The WithU RNF team is to switch from Yamaha to Aprilia for the coming seasons. An agreement was reached with Aprilia between the Le Mans and Mugello rounds for the team to become a satellite team for the Noale factory, and field two more Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP machines from 2023 and beyond.
The deal came about after talks with Yamaha failed to yield satisfactory results for RNF. The Malaysian team had long been hoping to play a role as a junior team to the factory, in the mold of Pramac at Ducati and Tech3 at KTM. But RNF never felt they got the support from Yamaha which they had wanted.
A switch from Yamaha to Aprilia allows them to make that step forward. Though details are sparse in the press release, it is clear that RNF will get much stronger support from Aprilia than they did from Yamaha, with the team to serve as a conduit for talent into the factory team.
The deal was announced just before MotoGP FP1, a surprising moment to choose. But that was a result of factory rider Aleix Espargaro prematurely tweeting and then deleting a welcome to RNF to Aprilia. But by then, it was too late to retract.
The original plan had been for an announcement to be made in the afternoon, but Espargaro’s over-eager thumbs forced Aprilia and RNF to announce earlier.
The move by RNF leaves Yamaha with just two bikes on the grid for 2023. The Japanese factory had been in talks with the VR46 Mooney team to race Yamahas next season, but the team is currently still set to race Ducatis.
RNF’s departure is the second time a satellite team have left for greener pastures. Tech3 dropped Yamaha and switched to KTM at the end of 2018.
Source: RNF; Photo: Aprilia