How Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy is set to change

Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy will no longer accept new, young riders and will instead focus on maximising its experienced talents.
Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi

Francesco Bagnaia became the first graduate of the academy to become MotoGP champion - the first Italian since Rossi himself in 2009.

That victory will be the catalyst for changes at VR46 designed to help its other premier class riders build on Bagnaia’s success, it has been revealed.

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"It's not easy because things have gotten a bit out of control, in a good way," sporting director Alessio Salucci said. 

"These guys have grown exponentially in just a few years. 

“So it's a bit more difficult when you bring in new and young riders who would then have to train together with those who have been here for a long time. 

“It's not easy. Because age is different and in general everything is a little different. 

“At the moment it would not be wise to hire young drivers who could unbalance the group a bit. 

“But we absolutely want to continue the project and we are seeing how to organise and structure it."

Marco Bezzecchi, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Marco Bezzecchi, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

VR46 was initially a training school for up-and-coming talents until those same riders became champions.

“The boys became big and strong,” Salucci said. “I'm very happy about that."

As well as Bagnaia, academy graduates at the top level include Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli and Mooney VR46 duo Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi.

VR46 closed its Moto3 team to focus on the new MotoGP project for 2021. Next season will see the VR46 Moto2 team taken over by Fantic, when the academy will stop working with three Italian talents.

Alberto Surra, Niccolo Antonelli and Stefano Manzi will no longer be full-time VR46 members.

“But they will remain friends of the academy", explained Salucci. 

"We're working on a package for them, because we don't like to just say 'hello’.

“We like them, we are a group with the same passion. They will probably continue to train with us, but we will no longer take care of them 100%, but 60%."

“I suffered without Valentino Rossi”

Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP. 6 November
Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi MotoGP race, Valencia MotoGP. 6 November

The MotoGP legend who won seven premier class titles retired a year ago.

His longtime friend Salucci admitted: “Until mid-season I suffered from the non-presence of Vale, but in the end Pecco and our team were amazing. 

“A year ago I would have signed with blood to finish this championship like this. 

“But the great merit is of Pecco, that boy came to live in Pesaro, alone, when he was not yet 18 years old to pursue his dream.”

VR46 duo opt against factory bike

Luca Marini, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Luca Marini, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

Mooney VR46 teammates Marini and Bezzecchi will not have factory bikes in 2023, the team have decided.

“For the 2023 MotoGP season we have two GP22s, we decided not to have the factory bike like Marini did this year,” Salucci said. 

“To continue the work done this year, but also to have two identical bikes in the garage, so that the team can also work better and make the most of each other's data. 

“When Pecco Bagnaia experienced some problems on the GP22 earlier in the year, Ducati made improvements, so his world title bike isn't the one Marini used in 2022.”

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