Valentino Rossi’s team to Yamaha? “But we’re interested in competitive bikes…”

Valentino Rossi’s Mooney VR46 team will “respect their contract” at Ducati - but have urged Yamaha to tempt them with “a competitive bike”.
Valentino Rossi, Valencia MotoGP, 11 November
Valentino Rossi, Valencia MotoGP, 11 November

Yamaha, whose Fabio Quartararo won the MotoGP championship in 2021, will field only two bikes on the 2023 grid after losing their RNF satellite team to Aprilia.

They hope a call to Rossi, whose legendary status is synonymous with his heyday at Yamaha, could result in his VR46 squad switching allegiance from their current Ducati home.

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“For us it is a great honour that Yamaha is pushing to have us, and we are very pleased,” said team manager Uccio Salucci.

“But we have a contract with Ducati until the end of next year and we will respect it.

“In the future, who knows? But we are interested in having competitive bikes.

“If Yamaha, after 2024, have strong bikes then we are open to anything.”

The Mooney VR46 team will again field exciting young duo Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini this season.

“From the middle of the championship we were strong with both riders,” Salucci reflected on last year.

“In the beginning, Luca suffered more but if there is a fault, it was ours. We did not yet have the situation in hand and managing a factory bike was difficult.

“Then the team worked well - Bezzecchi got on the podium and won Rookie of the Year, Luca had two fourth-place finishes.

“We fought for the positions that matter and, as I always tell my boys, that’s the the most important thing. You have to be protagonists.”

Valentino Rossi’s team to Yamaha? “But we’re interested in competitive bikes…”

This season, Bezzecchi and Marini will profit from using a 2022-spec Desmosedici - the bike that Francesco Bagnaia became champion with.

“We made this choice because it is right to stay with a bike that we knew, not to risk like we did last year,” Salucci said.

“At the beginning of the season I hope it will give us some advantages.

“Then from mid-season, maybe even earlier, the official teams will grow and it will not be easy for us.”

So, must there be hope that Bezzecchi or Marini could trouble the top names at the front of the grid?

“It is normal and right that we have more expectations,” Salucci said. “We have more expectations internally too.

“Our riders are fast, they have more experience and I expect more, even if it is never easy.”

He said their hope is: “To try and fight in every race for a top-five position, to get on the podium and even to win some races.”

Salucci said about the prospect of Sprint races: “Initially I was worried. I look at it from a practical side and we had to regroup.

“Carlo Casabianca, a trainer from the academy, has studied a different preparation for each riders so they are more explosive and we have more fuel.

“Mentally, it won’t be easy to manage two races at the weekend. But as a show, it will be good for the fans.”

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