After dipping its toe into the premier-class by running Luca Marini within the Esponsorama team this season, Valentino Rossi's VR46 squad has secured backing for a full MotoGP entry of its own from 2022.

"In 2022 the VR46 Team will debut in the MotoGP class together with Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media with Saudi Aramco, as the new Main Sponsor for the period 2022-2026," read a press release from Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media.

Graphics of an Aramco-branded VR46 machine were also released - maybe it's just for illustration purposes, but the bike used was a Yamaha M1.

Yamaha currently supplies satellite MotoGP machines to Petronas and, while no agreement has been officially announced with the successful Malaysian team for 2022, renewal negotiations are said to be at an advanced stage.

But it's not only M1s that are currently available for the next 2022-2026 contract cycle between the teams and Dorna. Suzuki and Aprilia are also seeking a satellite team next season, while if Esponsorama makes way for VR46 then Ducati would also need a new team to maintain its current six-bike supply (as it hopes to do).

The Aramco-VR46 deal includes continuing in Moto2, as the Saudi branding effectively replaces Sky Italia on the VR46 bikes (Sky is also thought to be a part owner of the VR46 team).

Rossi himself is yet to decide if he will race on in 2022, the nine-time world champion currently having just a single-year contract with Petronas.

But might The Doctor consider headlining the debut season for his VR46 MotoGP team, presumably alongside younger brother Marini, before handing his seat over to one of the Academy's young Moto2 stars for 2023?

Rossi's current Petronas team-mate and original VR46 Academy rider Franco Morbidelli recently played down the suggestion he might be a VR46 MotoGP candidate in the near future, telling Crash.net:

"Racing for VR46 maybe in a distant future could be a good thing, but I think VR46 should aim for young talents from the Academy to bring up," said the MotoGP title runner-up.

"I've spent already four years in MotoGP and, yeah I'm young, but I'm not that young! So I don’t think I'm in the target of an eventual VR46 Riders' Academy team."

Morbidelli, Marini and Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia are the VR46 Academy riders already competing in the MotoGP class.

The full press release from Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media is as follows:

Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media, the holding company of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, is pleased to announce an important strategic agreement with VR46 Team, Valentino Rossi's company, for the near future of Moto GP.

In 2022 the VR46 Team will debut in the MotoGP class together with Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media with Saudi Aramco, as the new Main Sponsor for the period 2022-2026: the new ARAMCO Racing Team VR46 will heat the track supported by other important sponsors of the world scene.

Saudi Aramco, the company already heavily involved in motorsport including in F1, will therefore enter the 2022 MotoGP World Championship through the VR46 Team.

A wide-ranging partnership between Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media and VR46 Team which aim to communicate the major projects within the program, developed following the previous sponsorship agreement for the 2021 sports season, with their partners.

Shared strategies and vision, synthesis of a mutual sharing objectives, led to the extension of this partnership by signing this important five-year agreement: an extensive joint-venture between Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media and VR46 Team which also presents the activation and management of communication.

In addition to the traditional commercial promotion through the activity of the VR46 Team, a communication strategy will be aimed at promoting the programs related to the impressive Saudi Vision 2030 project.

Based on the Vision 2030, Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media will present the new scenarios of future life that will be created in Saudi Arabia, starting with sports and entertainment infrastructures for the general public, up to involving large urban projects in the name of sustainability keeping in mind the green vocation that characterizes the KSA New Cities brand.

KSA New Cities is the brand that promotes Saudi Arabia' majestic new cities projects wich include NEOM and Najima The Fantastic City. Project developed with thesupport of the Korean KMHG team and the creative contribution of Italian and Saudi architects. New cities that will involve sport at the forefront with different forms of entertainment such as the creation of racing track for young drivers and new competitions.

A communication dedicated to the various projects also in support of international industrial programs in the world of motosport, motorcycling and motoring, developed by His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud with MAIC Technologies.

Sponsor of VR46 Team and Team Bardahl VR46 Riders Academy MAIC Technologies role, is to develop and increment the production of road vehicles in Saudi Arabia. Also MAIC Technologies will produce the first prototype of a four-wheel drive off-road motorcycle with hybrid, thermal and electric propulsion, Joint by several partners from automotive Industry.

The joint-venture with VR46 Team confirms its intentions to take the sporting project to the MotoGP class from 2022, maintaining its presence in the Moto2 class. VR46 Team once again demonstrate its commitment and ability in promoting new talents showing its ambitious horizon.

The brand Aramco as the team main sponsor, will accompany us in the sporting future new scenarios with ‘our’ shared ambitions and projects for years to come!

 

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