Petronas Yamaha has announced its first rider signing for the 2021 MotoGP season - and it isn't Valentino Rossi.

Instead, countryman Franco Morbidelli has been confirmed as remaining with the Sepang team for the next two years.

However, Rossi is expected to be officially named as Morbidelli's new team-mate, in place of the departing Fabio Quartararo, in the near future.

"I’m very pleased to be renewing with Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team as we had such a great season together last year, working with a great drive to achieve success," Morbidelli said.

"I think it’s important for me to continue with the same team, bike and environment going forward as it feels great to work with them. We all work well together and it’s great fun to work with all the Petronas SRT crew.

"I want to thank them for this opportunity that they are giving me as it’s such an honour to ride for them. I will be working hard to give them even more and even better results than we achieved in our first year together.

"I’m now looking forward to getting racing again to show our potential and I’m just so happy to have the chance to keep on doing what I love to do with a team I love."

Although overshadowed by rookie Quartararo last season, Morbidelli took four front-row starts and seven top-six finishes on his way to tenth overall in the world championship.

The Italian will be the only Yamaha rider on an A-spec (rather than Factory-spec) bike this year, but was second quickest (behind Maverick Vinales) at the end of pre-season testing in Qatar.

Team principal Razlan Razali said: "We are delighted to confirm that Franky will continue with us next year. He is an extremely talented rider and a great asset to the team as we look to build on our rookie season. Franky was always in our plans for the future so it is beneficial for us and him to be able to confirm that he will ride for us in 2021 and 2022 now.

"Franky has the potential to reach the top step of the podium and this is what we’ll all be working hard to achieve. We have absolute faith in Franky even before this season has started. We are confident that Franky has what it takes to be competitive from Jerez and know that he will develop and mature in all areas through the years ahead.

"Franky will provide the team with stability and competitiveness and we can’t wait to be back on track!"

Quartararo will move to the Factory Yamaha team, alongside Vinales and in place of Rossi, in 2021.

An official announcement about Rossi's future with the Sepang team has been widely rumoured, but Razali recently denied reports that the deal was done, writing on Facebook: "I was away the whole day on a day bike trip and saw the news on our new rider for 2021. Not true at all. Still working on it. Taking longer than usual as he is not a normal rider."



Loading Comments...