Maverick Vinales has become the first major name to commit his future in MotoGP after signing a new factory Yamaha deal for 2021-2022.

With none of the current factory riders confirmed with a manufacturer beyond the end of the 2020 MotoGP season, Vinales is the first headline signing with Yamaha retaining the Spaniard on a renewed two-year deal covering the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

The deal also confirms Vinales as a factory Yamaha rider, meaning one spot remains to be filled at the Iwata team. That place is currently held by nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi who is set to assess his future in the sport over the opening rounds of this season.

Rossi and Fabio Quartararo appear favourites for the factory Yamaha spot alongside Vinales from 2021, while the French rider has reportedly gathered interest from Ducati over a factory deal.

Vinales joined Yamaha from Suzuki back in 2017 on a two-year deal, replacing Ducati-bound Jorge Lorenzo, and immediately repaid the team’s faith with three wins from his opening five races. Despite fading over the latter part of the campaign he held on to take third place in the overall riders’ world championship.

After a tricky 2018, which still resulted in one win and three podiums, Vinales oversaw key changes to his Yamaha crew with Roman Forcada axed as his crew chief with Esteban Garcia coming in as replacement at the start of 2019. His Rider Coach also changed with Wilco Zeelenberg leaving to head up the new Petronas Yamaha SRT satellite team which saw Julian Simon step in.

Despite being unable to keep pace with Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso across 2019, the Yamaha rider claimed third place in the standings again with the highlight of two wins and five further rostrums.

With Yamaha securing Vinales until at least the end of 2022, Lin Jarvis says the team’s decision to tie down the Spaniard so early into this year came from “our mutual appreciation and underlines the shared conviction” the two parties share.

“We brought Maverick into the factory team in 2017, knowing he is a special talent,” Jarvis, Yamaha’s managing director, said. “He is highly motivated and dedicates himself to being physically strong and is always ready to give his maximum and extract the best from his YZR-M1.

“In his first three seasons with us, he has given Yamaha six wins, 19 podiums, and 100% of his commitment. Now, as the YZR-M1 is improving race by race, we foresee a very bright future for him at Yamaha.

“Maverick’s decision to sign with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team for two further years so early shows the strength of our mutual appreciation and underlines the shared conviction that together we can challenge for the MotoGP World Championship Title.”

“I’m extremely happy because I feel like I get to keep ‘my own team’,” Vinales added. “This will be the second year with my current crew, and after this I have two more years to look forward to. I’m so excited! I think that if we keep working really hard we are heading the right way.

“For me, it was very important to make this announcement before the season started, because I’m highly motivated and want to be able to fully concentrate on the 2020 season.”

Vinales signed his last Yamaha renewal in January 2018, which was announced at the team launch in Madrid ahead of pre-season testing, with the Spaniard keen to organise his future going into the new season without any distractions about his next MotoGP contract.

 

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