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The confusion surrounding VR46 MotoGP and the $18 million Saudi investment

Millions promised by Tanal Entertainment for the VR46 Racing team ahead of the 2022 MotoGP season has reportedly not arrived, throwing it into doubt

Valentino Rossi, VR46, Aramco,


VR46 Racing might be forced to rely on other investors for its maiden season of MotoGP amid speculation a promised multi-million dollar investment from the Saudi Arabian-based Tanal Entertainment hasn’t materalised, according to reports.

In June it was formally confirmed that the Valentino Rossi-owned VR46 Racing would indeed step up into the premier class for the 2022 MotoGP season wearing backing from title sponsors Aramco, one of the world’s largest oil companies.

Based in Saudi Arabia, Aramco’s backing came as part of a deal with Tanal Entertainment, owned by Prince Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Saud, who made no secret of his desire for Rossi to compete with his own team next season.

Nonetheless, Rossi skirted the request - which he says came with a very sizeable cash incentive - by confirming he will retire at the end of the year, though Tanal still agreed to invest in the team at a tune of $18 million.

However, after the Prince said the money would be landing in VR46’s coffers this week, it has not materialised, according to GPOne.com, which is reporting the team has been told to now wait for it amid talk Tanal will withdraw its backing altogether.

Despite this, GPOne says VR46 supposedly has a ‘plan B’ and is now activating acquiring funds from alternative sources in which to compete next year without Aramco backing.

Who are Tanal Entertainment and why is it interested in MotoGP?

Anyone who has been watching F1 recently will now recognise Aramco. The oil giant - which saw income soar by an extraordinary 300% to £18bn during the second quarter of 2021 - has moved to give itself a significant presence in motorsport recently and is now the title backer for a number of grands prix.

This year will also see the inaugural F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while the nation has also recent hosted Formula E and the Dakar Rally.

While Saudi Arabia has been accused of ‘sportwashing’ to distract from what human rights organisations say are flagrant abuses in the country, the move is also seen as a way for the country to bolster its international tourism profile for when countries become less reliant on the oil from which it makes its fortunes.

Sponsoring VR46 Racing would have been the next stage in that development, but Rossi’s decision to retire rather than race could have led to a change in the agreement.

It is known the backers wanted at least one high-profile name on the bikes but will instead get Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi.

The impact will potentially be felt through the Ducati bikes the riders get to use, with the $18m likely to go towards securing a supply of GP22s, whereas without it will possibly make do with year-old GP21 machinery.