The 2021 MotoGP season marks Valentino Rossi’s 25th year in Grand Prix racing. While The Doctor still has the passion to compete at the highest level, many believe that he will hang up his leathers in the next few seasons. Of course, that doesn’t mean Vale’s presence won’t be felt in the series for years to come—even if he isn’t on the racetrack.
In 2021, Rossi’s VR46 Riders’ Academy Team made its debut in the premier class with Vale’s half-brother Luca Marini piloting the Esponsorama Ducati. Now, the nine-time world champion has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Tanal Entertainment Sport & Media company to bring the ARAMCO Racing Team VR46 to the MotoGP grid from 2022-2026.
As the holding company of Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud, the team livery, leathers, and helmet will prominently feature the petroleum and natural gas company’s logo. VR46 branding will span the squad’s apparel and equipment as well, but the team still isn’t sure which bike its livery will grace.
The initial mockups released by ARAMCO V46 emblazon the design across Yamaha’s M1 MotoGP machine, but several manufacturers are still in the running. Though Rossi raced for Team Blue for 14 years of his illustrious career, Suzuki also entered the conversation last season. As of late, both Ducati and Aprilia have risen to the top of the candidates list.
With the Gresini team potentially moving to Ducati in 2022, that could open the door for VR46 to reunite with Aprilia for the ARAMCO VR46 team. The Doctor captured both 125cc and 250cc crowns aboard an Aprilia early in his career before moving to Honda in the 500cc class. However, if the Esponsorama outfit makes way for the VR46 squad, Ducati will also be on the hunt for a new satellite team.
Regardless of the make, many suspect that the ARAMCO Racing Team VR46 could debut with the number 46 as its number one rider. It’s also assumed that Luca Marini would join his sibling in the paddock, but the roster is yet to be announced. Along with a MotoGP presence, the VR46 team will maintain its Moto2 squad with ARAMCO sponsorship. The intermediate team will continue developing VR46 Academy riders to make the jump to the premier class.
Yes, the Doctor may be in the twilight of his Grand Prix racing career, but his days as a MotoGP boss are just getting underway.