Title sponsor and technical partner to the multi-championship winning Mercedes F1 team, Petronas is moving into MotoGP for 2019 via backing of the new Sepang Yamaha project.

While the chance to tap into the expanding MotoGP audience, particularly in its home region of SE Asia, has caught the company's attention, Petronas wants to bring more to the table than branding alone.

Having pitted its fuel and oil products against the best in F1, Petronas is now eager to do the same in MotoGP.

Replicating their F1 know-how would shorten the MotoGP development process, but Petronas is aware that two wheels are an 'entirely different' challenge.

"Back in the mid-1990s we were involved with two-wheels, but not MotoGP, and since then we have progressed a lot more in Formula One," said Petronas head of brand management Noor Afiza Mohd Yusof.

"But for the last few years there has been an increasing trend in terms of the growing following and audience for MotoGP.

"You can see that at a good race event like Malaysia, where we hosted 169,000 people this year. That's huge. In terms of F1 it's an entirely different group, the demographic, the lifestyle…. MotoGP is more of a young market - and the young at heart!

"We went into Formula One for the technology. It's the epitome of technology. MotoGP is also the highest level for us on two wheels as the only category where we are able to develop our product.

"So motorsport is an important platform for us not just as a sponsor, but mainly as a technical partner for the racing fuel and lubricant. We have done that successfully for the last five years for Mercedes and we really hope to replicate what we have learned there on two wheels.

"We know what needs to be done in four wheels, but we have yet to learn - or maybe unlearn to a certain extent - for two-wheels. Because it's entirely different. So while we have had some great success [in F1] that doesn't guarantee we will be successful here and we might sometimes have to learn new ways of doing things."

The new Petronas Yamaha Sepang team made its debut with riders Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo at last month's Valencia test, just two days after the season finale.

"It was really heart-warming to see so many people from the factory Yamaha team in our garage, working together to assemble the bikes until late at night.

"It's like three parties coming together, two of them [Petronas and Sepang] without much experience in the MotoGP class.

"I think it's been a good start to a great team."

Morbidelli was an impressive sixth fastest at Valencia and again at the following Jerez test, when rookie Quartararo climbed up the timesheets to twelfth.

 

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