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Maverick Vinales might not be heading to Aprilia for 2022 MotoGP after all

Maverick Vinales may be on his way out of Yamaha at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season but his destination for 2022 MotoGP isn't quite as clear

Maverick Vinales - Yamaha Factory Racing


While Maverick Vinales’ exit from Yamaha at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season has now been rubber-stamped, the lack of communication from his predicted Aprilia Racing destination has been somewhat conspicuous.

Following a flurry of rumours at the beginning of the Dutch TT weekend, Yamaha confirmed Vinales will indeed be on his way out of its team at the end of the season, a year earlier than his original contract stipulates. 

Those same rumours suggested a deal with Aprilia was imminent but silence from the Italian team heading into the summer break has given rise to talk that alternative plans are being formulated that could see Vinales on his way to VR46 Racing. 

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At Assen, VR46 Racing confirmed it will step up into the MotoGP class next season running Ducati machinery. Though it is yet to announce its riders, Luca Marini is expected to land one of the seats while VR46’s title backers - Saudi oil giants Aramco - are particularly keen to get owner Rossi on the other.

Rossi himself has been coy as to the prospect of severing ties with Yamaha to race for his own team, but paddock speculation suggests there is some pressure from Saudi Prince HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Saud for him to join.

In lieu of his own presence, Rossi is thus looking at the potential of bringing in another front-running rider, with Vinales - whom he has competed with at Yamaha since 2017 - potentially fitting that profile, according to GPOne.

However, this would raise the conflict of VR46 deviating from its ethos to develop Italian talent in MotoGP in order to appease sponsors. Indeed, Rossi launched the team - which started in Moto3 and has since gone on to win a Moto2 title - as an outlet of his VR46 Academy focused around Italian youngsters as a way of penetrating the Spanish dominance of the feeder categories.

Originally it was anticipated that Marini and Marco Bezzecchi would fill the seats if Rossi didn’t compete, but it seems the Saudi backers have their heart set on at least one storied rider.

Why Maverick Vinales may hold the key to VR46 Racing’s fortunes

The choice of rider may also make a difference as to which standard of Ducati machinery VR46 is able to get its hands on.

Ducati has already committed to supplying eight bikes in 2022 - the factory team, Pramac Racing, VR46 and Gresini Racing - but only the works outfit and Pramac are guaranteed to be using GP22 bikes.

Should Vinales come on board it would surely strengthen VR46 Racing’s bid to get its hands on at least one GP22, while the Spaniard would likely insist on this being the case should he sign on the dotted line.

While Aprilia presents a more esteemed option in terms of full factory support, there is a long held belief that Vinales on the Ducati would be a more viable match. 

However, while it could provide him with a route towards the factory Ducati team, he has some tough competition to measure himself against considering the form of Jack Miller, Pecco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco, plus the prospect in Jorge Martin.

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