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Quartararo Will Move to Yamaha Factory Team in 2021; Rossi Has Option to Retire or Continue With Factory Support

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Maverick Viñales has extended his contractual relationship with the Yamaha Factory MotoGP team, today Yamaha continues with important news.

Last year’s rookie phenom Fabio Quartararo has signed a two-year deal beginning in 2021 to join Viñales on the Yamaha Factory team. Meanwhile, nine-time World champion Valentino Rossi will be given until the middle of this year to decide if he wants to retire or continue racing in MotoGP.

Although he would no longer be on the official factory team, Yamaha will fully support Rossi with factory level equipment and staff should Rossi decide to continue racing in 2021 (presumably with a Yamaha satellite squad).

Here are two press releases from Yamaha beginning with the announcement of Quartararo’s factory deal, and followed by the statement regarding Rossi’s future.

The Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team are delighted to welcome Fabio Quartararo to their line-up for the 2021 and 2022 season.

Last year‘s results showed that Quartararo is a unique talent and a rider with a bright future in MotoGP. The 20-year old from Nice, France, scored seven podiums (5x second place and 2x third place) in his debut season with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, which at the time was a brand-new Yamaha satellite team. He came tantalizingly close to his first premier class win on a number of occasions. Though it wasn‘t to be, his exceptional performances impressed many in 2019. Ultimately, he secured fifth place in the overall MotoGP standings, earning him the Best Independent Team Rider honour by 27 points, as well as the Rookie of the Year title with a 100-point margin to the runner-up.

In 2020 Quartararo will again be a PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider, completing the second year of his current two-year agreement. However, this season he will be riding the factory-spec YZR-M1. Moreover, he will enjoy Yamaha’s full support throughout the upcoming season, as well as when he moves up to the Factory Team in 2021.

In 2021 and 2022, Quartararo will partner Maverick Viñales, whose two-year contract extension with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team was announced yesterday.

***

Grand Prix racing legend Valentino Rossi will complete his astounding 15-year run with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team at the end of the 2020 season.

Following discussions between Yamaha and Rossi, the Italian will take until mid-2020 to make the final call whether he will remain an active rider in the MotoGP World Championship in 2021. This time frame was requested by Rossi to evaluate his competitive speed compared to the MotoGP grid only after completing the first seven or eight races of 2020.

Should Rossi decide to continue as a MotoGP rider in 2021, Yamaha assures Rossi of the availability of a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. engineering support.

Irrespective of the decisions for the future, Yamaha will provide full support and total focus for the 2020 season as Rossi commences his 25th motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship, his 21st season in the premier class, and his 15th year with Yamaha.

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22 Comments

  1. PatrickD says:

    Yamaha let Zarco slip away when he had shown the speed on the Yamaha, and it’s lucky that they got a second shot at a bright young thing and have rightly signed him up.
    Rossi has the strongest possible incentive to race in order to justify Yamaha’s commitment. I think that Morbidelli will be looking to eclipse Rossi in 2020, though. And if Rossi is 4th out of 4, it will make no sense that they keep supporting him.

    The finishing order of the Yamahas will be the second thing that we look for after he podium is decided in 2020.

  2. Bill Nivens says:

    If Paul thinks 20 year old kids have greater knowledge of racing than Valentino Rossi does at twice their age, and if he thinks age isn’t a factor in Rossi’s decline (at twice Q’s age), he’s too stupid to communicate with. Don’t bother.

    • Dave says:

      We’re just talking here. No need for insults.

    • Anonymous says:

      those who can do, those who can’t teach.
      Q and MV are doing and Rossi is not.

      what good has all of Rossi’s vast age related experience and greater knowledge of racing done for him and his team lately as far as collecting race wins/points?
      the score sheets state; very little…and not near as much as the Q’s and MV’s.
      you will no doubt prefer to somehow rationalize that all assbackwards from the plain truth.
      all Rossi can do now, if he chooses (fortunate for him he has that choice), is continue to capitalize on his fame while it lasts.

      • Dave says:

        Those who can, were taught.

        If we’re looking at Rossi’s career as a “what have you done for me lately” affair (aside from continuing to hold down the massive Fiat sponsorship) then sure, he had a pretty bad year in 2019 by his standards. He was 7th with 174 points (still out-pointing multiple podium finishers), but he out scored everyone else on a Yamaha for 3rd overall in 2018. He’s extremely reliable, while others come and go from the front. He does that with his vast experience. Maybe he can teach Yamaha’s newer wunderkinds to do it too, maybe they don’t end up like Zarco (remember when he was Quartararo?) or other young, great riders now languishing outside of the top-10.

        The entire sport capitalizes on his fame. If he leaves, this sport will bleed.

        • paul says:

          “Those who can, were taught.
          ((absolutely…but also arriving at the top level of the game $$$ quite thoroughly taught))

          If we’re looking at Rossi’s career as a “what have you done for me lately” affair (aside from continuing to hold down the massive Fiat sponsorship) then sure, he had a pretty bad year in 2019 by his standards. He was 7th with 174 points (still out-pointing multiple podium finishers), but he out scored everyone else on a Yamaha for 3rd overall in 2018. He’s extremely reliable, while others come and go from the front. He does that with his vast experience.
          ((I’ve always been a fan of Rossi…like a handful of other great riders, Rossi brought a new formula to the racing game and thoroughly proved it time and again. …others adapted/learned what they could of Rossi’s new formula and in doing so became better riders as a result of. on the same side of the coin those riders/teams which successfully adapted/implement Rossi’s best attributes are then left with little left to learn from Rossi…no?))
          Maybe he can teach Yamaha’s newer wunderkinds to do it too, maybe they don’t end up like Zarco (remember when he was Quartararo?) or other young, great riders now languishing outside of the top-10.
          ((exactly…that’s what i stated, Rossi may be able to help lesser riders more so than those already at top of the field.
          Do you think Mr. Zarco really would have listened to advice from Rossi a couple years ago?
          also if Rossi completely walked off into the sunset tomorrow i think Q and MV would be just fine))

          The entire sport capitalizes on his fame. If he leaves, this sport will bleed.
          ((absoultely and a good $$$ position to be
          which Rossi built and deserves for himself))

  3. Joe says:

    Sad to see the decline of “the Doctor.”
    I’d like to see some kind of resurgence from him.
    Remember the early part of 2018 when he didn’t actually win any races but lead in the points and was consistently 2nd or 3rd. There was some hope then, however slim, that he might snatch a win or two as the season went on and hold off the wonder kid .
    ( Alas, Marquez would not be denied. )
    Rossi’s complaint was that Yamaha wasn’t giving him the speed he needed wether it was outright power or a deficiency in the electronics or the right feel from the chassis and setup. But while he floundered and faded we saw the rise of Quartararo on the satellite team.
    Now, based on his performance the past couple of years there’s every reason to believe he might not have anything “ left in the tank.”
    Surely a time of serious soul searching for him.

  4. Nick says:

    I just hope that Fabio doesn’t smash up his right arm while racing. The surgeons are going to spend longer matching his tattoos than repairing the physical damage!

  5. JCM says:

    And maybe now Mr. Quartararo can afford some new pants.

  6. Bill says:

    Yamaha, Dorna and the FIM are all very aware that when Rossi retires the impact to Motogp will be huge. More than half of the spectators at any event are all sporting Rossi’s colours and feverishly buying up his swag. His declining performance over the last few seasons haven’t really changed that, but his absence from the grid surely will. It’s in the sport’s best interest to keep him racing as long as he is relevant and willing.

  7. My2cents says:

    Lawson proved to Gardner he could win on a Yamaha or a Honda. Great racers can do great things, hopefully Rossi get to bow out after winning the title once again. Honda and Yamaha are both rider rich. Only Ducati or Suzuki might have a spot. Like any other job either you’re a asset or a liability.

  8. mickey says:

    Yamaha is now set for the future. Several teams were after Quatararo. If Yamaha hadnt signed him, they’d be racing against him.

  9. TimC says:

    No great surprise. Eventually Yamaha had to start planning for the future/developing new talent.

  10. Ricardo says:

    I think Rossi will continue into 2021 to mentor Quartararo and Viñales….

    • paul says:

      mentor them how?
      the two are already better racers than Rossi.

      • Curly says:

        Verb: advise or train (someone, especially a younger colleague).

        Rossi may never win another GP but he for sure has enough experience to benefit a 20 year old and help him perfect his craft.

      • Dave says:

        They are faster riders, not better racers. There’s are important differences, ones that win championships.

        • paul says:

          well…of the three (Vin, Quar, Ros) whom finished the 2019 MotoGP season with the lowest total of points?
          answer…Rossi.
          the better racer of the three…really?
          BTW…how much mentoring do you suppose Rossi has provided to Vin and Quar thus far?
          it’s quite safe to say that riders/teams have already learned and implemented what they can from Rossie.

          • Dave says:

            And just in 2018, old-man Rossi was Yamaha’s top points scorer. He’s learned to adapt to every change MogoGP has gone through since the analog 2-stroke days while his contemporaries have retired, off the back.

            He is special. His knowledge, influence and ability to learn are valuable. Mick Doohan is still a valuable advisor to HRC and he’s probably never ridden a 4-stroke GP bike. Fast kids come and go. These are once in a generation talents. Yamaha would do well to maintain their relationship with Rossi.

      • Peter says:

        Why do most sports teams have coaches that are decades older than the players and have no hope of playing at the level they did at their peak?

        Rossi is aging and his reaction times, feel, and risk aversion may be catching up with him. However there is another element to racing, experience. That is what coaching is all about, guiding the raw talent in the right direction.

        • paul says:

          “Why do most sports teams have coaches that are decades older than the players and have no hope of playing at the level they did at their peak?”
          coaches vs mentors
          coaches jobs are to ensure that the boss($) receives each team member’s best efforts.
          the 2 yami riders are already better than Rossi.
          Rossi could only mentor lesser riders.
          now if MM signed on to be a mentor Vin and Quar…that surely would be a positive and worthwhile $$$ expenditure.

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