Two years ago the Sepang Team were competing only in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, where they were yet to win a race.

Fast forward to this weekend in Catalunya and the Malaysian team's Petronas-backed Yamaha MotoGP project has so far won three races, plus 11 podiums and 8 pole positions with Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli.

And now it's officially confirmed that the sport's biggest icon, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, will join the team for the 2021 season.

The Italian will be swapping places with Quartararo and, while the most recent of Rossi's record 89 premier-class wins was back at Assen 2017, Sepang team principal Razlan Razali is certain The Doctor's experience will be 'a great asset', adding that they are 'humbled by this opportunity'.

"On behalf of Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team and all its partners, it is an absolute honour to welcome Valentino Rossi – an iconic rider and legend into the team next year," said Sepang team principal Razlan Razali.

"His experience will be a great asset to the team as we move into our third season in MotoGP and we are sure we will be able to learn a lot from Valentino. At the same time, we will do our absolute best to assist him to be competitive to reward him for the trust he has in us as a team.

"We are humbled by this opportunity and ready to take on the challenge. We believe that the combination of Valentino and Franco will provide a truly formidable force on track to help us in our goal of being as competitive as possible together next year. We can’t wait!"

Team director Johann Stigefelt added: "To be able to sign a rider like Valentino Rossi, for what will be only our third year in the MotoGP championship, is amazing.

"We have evolved from a Moto3 team to a Moto2 team to a MotoGP team in a short time frame and now to be leading the MotoGP teams’ championship and signing one of the greatest riders the sport has ever known is incredible.

"It has been a long time since Valentino was in a satellite team and we will try our best to help him feel like new again. We want to make sure that he feels comfortable in our team, which we trust in and believe in so much.

"Our target is to get even better as a team, help Rossi deliver the best results possible and make 2021 a memorable year."

Although he will continue to receive factory Yamaha machinery, Rossi hasn't raced for a satellite team since his debut premier-class campaign, in 2000.

 

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