VR46 Ducati 2022 MotoGP move confirmed… vacancy left for Valentino Rossi?

The Aramco VR46 Racing team confirms its entry for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season as Ducati calls on Valentino Rossi to join too

Luca Marini - VR46 Sky Racing Ducati Avintia

The Valentino Rossi-founded VR46 Racing team has officially confirmed it will step up to the MotoGP World Championship in 2022 after agreeing a deal with Ducati to become the latest satellite addition to its roster.

The Italian outfit brings with its a significant title sponsorship deal with Saudi oil firm Aramco, with Luca Marini expected to be confirmed as one of its two riders amid talk the second seat is being primed for Rossi himself.

Confirmation of VR46 Racing’s MotoGP arrival has been anticipated for several weeks, though talk of its plans to progress into the premier class have persisted for around 9 months when it was originally linked to a takeover of the existing Avintia Racing entry slots.

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Relations between the two parties became cosier with the signing of Rossi’s brother Marini, as demonstrated by the unique VR46 branding on his Ducati GP19. 

Though the announcement, which came via Ducati’s channels, stops short of confirming riders it does specifically namecheck both Marini and Rossi, no doubt raising speculation that the ultra-successful Italian will not only race on in 2022 but will leave Yamaha in the process.

While the specification of Ducati machinery hasn’t been revealed, VR46 - with its three year deal - is likely to feature higher in the pecking order than another recently confirmed Ducati satellite stablemate Gresini Racing with its two-year contract.

“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with VR46 for the next three years," said Ducati Corse general manager Luigi Dall’Igna. "The VR46 Riders Academy has always worked seriously and with great professionalism, giving many riders the opportunity to gain experience in Moto2 and Moto3, and today it can be proud to have brought three very talented young riders to MotoGP.

"VR46 has also shown that it knows how to manage its Team in Moto3 and Moto2 with competence and success and therefore we will strive to provide maximum technical support to their new Team in MotoGP, convinced that in VR46 we have found an ambitious and motivated partner like us, with the common goal of obtaining great results together."

VR46 Racing’s move into MotoGP comes seven years after the Rossi-founded outfit - which is aligned with his Italian-national focused VR46 Rider Academy - made its GP racing debut in Moto3.

Progressing to Moto2 in 2017, it won its first World Championship in 2018 courtesy of Pecco Bagnaia, who is one of three riders - together with Franco Morbidelli and Marini - from the VR46 Academy currently competing in MotoGP.

Meanwhile, Gresini Racing has been linked with becoming the oft-rumoured partner to Suzuki for a proposed satellite effort in 2024.