Valentino Rossi’s Mooney VR46 team has a three-year deal with Ducati in the MotoGP World Championship. Yamaha would still like to ally with him. But there are some arguments against such a deal.
With no agreement reached between Yamaha Motor Racing and the WithU-RNF customer team for 2023, the Japanese factory will not run a customer team for the first time in the MotoGP four-stroke era that began in 2002. Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, assumes that this constellation may not change in 2024 either. Because Gresini Racing only has a two-year contract with Ducati Corse (until the end of 2023), but this team is unlikely to defect at Ducati after the recent successes. And the Mooney VR46 team is even under contract with Ducati until the end of 2024.
Pablo Nieto, Mooney VR46 team manager, referred to his team’s three-year deal with Ducati at every interview opportunity in Mugello. However, it is not necessarily written in stone that the imbalance will continue to exist, with only two Yamahas and eight Ducati fields being used in MotoGP for an indefinite period of time.
Even if no one at Yamaha wants to comment on this so as not to disturb the house peace with Ducati: Negotiations and clarifications have long been going on behind the scenes as to whether and under what circumstances the Mooney VR46 team could appear as a Yamaha customer team in 2024.
But one can imagine that Ducati Corse would not let the lucrative deal for the third season be snatched away without financial compensation.
Nine-time world champion Rossi is in a bind. On the one hand he is a Yamaha ambassador and with his VR46 team he runs the Yamaha Master Camp team in Moto2 with the pilots Manuel Gonzalez and Keminth Kubo.
On the other hand, his MotoGP protégés Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini started the MotoGP race from positions 3 and 2 in Mugello. Another rider from the VR46 Riders Academy, Bagnaia, was fifth on the grid on the Ducati Desmosedici. Five Ducati parked in Mugello on the first five grid positions. In the race, Bezzecchi and Marini secured strong positions 5 and 6. Pecco Bagnaia won.
With the works Yamaha, on the other hand, nobody but world champion Fabio Quartararo is currently getting along, not even Andrea Dovizioso and Rossi’s protégé Franco Morbidelli, who won three more MotoGP races in 2020 on the M1 and became vice world champion.
Yamaha has another competitive disadvantage compared to Ducati, which belongs to the Audi Group: Valentino Rossi has a well-paid sports car contract with Audi Sport under his belt. After retiring from MotoGP in 2022, he is contesting the GT World Challenge Europe in a 585 hp Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II from the Belgian team WRT with his teammates Frederic Vervisch and Nico Müller. And “The Doctor” is planning a multi-year career in automobile racing; one day he would also like to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Results MotoGP race Mugello (29 May):
1. Pecco Bagnaia, Ducati, 23 Runden in 41: 18.923 min
2. Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, +0,635 sec
3. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia, +1,983
4. Johann Zarco, Ducati, +2,590
5. Marco Bezzecchi, Ducati, +3.067
6. Luca Marini, Ducati, +3,875
7. Brad Binder, KTM, +4,067
8. Takaaki Nakagami, Honda, +10,944
9. Miguel Oliveira, KTM, +11,256
10. Marc Marquez, Honda, +11,800
11. Fabio Di Giannantonio, Ducati, +12.916
12. Maverick Vinales, Aprilia, +12,917
13. Jorge Martin, Ducati, +17,240
14. Alex Marquez, Honda, +17,568
15. Jack Miller, Ducati, +17,687
16. Darryn Binder, Yamaha, +20,265
17. Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha, +20.296
18. Michele Pirro, Ducati, +21.305
19. Remy Gardner, KTM, +30,548
20. Andrea Dovizioso, Yamaha, +31.011
21. Raul Fernandez, KTM, +42,723
22. Lorenzo Savadori, Aprilia, 1 lap down
– Enea Bastianini, Ducati, 10 Runden zurück
– Alex Rins, Suzuki, 16 laps down
– Joan Mir, Suzuki, 16 laps back
– Pol Espargaró, Honda, 19 laps down
Drivers’ championship standings after 8 of 20 Grands Prix:
1. Quartermaster, 122 Points. 2. Aleix Espargaro 114. 3. Bastianini 94. 4. Bagnaia 81. 5. Zarco 75. 6. Rins 69. 7. Brad Binder 65. 8. Miller 63. 9. Marc Marquez 60. 10. Mir 56. Oliveira 50. Pol Spargaro 40. 13. Nakagami 38. 14. Viñales 37. 15. Martin 31. 16. Marini 31. 17. Bezzecchi 30. 18. Alex Marquez 20. 19. Morbidelli 19. 20. Di Giannantonio 21. Dovizioso 8. 21. Darryn Binder 6. 23. Gardner 3 .
1. Ducati, 181 Punkte. 2. Yamaha 122. 3. Aprilia 115. 4. KTM 93. 5. Suzuki 80. 6. Honda 75.
Team World Cup:
1. Aprilia Racing, 151 Punkte. 2. Ducati Lenovo 144. 3. Monster Energy Yamaha 141. 4. Suzuki Ecstar 125. 5. Red Bull KTM Factory 115. 6. Prima Pramac Racing 106. 7. Gresini Racing 102. 8. Repsol Honda 100. 9. Mooney VR46 Racing 61. 10. LCR Honda 58. 11. WithU Yamaha RNF 14. 12. Tech3 KTM Factory 3.