The biggest news to come from the Assen MotoGP race on June 25-27, 2021, was the blockbuster announcement that and the Yamaha MotoGP team would be parting ways at the conclusion of the 2021 season. That’s a full year before the Spaniard’s contract was set to expire.
Rumors of the termination between the former Moto3 World Champion and Yamaha’s factory team swirled in the paddock on Saturday, June 26, leading to an official announcement the morning of Monday, June 28. The termination reportedly happened at Viñales’ behest.
Viñales had plenty of highs with Yamaha, becoming a perennial world championship threat and eclipsing Valentino Rossi as Yamaha’s A rider. He took eight race wins and finished third in the World Championship standings in 2017 and 2019.
Unfortunately, those strong finishes were offset by very inconsistent performances and the rising success of young teammate (and current points leader) Fabio Quartararo. The season started with promise after the 26-year-old won the series opener in Qatar. However, after finishing dead last at the German Grand Prix on June 20 and not scoring any points, things apparently reached the point of no return. Viñales, who still has the pace to win a championship, requested the two-year contract to end a full year early. Yamaha consented.
Viñales bounced back from that last-place finish in Germany to take the pole and second place at Assen one week later, a telling illustration of his inconsistent performances with Yamaha of late.
“After the German GP, which was the most difficult weekend of our partnership, we had important discussions in Assen and came to the conclusion that it would be in the interest of both parties to go our separate ways in the future,” said Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing.
Both parties are committed to putting their best effort forward during the second half of the 2021 MotoGP campaign.
As reported by MotoGP, Viñales seems headed to Aprilia. Although nothing official has been said, Aprilia Racing’s CEO Massimo Rivola had this to say: “If he is available, we will try our best to convince him (to join Aprilia).”
Viñales spoke positively in his statement on the matter. “This partnership has been very significant to me over the last five years, and it proved a difficult decision to part ways,” he admitted. “In these seasons together, we experienced both great achievements and tough times. However, the underlying feeling is of mutual respect and appreciation.