Yamaha wasn't prepared for RNF defection, confirms only 2 bikes for 2023 MotoGP

Yamaha confirms it won't run a satellite effort for the 2023 MotoGP season, says it wasn't prepared for RNF Racing's decision to defect to Aprilia

Andrea Dovizioso - RNF Racing Yamaha

Yamaha Motorsports Director Lin Jarvis has confirmed the manufacturer will run only its factory bikes for the 2023 MotoGP World Championship after revealing it was not prepared for the news that RNF Racing was defecting to Aprilia next year.

The Malaysian outfit - which has operated as Yamaha’s satellite arm since taking over from Tech 3 Racing in 2019 - announced on Friday that it will switch to Aprilia machinery for the 2023 MotoGP season.

While it was known RNF Racing was considering its options amid speculation its close relationship the Yamaha had wavered since the exit of title sponsor and key financier Petronas at the end of 2021, Aprilia had previously played down talk of adding a satellite effort for 2022.

However, in a year that has seen its RS-GP emerge as a genuine race win contender, Aprilia used its home Italian MotoGP round in Mugello to confirm the deal in an announcement that a disgruntled Jarvis says caught Yamaha unawares.

“Of course, it’s never nice when you get to the end of a relationship. We have until the end of the season and we will remain partners [until then] together with RNF. But they took their decision to move to Aprilia for the future. 

“We respect that, but I was a little bit surprised with the announcement yesterday as the announcement was issued while we were in the meeting hearing their decision which was a little bit unusual. But we respect their decision and we’ll move on from there.”

No satellite Yamahas for 2023 MotoGP, VR46 for 2024?

The abruptness of the announcement means Yamaha - which is in the heart of a title battle with Fabio Quartararo - has been left with limited time to devote towards sourcing a replacement, 

As such, Jarvis has confirmed Yamaha will persevere with just its factory effort in 2022, all-but-confirming MotoGP will feature a 22-strong grid with no forthcoming replacement for the exiting Suzuki.

“It’s not an Ideal situation. At Yamaha we’ve had satellite teams as far as I can remember - we’ve always had more than two bikes on the grid.”

Beyond 2023, however, Yamaha will likely return to a two-pronged team effort, raising speculation it could lead to it renewing ties with Valentino Rossi via his VR46 Racing outfit.

The outfit is in the midst of its inaugural MotoGP campaign as one of four Ducati teams, in part because VR46 would have likely been forced to use year-old M1s, while it would have likely been behind any Petronas SRT team in Yamaha’s hierarchy when Rossi took his decision.

However, with RNF out of the picture now and VR46 with little opportunities to gain any more resource from Ducati alongside the likes of Pramac and Gresini, the path could be cleared for the Rossi name to return in Yamaha colours.