Satellite MotoGP star Fabio Quartararo will remain a Yamaha rider in 2021 after signing to join the factory team in place of Valentino Rossi.

No final decision has been made on Rossi's future, but the Italian is either facing retirement or a switch to a satellite Yamaha squad.

'Yamaha and Rossi have mutually agreed that the personal decision whether the Italian will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021 will be taken mid-2020,' said a Yamaha statement.

What is now clear is that Quartararo will race alongside Maverick Vinales for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, following the Spaniard's own newly-announced contract extension.

"We are very pleased that Fabio will be joining the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team line-up for 2021 and 2022," said Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis.

"His results in his MotoGP debut year were sensational. His 6 pole positions and the 7 podiums in the 2019 season were a clear sign of his brilliance and exceptional riding skills. Inviting him to move up to the Yamaha Factory Racing Team after he completes his contract with Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team was a logical next step.

“For the upcoming season he will be provided with a factory-spec YZR-M1 and he will receive full support from Yamaha.

“Fabio is only 20 years old, but he is already showing great maturity on and off the bike, and we are excited to have him join us in 2021.

"Fabio and Maverick will provide a big stimulus to all of us in the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team to continue to develop the YZR-M1 and leave no stone unturned in our quest for MotoGP World Championship victories."

After just one victory in the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, Quartararo was given a dream MotoGP chance by the new Petronas Yamaha squad for 2019.

The 20-year-old repaid the team's faith in abundance, romping to seven podiums, six pole positions and battling Marc Marquez for victory twice on the final lap of a MotoGP race.

Often the fastest Yamaha during the second half of the season, a factory seat appeared a formality for 2021, but it was far from certain that Yamaha would be able to fend off rumoured big-money offers from the likes of Ducati.

The Vinales deal created some doubt about whether a place would be available at the factory Yamaha team, but it's now confirmed Quartararo will play a key role in Yamaha's MotoGP future.

"I‘m delighted about what my management has achieved in the last few months together with YMC. It was not simple to establish, but now I have a clear plan for the next three years and I‘m really happy," Quartararo said.

“I will work hard, like I did last year, and I‘m extremely motivated to achieve great performances.

“I feel like the winter period is too long – I‘m really excited to go to the Sepang test next week to ride my new YZR-M1 and meet and work with my crew again.

“I want to thank YMC and Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, who have given me the opportunity to enter the MotoGP class in 2019. I will give my all to do them proud again this year."

Quartararo's departure was long expected by the Sepang squad, given his rookie results and factory aspirations, but the Malaysian team will hope to end their association on a high by claiming the first-ever satellite Yamaha race victories together in 2019.

Whereas Quartararo had a lower spec M1 than team-mate Franco Morbidelli and official riders Vinales and Rossi for most of last year, the team has secured the latest machinery for Quartararo in 2020.

Both Vinales and Quartararo had also been linked with Ducati and the Italian factory's 2021 rider options are now far more limited.

Yamaha's last MotoGP title was with Jorge Lorenzo in 2015.

 

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