VR46 Racing reveals Ducati contender for inaugural 2022 MotoGP season

Valentino Rossi is on hand to reveal the Mooney VR46 Racing Ducati GP21s that will lead its maiden MotoGP World Championship bid

Moony VR46 Racing Ducati GP21, Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi, 2022 MotoGP, Valentino Rossi

The Valentino Rossi-owned Mooney VR46 Racing Team has officially launched its 2022 MotoGP World Championship campaign, its first in the premier class.

The final team to show its colours ahead of next weekend’s Qatar MotoGP opener in Losail, VR46 Racing - title backed by banking group Mooney - makes its debut in the wake of Rossi’s retirement from motorcycle racing after 26 years.

Founded by the nine-time GP World Champion in 2014 as an extension of the VR46 Academy rider programme, VR46 Racing debuted in the Moto3 class with an objective of fostering young Italian talent on the international stage in response to the influx of well-backed Spanish hopefuls.

Expanding out to Moto2 in 2017, VR46 Racing has enjoyed significant success in the intermediate class especially, winning the title in 2018 with Pecco Bagnaia, while its 2022 MotoGP pairing - Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi - were second and third overall in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Having dipped its toe into MotoGP waters last season by backing Marini’s rookie campaign with Avintia Racing, VR46 Racing essentially takes over the spot vacated by the outgoing Spanish team armed with a pair of year-old Ducati GP21s boasting a distinctive black and yellow livery reminiscent of the former Tech 3 Yamahas.

While it is a second campaign for Marini, who will be seeking a step forward in 2022 after struggling to sparkle alongside podium-winning team-mate Enea Bastianini, Bezzecchi is one of five rookies debuting this year with Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez, Fabio di Giannantonio and Darryn Binder.

A continuation of Rossi’s legacy in the shadow of his departure, while he will remain involved alongside his new racing duties in the GT World Challenge Europe series, managerial duties will be handled by team director Alessio ‘Uccio Salucci and team manager Pablo Nieto.

“This year, for the first time, we are doing MotoGP,” Rossi said. “It's a bit like closing a circle, but it's also nice to start another beautiful story in MotoGP. The bikes are very beautiful and now let's understand what the track tells us…"

One of two ‘new’ teams competing in 2022 - together with the freshly-independent Gresini Racing - VR46 Racing was originally expected to have substantial backing from Saudi oil giants Aramco in a deal thought to be worth as much as €18m.

However, it would transpire this would be dependent on Rossi himself competing for his own team, a stipulation he wouldn’t agree to, leading to the deal falling through.

The Mooney VR46 Racing Moto2 effort will be contested by Celestino Vietti and Niccolo Antonelli. The VR46 brand will also see a second Moto2 team under the 'Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team' featuring Manuel Gonzalez and Keminth Kubo.

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