Official: Petronas Ends Sponsorship Of SRT Team, New Structure To Be Created

Petronas are to end their sponsorship of the Sepang Racing Team at the end of 2021. The news had been reported for a couple of days, but this morning, an official press release came from the Sepang International Circuit announcing the news officially.

Petronas had been title sponsor to the team since 2018, when they only had teams in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. The next year, they increased the  budget to allow them to expand into MotoGP. Three seasons later, they are pulling out of sponsorship once again.

The consequences of this have yet to be announced. The team is set to make an official announcement at Silverstone, in two weeks time. But the team is expected to be reducing their presence in the MotoGP paddock to just the MotoGP team, closing their Moto2 and Moto3 teams.

Alongside big news about Petronas ending their sponsorship, the press release contains a statement which could turn out to be almost as significant. "The team is expected to make an announcement regarding its continuation in MotoGP™ from 2022 onwards under a new independent entity," the press release reads. Just what this entails is not entirely clear, but it would seem to suggest that the team will be severing its ties with the circuit.

The team was first launched back in 2014, as the AirAsia Caterham team, run by Johan Stigefelt with backing from Malaysian budget airline AirAsia, fielding riders Johann Zarco and Josh Herrin. The team was then bought out by the Sepang International Circuit ahead of the 2015 season, where they diversified into the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, with the objective of bringing Malaysian riders into the class.

That objective has been hard to realize. After a string of Malaysian riders, including Hafizh Syahrin and Zulfahmi Khairuddin, this year, they have no Malaysian riders at all, preferring to challenge for wins and championships in all three classes. That seemed like a solid strategy, given the results of the 2020 season, but it has not played out that way. A switch back to supporting Malaysians is difficult, with so few obvious talents on the horizon.

The situation has been compounded by the difficult financial straits that Sepang, like all major race tracks, find themselves in. The global pandemic has caused large-scale public events to be closed down, devastating the incomes of race tracks and other sporting arenas. If the SRT team is not developing Malaysian talent, and the circuit is in financial difficulties, it makes little sense to retain the racing team.

We will have to wait until Silverstone to get full details of what the future will look like for the team.

The press release from Sepang International Circuit appears below:


14 August 2021 - Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd (SIC) and PETRONAS wish to announce today that both parties have mutually agreed to end their partnership in relation to the Title Partnership of the PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team. The partnership will end at the conclusion of the 2021 MotoGP™ season.

PETRONAS has been the Title Partner to SIC since 2018, through the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing in Moto2™ and Moto3™. The project was expanded to MotoGP™ in 2019 via PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.

Further to this development, the team is expected to make an announcement regarding its continuation in MotoGP™ from 2022 onwards under a new independent entity.

Chief Executive Officer of SIC, Azhan Shafriman Hanif said, “SIC wishes to thank PETRONAS for the unwavering support during the partnership and a remarkable journey together. We respect PETRONAS’ decision, and mutually agreed that this partnership has accomplished its purpose and objectives. We have enjoyed a meaningful partnership, with great achievements and memorable moments with the team. I believe this is not the end of our collaboration in motorsports as we continue our quest in nurturing Malaysia’s motorsports talents.”

“SIC is proud to have been involved in the formation and early development of the team that had surpassed expectations in its performance. We wish the team all the best in the next phase of its evolution under a new entity.”

PETRONAS’ Head of Strategic Communications, Datin Anita Azrina Abdul Aziz said, “We entered into this partnership with SIC to showcase our R&D capabilities, and we are proud that PETRONAS Fluid Technology Solutions have been instrumental towards establishing the team's status as a championship contender. Together, we have created some standout moments in the sport, serving as an indication that we have achieved what we set out to do and we feel it is the right time for us to conclude the partnership. On behalf of PETRONAS, we would like to express our gratitude to SIC for their commitment towards ensuring the success of the partnership.”


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