As first reported by Autosport, Aprilia has signed a two-year deal with an option for a further two seasons that will see RNF become its first satellite team in MotoGP.
This means the team helmed by Razlan Razali and born out of the now defunct Petronas Sepang Racing Team will part ways with Yamaha, having only had a one-year deal with the Japanese marque.
RNF and Yamaha met at Le Mans to settle the matter, but Yamaha asked Razali for more time until Mugello, where the Italian Grand Prix takes place this weekend.
However, the response the Malaysian executive got back in Italy seems to have left him unsatisfied.
It is still unclear whether Yamaha will compete next season with just two bikes, which on paper will be Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli, or whether they will team up with another team in view of the void left by Suzuki.
Aprilia have been considering the possibility of a satellite team for some time, although a lack of infrastructure on the one hand and a lack of offers on the other have delayed the consolidation of the project.
A few weeks ago, however, Massimo Rivola, Aprilia’s racing CEO, acknowledged to Autosport that this route was not yet dead: “If we receive interesting offers that can make the project grow, we will evaluate it”.
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing
Photo by: Marc Fleury
Razali is reportedly unsatisfied with the treatment received from Yamaha, especially for the high price he has to pay for the rental of his two bikes – which considerably higher than the amount asked by Aprilia or Ducati.
As part of the deal, Aprilia will invest in training for engineers, technicians and other team roles, as well as in riders.
“I am happy to announce the agreement with RNF Racing,” Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola said.
“We have always reasoned in small steps and as we demonstrate the competitiveness of our RS-GP, a natural part of the journey is to see two more on track.
“The Noale racing department is a true heritage of knowledge, of technical culture applied to high performance motorbikes as well as sports management.
“With RNF Racing we find a partner to enhance and valorise this extraordinary heritage.
“We are thinking, of course, of the riders and the best competitiveness, but also of raising new generations of engineers, technicians and managers.
“To continue and improve the extraordinary, all-Italian tradition of Aprilia Racing.”
WithU, RNF’s main sponsor this season, is an Italian company, and would therefore welcome a switch from Yamaha to Aprilia.
One of the best placed riders to land there is Valentino Rossi protege Celestino Vietti, current leader of the Moto2 world championship.