2019 Rookie of the Year Fabio Quartararo will join Maverick Viñales at Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team in 2021 and 2022. The news means that Valentino Rossi will either stay on a Yamaha with factory backing in another set-up, switch to another manufacturer for 2021 or retire at the end of this season – and even the nine-time world champion says he’s not sure yet what’s going to happen to him.
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 last year, which at the time was a brand-new Yamaha satellite team. He came 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.
Quartararo said: “I‘m delighted about what my management has achieved in the last few months together with YMC. It was not simple to establish, but now I have a clear plan for the next three years and I‘m really happy.
“I will work hard, like I did last year, and I‘m extremely motivated to achieve great performances. I feel like the winter period is too long – I‘m really excited to go to the Sepang test next week to ride my new YZR-M1 and meet and work with my crew again. I want to thank YMC and PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, who have given me the opportunity to enter the MotoGP class in 2019. I will give my all to do them proud again this year.”
Lin Jarvis, Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Directorm added: “We are very pleased that Fabio will be joining the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team line-up for 2021 and 2022. His results in his MotoGP debut year were sensational. His 6 pole positions and the 7 podiums in the 2019 season were a clear sign of his brilliance and exceptional riding skills.
“Inviting him to move up to the Yamaha Factory Racing Team after he completes his contract with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team was a logical next step. For the upcoming season he will be provided with a factory-spec YZR-M1 and he will receive full support from Yamaha. Fabio is only 20 years old, but he is already showing great maturity on and off the bike, and we are excited to have him join us in 2021. Fabio and Maverick will provide a big stimulus to all of us in the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team to continue to develop the YZR-M1 and leave no stone unturned in our quest for MotoGP World Championship victories.”
Responding, Rossi said: “My first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021.
“For reasons dictated by the riders‘ market,” said the nine-time World Champion. “Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future. Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn’t want to rush any decision and needed more time. Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations.
“It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021. Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me.
“I‘m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season.”
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