Yamaha Satellite MotoGP Team Finalized: Petronas Becomes RNF, Signs Darryn Binder

The Petronas Saga is nearing its end. On Thursday, Yamaha announced that from 2022, the RNF team led by Razlan Razali will be taking over as satellite Yamaha squad, and fielding as riders Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder. The RNF Team has a contract with Yamaha for 2022, with an option to continue for two more seasons in 2023 and 2024. Binder has a contract for 2022, with an option for 2023.

This is the end point of a process which began at the Red Bull Ring in August, when Petronas announced they would be withdrawing sponsorship from the Petronas SRT team, forcing the team to completely reorganize. That also saw an end to the direct involvement of the Sepang International Circuit with the team, complicating matters even further.

These complications are rumored to have led to a dispute between the two principals involved in the team: Razlan Razali, former CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, and Johan Stigefelt, team owner of the Caterham Moto2 squad. The two had joined forces to allow them to compete in all three Grand Prix classes, but the exit of Petronas caused a power struggle inside the team.

That power struggle was eventually won by Razlan Razali. The Malaysian set up a new company in the United Kingdom to house the new team, RNF Racing Ltd, named using the initials of Razali's children. With that in place, RNF negotiated a new deal to supply MotoGP machinery for the 2022 season and beyond, with the backing of WithU, who have been supporting the Petronas team's MotoE effort, and been a minor sponsor to the team in other classes, as title sponsor. The RNF MotoGP team will retain most of the Petronas Yamaha SRT Team's staff, including team manager Wilco Zeelenberg.

The contract between Yamaha and RNF is surprisingly short term. It is initially for one year, 2022, with an option to renew for the following two seasons. Normally, contracts between teams and manufacturers tend to be three years or more, to ensure continuity and stability for both parties, but with RNF being a new outfit, an option allows both parties to hedge their bets.

One thing which the change of management has not been able to change is the contract Darryn Binder had for 2022 with the SRT team. When the Moto2 team was shut down, the younger Binder brother had a claim on the second MotoGP seat, alongside Andrea Dovizioso. Somewhat surprisingly, the list of candidates eager to take the second Yamaha seat was short, and so the RNF squad are set to go ahead with the 23-year-old South African from 2022, with an option for 2023.

Binder will become the first rider since Jack Miller to make the jump directly from Moto3 to MotoGP. The Australian was taken by Honda directly from Moto3 into MotoGP back in 2015, and put on an Open Class Honda RCV1000R, the bike with lower performance and spec electronics. Miller took a couple of years to adapt to the class, only really making a step forward when he switched to Ducati, despite winning a race in his second season at a soaking wet Assen. Binder faces a less formidable task, given the Yamaha is a much easier and rider-friendly bike than the Honda, making the transition to the MotoGP class less challenging. The Yamaha can be ridden with corner speed, which is key in Moto3, leaving more time to learn the extra skills - especially braking and lifting the bike up to get drive out of corners - needed to succeed in MotoGP.

The signing of Binder completes Yamaha's MotoGP line up for 2022, but raises questions about the future. There have been strong rumors linking Pata Yamaha rider and WorldSBK championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu to a ride in MotoGP, but sources in WorldSBK say that the Turkish rider is keen to focus on the production championship, and win multiple titles there before making the move over to MotoGP. Razgatlioglu is unlikely to switch to MotoGP before 2024.

Then there is Raul Fernandez. Yamaha made a big push for the Spanish youngster, after one of the most impressive rookie seasons in Moto2 since Marc Marquez. Their attempts to poach him from KTM caused KTM CEO Stefan Pierer to prematurely announce that Fernandez would be going to MotoGP, issuing a press release in the middle of a free practice session, rather than waiting until the Monday after the Styrian Grand Prix, when the announcement would have made more impact. Yamaha are believed to still be interested in Fernandez, while Fernandez has made no secret of his frustration with the situation, feeling that he has been press-ganged into the Tech3 KTM squad, despite having full factory backing and support. All the signs point to Fernandez defecting to Yamaha at the earliest opportunity, putting pressure on Franco Morbidelli to perform in the factory team.

The press releases appear below:


YAMAHA MOTOR COMPANY AND RNF MOTOGP TEAM SIGN AGREEMENT FOR 2022

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and RNF Racing Ltd. signed a one-year deal for the supply of YZR-M1 bikes to the newly branded RNF MotoGP Team in 2022, with options to extend the partnership for 2023 and 2024.

Misano Adriatico (Italy), 21st October 2021

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to confirm the signing of an agreement with RNF Racing Ltd. The freshly branded RNF MotoGP Team is set for a new era as part of the Yamaha line-up in 2022 and possibly 2023 and 2024.

Sepang Racing Team is rebranded RNF MotoGP Team, with former CEO of Sepang International Circuit and Team Principal Razlan Razali remaining at the helm. The team has signed a five-year deal with IRTA that sees the remodelled set-up continue participating as an Independent Team in the premier class of the FIM MotoGP World Championship until 2026.

The signed agreement between Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and RNF Racing Ltd. foresees the satellite team leasing Yamaha YZR-M1 motorcycles for 2022, with the option to extend the partnership for the 2023 and 2024 FIM MotoGP World Championship seasons.

LIN JARVIS
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with the now rebranded RNF MotoGP Team. When Razlan Razali and the Sepang Racing Team embarked on their MotoGP adventure at the end of 2018 and the start of 2019, nobody could have expected how they would take the premier class by storm. The impressive 2019 season and exceptional 2020 season results underline the professionalism and quality of this team that will soon be renamed RNF MotoGP Team.

"The core DNA of this team remains, so we are confident to continue with them as our official supported satellite team. Moreover, Yamaha has always been clear that it wants to continue to have four bikes in total on the MotoGP grid: two bikes in the Factory Team and two bikes in the Independent team.

"We will do our best to support the newly founded RNF Racing Ltd. to achieve their goals and to provide the stepping stone for future talents to enter into the world of Yamaha in MotoGP."

RAZLAN RAZALI
FOUNDER & TEAM PRINCIPAL, RNF RACING LTD

“We have today reached a historical milestone for the new RNF MotoGP Team. I would like to thank Yamaha for the trust and confidence given to me and the team for the upcoming season despite the changes that happened this year.

"The achievements that we have shared together in the first three years of our partnership with wins, podiums, pole positions, and awards has been memorable and motivates us towards greater heights.

"We have the experience from our past successes, supported by the same strong and passionate crew from our MotoGP garage, with a solid rider line-up, so we are set for a competitive comeback with Yamaha for the 2022 season."


DARRYN BINDER JOINS RNF MOTOGP TEAM RIDER LINE-UP FOR 2022

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is delighted to announce that Moto3 talent Darryn Binder will be joining Andrea Dovizioso in the rebranded RNF MotoGP Team. The South African will race for Yamaha‘s satellite team in 2022 with an option to stay on for the 2023 MotoGP season.

Misano Adriatico (Italy), 21st October 2021

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce the signing of Moto3 talent Darryn Binder. He will be joining Yamaha‘s rebranded RNF MotoGP Team‘s rider line-up for the 2022 MotoGP season, with an option to stay on for 2023.

Following two years of riding in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, the South African started his full-time Moto3 class career in 2015. That year Binder became a well-known name thanks to his brother (Brad Binder) who went on to become the 2016 Moto3 Champion. However, Darryn has since long proven that he is an exceptional racing talent in his own right. Known for his hard racing and making use of any and every available gap during a race, the 23-year-old has ridden to six Moto3 podiums so far, including a win at the 2020 Catalan GP.

Furthermore, Darryn Binder‘s eagerness, feistiness, and seven Moto3 seasons of experience make him a perfect teammate for the vastly experienced Andrea Dovizioso, as the rebranded RNF MotoGP Team start their new and exciting chapter.

LIN JARVIS
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

“I want to give a warm welcome to Darryn. We are delighted that he is joining the Yamaha line-up next year. We‘ve had many conversations about who would be a good match for the new RNF MotoGP Team set-up. It‘s a fresh start for the Yamaha satellite team and that makes it all the more fitting to have a young and eager rider like Darryn join them, as Fabio and Franky did before him.

“For Yamaha the primary mission of the satellite team is developing future MotoGP talents. Darryn has already shown on numerous occasions what he‘s made of in the Moto3 class. We know he is a fast and determined rider who has got what it takes to battle at the front of the pack. Obviously, the step up to MotoGP is significant and will take some adjusting, but we feel that he‘s ready, and Yamaha and the RNF MotoGP Team will fully support him for this new and exciting challenge.”

DARRYN BINDER
RNF MOTOGP TEAM RIDER

“I‘m extremely grateful for this opportunity, as it has been a lifelong dream to race in the MotoGP category. I definitely didn‘t expect to make the jump straight from Moto3 to the highest class, but I do believe I‘m up for the challenge, and I‘m ready to put in all the hard work for 2022.

“My target at the beginning will be just to find my feet in the big class and learn as much as possible to get stronger and stronger throughout my rookie season.

“I would like to say a really big ’Thank you‘ to Yamaha and the RNF MotoGP Team for everything they have done to make this possible as well as everyone who has been involved in getting me to this point.

“I‘m now just looking forward to riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time at the end of this season.”

Source: 

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Comments

I hate daytime drama TV.

Sorry let me clarify, I hate weekday daytime drama TV.

Sunday-at-2pm drama TV is a bit more interesting!laugh

Not confident that a direct jump to MotoGP from Moto3 is good, but having Dovi as a teammate to help with the learning curve should be productive. Dovi has been an excellent teammate his whole career so Darryn should feel pretty excited about his prospects. Hopefully, Razlan Razali is up to this new challenge. 

Initials of Razali's kids? I thought it meant Really Need Funds.

Or future line-up 'Razgatlioglu 'nd Fernández'

Until the VR46 team switches to Yamaha? WithU has been a pretty reliable VR46 sponsor....

It would be interesting to find out what reason behind the fall out between Razlan and Stiggy was, since it almost seemed like the whole team imploded this year.