MotoGP

Valentino Rossi could be racing against his own team in the 2021 MotoGP season

Valentino Rossi could face rivalry from the team he set-up next season as VR46 Sky Italia suggest a deal to take over Avintia's entries and Ducatis

Valentino Rossi could race not only against three of his rider academy proteges - including his own brother - but the motorcycle racing legend may also go wheel-to-wheel with his own team if plans to bring his VR46 Sky Italia operation to MotoGP in 2021 come to fruition.

A few weeks ago rumours surfaced that Avintia Racing was looking for an exit from MotoGP at the end of the season, prompting interest from well-backed Moto2/3 teams VR46 Sky Italia and also Leopard Racing.

While Avintia boss Raul Romero was quick to deny rumours as just that at the time, there appears to have been change of heart recently, leading to ex-MotoGP/WorldSBK racer Ruben Xaus - who runs the team’s sporting operations - to reveal it is considering an offer from VR46 Sky Italia to buy its entries for 2021.

“It has been three months since rumours [started],” Xaus told MotoGP TV coverage.” When I came here to help Raul [Romero] two years ago, I saw many things I didn’t like and I said ‘if you want my help, I need to be strong and be inside the box’ to create a different situation."

“Now the team has been on the podium and we’ve seen it is difficult to renew those places because we don’t have a big budget so it’s [possibly] time to move apart and give the keys to someone else.

“Raul sees that, he has a good life in Andorra, so we offered the situation to the organisers, to investors and it seems the approach of somebody else is there and the possibility is on the table. Now we just need to check who and how [inaudible due to background noise].”

As it stands, VR46 Sky Italia would be more logical  -and cheaper - to wait another season (2022) when the next cycle of agreements with Dorna come into force, be it taking over from Avintia Ducati - when it is expected to depart MotoGP anyway - or being granted an additional two places on the grid. 

Why the change of heart for Avintia Racing?

Given this has been far and away Avintia Racing’s most competitive MotoGP season since it stepped up to the class under the CRT formula in 2012, it seems surprising the Spanish outfit would walk away now.

However, having benefited from the competitiveness of Johann Zarco - who claimed a historic pole and podium in Brno - and the finance it gains from Tito Rabat, Avintia has already lost the former to Pramac Ducati, while the latter - despite his confirmed 2021 deal - has intimated he may walk away anyway over a lack of competitiveness and motivation.

This quibbling has led to Rossi himself getting involved in negotiations to have Marini step into his place next year. As Marini races for VR46 Sky Italia already, this would go without saying should the entry change hands for 2021, with Enea Bastianini taking the other Ducati seat.

If Rabat walks away, Avintia will lose a lot of the foundation that allowed it to make such a step forward with a rider like Zarco.

Even so, there remain some conflictions about the direction the team may take with Romero quoted over the weekend as suggesting if Rossi wants Marini in Rabat's seat, he will need to make up the difference in financing lost by Rabat's exit.

And when you’re only team without a direct manufacturer association on a grid filled with factory teams and well-backed satellite operations, Avintia Racing is a relative small fish in a pond of sharks.
 

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