Valentino Rossi hails 'superhero' Pedro Acosta but denies VR46 MotoGP leap talk

Valentino Rossi reckons Pedro Acosta will become the new 'superhero' of GP racing but plays down talk of him making Moto3-to-MotoGP leap with VR46

Pedro Acosta, Valentino Rossi.jpeg

Valentino Rossi has played down rumours emerging over the Catalunya MotoGP weekend that his VR46 Racing team is targeting Pedro Acosta for an unprecedented jump from Moto3 to MotoGP.

While Rossi is busy mulling over whether or not to hang up his helmet at the end of the season as a rider, plans for his VR46 Racing set up are gathering momentum for what will be its inaugural season in the top flight next year.

With the official confirmation imminent having agreed a deal to run Aramco-sponsored Ducati machinery, attention is turning to which riders will be campaigning the pair of Desmos.

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Among the candidates emerging in Spain was that of 17-year old Acosta, the rookie sensation that has established a fairly sizeable advantage in the Moto3 World Championship.

The young Spaniard’s name has crossed the lips of the great and good in MotoGP recently after reeling off a trio of consecutive wins from his second-ever GP race. Though results in the last three races haven’t been so sparkling, he remains 39 points clear in the overall standings as Moto3 throws up its usual unpredictability of bunched races and dashes to the finish line.

As it stands, Acosta competes under the KTM umbrella via the Ajo Motorsport team in Moto3 and the Austrian firm will no doubt be keen to pin the teenager down for him to trace a route that has achieved success through Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira and recently confirmed MotoGP graduate Remy Gardner.

However, there has been talk of him bypassing all of this with a move into MotoGP for 2022, an option KTM is unlikely to match given an already established hierarchy that includes the impressive Raul Fernandez.

Which gives rise to whether VR46, with its young rider slant, could be present an opportunity. However, while he considers Acosta to be the sport’s new ‘superhero’, he will not be VR46 bound any time soon.

“I read about it, but it’s not true,” he said over the weekend. “Surely we are happy. Pedro Acosta is the new superhero, but no. I think we will continue with our project, with our Riders Academy riders.

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Indeed, VR46 might be tempted had Acosta come with an Italian passport. Ignoring question marks over whether such a rapid move into MotoGP would be a good thing, Acosta won’t ride with VR46 because he is simply Spanish. 

VR46 was set up by Rossi to nurture the skills of young Italian racers with the express intention of diluting the ‘Spanish Armada’ of talent that filters from its well-established GP-racing style feeder programmes.

Moreover, though there are examples of riders leaping from Moto3/125 to MotoGP, a rider like Acosta in MotoGP for 2022 would be unprecedented. Taking the example of the last rider to move from Moto3 to MotoGP - Jack Miller - he had completed three seasons of Moto3 racing before getting the call by Honda and even then that was a CRT-spec LCR machine. Acosta by contrast is just seven races into his GP career and has just turned 17.

The VR46 programme has been a roaring success for Rossi beyond his own racing credits, with Franco Morbidelli, Pecco Bagnaia and Marini all graduating to MotoGP from it. These words from Rossi would appear to suggest a seat is being warmed for VR46’s ‘next in line’ Marco Bezzecchi, currently third in the Moto2 standings.

As for the other seat, Sky VR46-sponsored Avintia Ducati rider - Rossi’s brother - Luca Marini would be expected to retain one of the seats, even if the Italian rookie isn’t enjoying a stellar maiden MotoGP season during which he has been largely out-performed by his team-mate Enea Bastianini.