Is Andrea Dovizioso Set to Race with SRT Yamaha in 2022?

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It is not really news, after Petronas made the announcement in their press release stating they would be ending their sponsorship of the Sepang Racing Team, but today, the team officially announced the end of the current structure.

At the end of the season, the Sepang International Circuit will close the Sepang Racing Team, and with it, the MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3 teams.

The MotoGP team will continue, however, though under new management.

Team Principal Razlan Razali and Team Director Johan Stigefelt are to setup a new structure, the plans for which are to be announced at the Misano round of MotoGP, set to be held on September 16th.

The Moto2 and Moto3 entries are to be abandoned, and only the MotoGP entry will be maintained.

Although the press release speaks of the title sponsor and team entity being announced at Misano, there is already a lot we know. The team is to have Italian utilities company WithU as its title sponsor, the company already a prominent backer of SRT.

As for riders, there are both media reports and paddock sources which believe the deal is already done for Andrea Dovizioso to take one of the two seats at the team for 2022.

According to Italian media, the final details are being hammered out, mostly in an attempt to get the Italian an A-spec, 2022 Yamaha M1, something which sponsor WithU would be willing to back.

The timing for that is a little late, as normally those decisions have to be taken by the end of June, but given that the news of Petronas’ withdrawal only came at Austria in July, it is conceivable that Yamaha were already planning to provide a second A-spec bike to the team had Petronas remained as sponsor.

Dovizioso’s move back to Yamaha came after attempts to conclude a deal with Aprilia failed at the last moment.

The deal came very close indeed, so close that a press release had already been drawn up and accidentally published on one official Aprilia website.

The link to the page has now been taken down, but the URL tells the story of the deal:

For Dovizioso, a deal with the WithU Yamaha team would be a return to the Japanese manufacturer after a long absence.

Dovizioso raced for Yamaha in the Tech3 team for the 2012 season, after losing his seat at the Repsol Honda squad with the arrival of Casey Stoner.

He left after just one season, to take the place of the departing Valentino Rossi at Ducati, who was in turn heading back to Yamaha. It was a successful year, with Dovizioso racking up 6 podiums for the Tech3 Yamaha squad.

Darryn Binder is likely to line up alongside the Italian in the WithU Yamaha team. The South African has been linked to the seat ever since Valentino Rossi announced he would be retiring at the end of the year.

Binder is the best of the current Moto2 and Moto3 Petronas riders, and the rider with the most potential. It would be a major step for the South African, however, to jump directly from Moto3 to MotoGP.

But, with a young inexperienced rider and a competitive veteran, that could be the ideal situation for the new satellite team.

The new team is also a reorientation of the Petronas squad. When Petronas first took over the Yamaha satellite seats from Tech3, well-connected paddock sources insisted that the Petronas SRT team would eventually take over as the Yamaha factory effort.

That looked plausible in 2019 and 2020, but those rumors faded away from the beginning of the year.

A lack of results, unhappiness with having Valentino Rossi foisted on them, a decision not of their own making, and dissatisfaction with the negotiation with Yamaha over machinery for 2022 and beyond fractured the relationship between Yamaha and SRT.

Even as late as the middle of the season, Razlan Razali was saying that SRT’s role was as a junior team to the factory squad. That would push them in the direction of choosing younger riders to prepare them for a move to the factory team.

With Petronas gone, the Sepang Racing Team shuttered, and a new entity created under Razali and Stigefelt, it seems the team is destined to return to a role as a more traditional satellite squad after all.

Photo: SRT Yamaha