VR46 MotoGP team explains why Aramco deal collapsed

Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Racing team boss Pablo Nieto has explained that its alleged title sponsorship deal with Aramco collapsed “because of the timing” of the contract. 

VR46 MotoGP team explains why Aramco deal collapsed

MotoGP legend Rossi’s team will step up to the premier class in 2022, having previously raced in Moto2 and Moto3, and ran Luca Marini’s side of the Avintia garage in 2021.  

When VR46’s MotoGP step up was first announced, it was done so via Saudi Arabian company Tanal Entertainment – who at the time said oil giant Aramco would sponsor the team.  

Aramco denied this in a statement issued to Autosport, saying: “Aramco confirms that it has not signed a strategic agreement with the MotoGP VR46 team or any of MotoGP’s other affiliates.  

“Aramco has never had a commercial relationship with Tanal Entertainment, MotoGP or any MotoGP team.” 

VR46 and Rossi insisted for much of 2021 that a deal with Aramco had been agreed, but announced at the start of 2022 that its title sponsorship would come from Italian banking company Mooney.  

When asked by Autosport following VR46’s official 2022 launch event on Thursday why its Aramco deal fell through, team boss Nieto claimed a deal was signed but collapsed due to timing issues. 

“Yeah, like everyone knows we signed a contract with them,” Nieto said in regards to Aramco.  

“But I think the timing was completely different than the things we needed.  

“So that’s why we decided to continue our line, let’s say, and then we found Mooney.  

“It’s really important for us, because like everyone knows we already signed the contract with Aramco.  

“But in the end we know it was so difficult because of the timing. But as I say, it was because of the timing.” 

Aramco

Aramco

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

VR46 enjoyed a strong end to pre-season testing in Indonesia earlier in February, with Marini the fastest Ducati rider on his 2022-spec bike in third on the combined order.  

Looking ahead to the coming 2022 season, which starts on 6 March in Qatar, Nieto hopes VR46’s first year in MotoGP can continue the same “DNA” as it had in Moto2. 

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“We make a very good test,” Nieto added. 

“I think it’s important because we make a completely new team, also we take a lot of young people for the team because I think it’s really important for us to have young riders, young people.  

“So, it’s like a warm-up for us a little bit.  

“But we know our goals, we know we can make a good season.  

“We know Luca has more experience with the MotoGP bike, and then Marco [Bezzecchi] arrives as a rookie.  

“I think we can make a very good season because we can work together, and I want to continue to work with the same DNA as we had in the past in Moto2.” 

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