but at the same time I respect their decision due to compliance issues, being a big Japanese firm and so on."

Going from the state-owned backing of Petronas and the Sepang Circuit will also be a financial challenge, hence the significance of already securing WithU as a replacement title sponsor.

Another big boost is that, as well as Zeelenberg, Razali insisted most of the current SRT MotoGP crew will also continue (the three team members that arrived with Rossi are known to be departing for VR46).

"Basically the sporting side remains the same, especially on Dovi's side of the garage," he said, suggesting Ramon Forcada will stay at Dovizioso's side rather than re-joining Morbidelli at the factory team.

"Of course on Darryn's side, the guys for Valentino will leave except for a couple and we have engaged some exciting prospects for next year in terms of crew chief and data guy."

Michael Laverty's new VisionTrack Moto3 team is set to acquire some SRT Moto2/Moto3 garage equipment, trucks and staff, but the future of Stigefelt himself - a former grand prix racer before moving into team management - is unclear.

The Swede, 45, is understood to have been among those to hold talks with VR46 and especially Suzuki over potential management roles.

But Suzuki is exuding the quiet confidence of a company that already has someone pencilled in for the place. The person they have in mind is heavily rumoured to be Davide Brivio himself, set to make a surprise return as team manager just one season after leaving for F1.

"It's just a rumour, but for sure he's still a good friend," said Suzuki racing boss Shinichi Sahara. "Sometimes we chat, about many things, private and the team. He recommends some plans for the future.

"Hopefully he comes back some time to Suzuki, but this is [just] my hope."

Meanwhile, a new era will begin when the WithU Yamaha RNF team completes its first MotoGP laps during the official post-season MotoGP test at Jerez in November.

An official team launch is then likely before RNF takes to its home track of Sepang for the start of official 2022 track activities, in February.

Highly-experienced triple title runner-up Dovizioso is finishing this season on an A-Spec bike in place of Morbidelli at SRT, before a full campaign and Factory-spec bike at RNF.

A bigger question mark hangs over the performance of rookie Darryn Binder, currently racing for SRT in Moto3 (two podiums) and now jumping straight to MotoGP, but Razali has high expectations for the South African.

"We like to do something different, as we did in 2019," Razali said of the RNF rider line-up. "A combination of experience and youth is something that we think is a good balance.

"With a couple of races for Andrea this year I think he should be up to speed next year on the latest Factory spec. And with good guidance from the team and Andrea I think we can put Darryn in a similar situation that we had with Fabio in 2019, we hope.

"So we are very excited with the balance of experience and youth. Let's see what happens."

Binder will be riding a 2021-A Spec bike in his debut MotoGP season.