'Humble underdog' RNF targeting 11-13 million MotoGP budget

RNF founder Razlan Razali working towards a budget of 11-13 million euros for the 2022 MotoGP season, 'humbled' by SRT results 'crashing down' last year, ready to be an 'underdog' that can 'afford to take risks'.
Andrea Dovizioso, Jerez MotoGP test, 18 November 2021
Andrea Dovizioso, Jerez MotoGP test, 18 November 2021
© Gold and Goose

Razlan Razali's new RNF Yamaha team is targetting a MotoGP budget of approximately 11-13 million euros for the 2022 season.

Razali founded RNF, named after the intiials of his children, in mid-September to take over the Sepang Racing Team grid places following the loss of title sponsor Petronas.

A month later, WithU became RNF's title sponsor alongside confirmation of Yamaha machinery and riders Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder.

A steady stream of smaller sponsorship deals have since been announced over the winter.

"Building your second MotoGP team is not fun! It's a lot of work, especially when we started the planning for this team only in September-October," Razali told Crash.net. "It was a challenge to attract big sponsors obviously. But we've kept going and hence you see all these new guys coming in, which is great.

"The first year is always the most difficult and challenging in my view, so we must make sure we get through it well, financially secure, giving confidence not only to the sponsors but team members as well.

"At the same time, we'll use this year to build for the future, the next 3-5 years. It's all about rebuilding and rebranding. Everything is from scratch but we also have experience from the last three years.

"Of course, the difference between now and before is that we had a big sponsor [Petronas]. But we are blessed with WithU, our title partner. If we did not have WithU that would be really in trouble, but WithU were the first to come on board immediately after Petronas.

"And then slowly the current sponsors continued with Barracuda, Green Power and then we announced WRS, the windscreen company, and then slowly we've announced all the other guys. This week we hope to announce two more, before next week's team launch.

"We're nearly there. With each announcement the pressure is a little off me!"

Darryn Binder, Jerez MotoGP test, 19 November 2021
Darryn Binder, Jerez MotoGP test, 19 November 2021
© Gold and Goose

What does it cost to run a satellite MotoGP team?

In terms of the financial figures involved, Razali said a budget of 11-13 million euros would ensure RNF can maintain the previous high level of presentation by Petronas SRT.

"I will give ballpark figures," he said, when quizzed on his financial goals. "It also depends on how you want to present yourself. That's number one. And the package that is provided by the manufacturer.

"For us, presentation is important. Presentation gives you confidence, trust, professionalism. I think that's just as important as having a good package with the manufacturer.

"Those that know us, know how we've presented ourselves for the last three years and we want to maintain that look and feel. We want to maintain the level of service to all our sponsors. And of course having the right package with Yamaha is also important.

"So give and take, depending on the bike spec, it's between 11-13 million euros per year."

Petronas is thought to have been paying just under 10 million euros a year for title sponsorship of SRT's previous MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 teams. Meanwhile, Dorna contributes roughly 2.5 million per rider to cover machinery costs at each Independent MotoGP team.

"It's challenging [to find sponsors during a global pandemic] but the value of a MotoGP team is still there," Razali said. "Although we are fishing in the same pool, in strategy terms we also want to find money from outside the current pool, but that takes time."

Valentino Rossi, Franco Morbidelli, MotoGP, Catalunya MotoGP 5 June 2021
Valentino Rossi, Franco Morbidelli, MotoGP, Catalunya MotoGP 5 June 2021
© Gold and Goose

'We are humbled by our experience last year'

SRT experienced dramatic highs and lows during its short but spectacular MotoGP existence, achieving 12 poles, 16 podiums and 6 wins as well as being the top Independent team in both 2019 and 2020.

Fabio Quartararo also led the 2020 world championship, when Franco Morbidelli finished as title runner-up.

But SRT's success 'came crashing down' in 2021, with just one podium by Morbidelli before the Italian's knee injury and Valentino Rossi struggling to break the top ten. It was a 'humbling' experience.

"We're more cautious, we don’t take things for granted. We are humbled by our experience last year of course," explained Razali, who has split from former SRT director Johan Stigefelt for the RNF project, but retained the likes of team manager Wilco Zeelenberg and title-winning crew chief Ramon Forcada.

"It humbled us a lot. Because we started very strong in our first two years and to go from the peak and come crashing down in the third year, there are a lot of lessons learned there. Especially when it comes to humility, to not give up and start again.

"But this is sport. It happens all the time. You win some, you lose some. It's just that we’ve gone through it all in our short three years. And we always have this belief that we can do it again.

"Of course, in any sport luck comes into it, so we just hope that luck plays a little bit of a role this year as well!"

Razali is happy to refer to his new slimmed-down team as "an underdog" that "can afford to take risks", such as signing Binder straight from Moto3.

"It's easy for people to criticise our decision [to sign Binder],"Razali said. "We don’t mind, because at the same time that's what being a development team [for Yamaha] is all about. That's what being an underdog is all about. Because if things go well, it can go very well for us, but then if things go bad we receive the brunt of it.

"But we are the underdog and can afford to take those kind of risks."

'Humble underdog' RNF targeting 11-13 million MotoGP budget

The starting gun for RNF's debut MotoGP season will be fired at Verona in Italy next Monday, with the unveiling of the team's racing colours at an official launch.

"I think the launch signifies a number of things. Number one is the rebranding of the team. The confidence that we hope to bring back to the fans and championship," said Razali.

"Our philosophy of a young rider combined with an experienced rider. And of course for our title partner WithU for Matteo [Ballarin, president], doing the launch in his hometown signifies something emotional and personal for him.

"He deserves that. he's been supporting us since 2019 so we want him to have that sense of belonging of holding the launch in his hometown of Verona. It'll be a beautiful setting for the launch."

Razali didn't want to spoil the surprise in terms of what the M1s will look like, but WithU's corporate colours - blue, white and orange - are sure to feature prominently.

"Everybody knows the colours of our title sponsor, so I'll leave it up to their imagination for now!" Razali said.

RNF will take to the track in its new colours for the first time during the Sepang Shakedown test, for which Darryn Binder is eligible as a rookie, at the end of this month.

Lead rider Dovizioso, who will have a 2022 factory-spec bike, will then join the South African for the following Official test on February 5-6.

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