It has been an open secret for some time, but now finally Yamaha have confirmed it officially. In a flurry of press releases, Yamaha announced it reshuffling of the factory Yamaha team, and laid the first stone in its satellite operation.
Starting immediately, Franco Morbidelli will be joining the factory team, and has signed a contract for the next two seasons, 2022 and 2023.
Taking his place in the Petronas Yamaha SRT team effective immediately will be Andrea Dovizioso, and the Italian veteran will race in Yamaha’s satellite team for 2022.
Though most of the news was already out in public, there were still a few details in the announcements that hadn’t been confirmed.
Firstly, although Yamaha Managing Director Lin Jarvis confirmed to me in Austria that Franco Morbidelli would be moving up to the factory team for next year, the deal announced is for two seasons, for 2022 and 2023.
Crucially, that puts him out of step with almost the entirety of the rest of the MotoGP field.
Everyone bar Marc Marquez and Brad Binder, who have contracts through 2024, have deals which end in 2022 – with the caveat that most rookies, like Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner in the Tech3 KTM team, will have options to continue beyond 2022.
Franco Morbidelli will start his term in the factory Yamaha team this weekend. The Italian is coming off a long absence for surgery on his ACL, however. Normally, the recovery time for such a knee operation is six months.
Morbidelli, however, had surgery at the end of June, less than three months ago. The move will allow Morbidelli to settle into the factory team, and adapt to the 2022 Yamaha M1, rather than the 2019 bike he has been riding for the past year and a half.
The second detail to be announced is that Andrea Dovizioso will be signing a contract with Yamaha directly.
That puts him on a 2022 Yamaha M1 in the satellite team due to be announced this weekend by the remnants of the Petronas SRT team, now that Petronas and the Sepang International Circuit have withdrawn from the squad.
Team bosses Razlan Razali and Johan Stigefelt are expected to reveal their plans, and the name of their new project at some point over the weekend.
That announcement has apparently run into a glitch. Multiple sources have reported that the intended sponsor WithU, an Italian utilities company currently backing the team’s MotoE effort, have withdrawn their sponsorship, and have chosen to back the VR46 team instead, alongside Sky Italia.
Though unrelated to the Yamaha news, the backing of WithU and Sky suggests that the mysterious deal with Tanal Entertainment, a Saudi-backed development concern, is off.
The deal was always dubious, though the story was so hard to track that it was hard to unravel the truth behind it. So far, however, no concrete details have been announced for the sponsorship of the VR46 squad.
Source: Yamaha Racing