The RNF Yamaha team unveiled the livery of its Yamahas for the 2022 MotoGP season on Monday.
Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder unveil the first RNF Yamaha MotoGP bikes, ahead of the 2022 season.
The new WithU RNF Yamaha team unveiled the 2022 MotoGP livery for Andrea Dovizioso and rookie Darryn Binder during a launch ceremony – accompanied by opera – in Verona, Italy.
“I’m really ready for this season!” said Dovizioso. “I’m training a lot in the gym, on my Motocross bike. I removed the plate on my collarbone early December in order to feel better for this year. Everything is going well. I’m so happy to start this full season after five races of testing last year, which was very important to start early with the Yamaha, which is different to what I used the last eight seasons.
“I’m convinced that this will help me a lot to approach the tests and the races in 2022 in a better way. I know more about the bike, about the engineers and the team in general. The new colors are adding to the amazing overall picture and I’m looking forward to the test in Malaysia. The last two years we couldn’t ride there, so I’m really happy to go to Sepang.”
“The colours of my new bike are just beautiful!” added Binder.”Once you see the design and how everything is going to look like for the season, it just makes you so excited to get out and actually ride with the new livery and then you know the 2022 season is officially starting once the team launch has happened. I definitely can’t wait! It’s going to be so awesome, I’m very, very excited for my first season in MotoGP!
“Our goal is just to take it step by step. Obviously, it’s a big jump from Moto3 to MotoGP and I only want to take it gradually and build up as high as I can. I don’t want to do anything too crazy, but rather take one step at a time and go up slowly, but surely. I’m really excited, now I can’t wait for the Sepang test to get everything going!”
Although 2022 will technically be the RNF team’s inaugural MotoGP season, it has been born out of the ashes of the former Petronas SRT project, which took six wins (the first for a satellite M1 team) and 15 podiums with title leader Fabio Quartararo and eventual title runner-up Franco Morbidelli during its opening 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
Despite such success, the simultaneous withdraw of Petronas and separation from the Sepang Circuit forced SRT to close its doors at the end of 2021, when Morbidelli was sidelined by a knee injury after one final SRT podium and Quartararo’s replacement Valentino Rossi struggled to feature at the front.
The initial intention was to keep the SRT’s MotoGP team intact and return ‘rebranded’ for 2022, but a management split between team principal Razlan Razali and team director Johan Stigefelt ultimately saw Razali go it alone by founding the new RNF project.
The vital MotoGP grid places were transferred to RNF by Dorna, followed by confirmation of an initial one-year deal with Yamaha and title sponsorship from Italian energy company WithU.
Key figures such as team manager Wilco Zeelenberg and crew chief Ramon Forcada also remain on board, with Razali telling Crash.net he is targeting a budget of 11-13 million euros to maintain the high level of presentation seen at SRT.
“I’m very excited to start the 2022 season with a new chapter for the whole group,” said Zeelenberg. “We closed the old one, but closing chapters always means opening new episodes and to start this new project with the RNF team is of course again a huge challenge. A big part of the group remained, some people of the crew, especially on the side of Darryn, are also new. We’ve got a new crew chief, a new data engineer and new mechanics.
“We have new material, a new hospitality, new trailers, so we will replace a lot, but at the same time, a lot will remain. We’ve got two new riders, one experienced rider with Andrea and a rookie with Darryn, which is something we have been doing before, but each season is a new challenge. Yet, we are looking forward to it. The bike looks very nice, although we know it’s not just about the glance. We’ve created a nice balance with colors and we can’t wait to start the 2022 season!”
15-time MotoGP race winner Dovizioso was parachuted into SRT for the closing five rounds of last season, after Morbidelli’s promotion to the factory team in place of Maverick Vinales.
A triple title runner-up for Ducati, Dovizioso took a best finish of twelfth on Morbidelli’s two-year-old M1 as he reacquainted himself with a bike he last raced back in 2012 for Tech3.
The oldest rider on the grid after Rossi’s retirement, 35-year-old Dovizioso will be upgraded to the latest 2022 factory-spec M1 this season, as used by reigning champion Quartararo and Morbidelli at the Monster team.
“Of course, some fans or sceptics will compare and say [Dovizioso] could be another season like Valentino,” Razali told Crash.net recently. “But people forget that we got Valentino when he was 42. Dovi is 35. If you look at where Valentino was when he was 35, he was still at the peak.
“So I think it’s a totally different comparison. It’s a valid one because he is now the oldest guy on the grid, slightly older than Aleix . But Dovi’s done a lot in his days at Ducati. Three times vice-champion. He was with Tech3 on the Yamaha before. And most importantly he had the five races last year.
“Yes, it was on a two-year-old bike, but I think it gives him the feel and the competitiveness is back. He was not pushing, but now with the same package as the factory guys I think he could be one of the riders that can fight for the championship.”
Rookie Binder, who like Dovizioso is contracted directly to Yamaha, finds himself under the spotlight as the first rider since Jack Miller in 2015 to jump straight from Moto3 to MotoGP, bypassing Moto2 entirely.
While he hasn’t raced bigger bikes, the South Africa is not short on Grand Prix-level experience, having spent seven seasons in the Moto3 class (compared with three for Miller) and, at the age of 24, is older than Quartararo.
“What we saw with Darryn for the one year he was with us [at SRT] is a very good attitude, very disciplined, a nice person – okay, being a nice person does not make you win! – but with his physical build he is too big for a Moto3 and Honda’s Moto3 has a power disadvantage compared to the KTM. That was very clear,” Razali had said of Binder.
“So he had that disadvantage. But the way he fought back every race; within 1-2 laps he was already in the front group. He was overtaking on the inside, outside. It was unlucky for him to crash into Dennis Foggia [at Portimao].
“But the way he raced last year we thought if this guy is given an opportunity on a bigger bike, a package like Yamaha, he can do something magical. So that’s the potential that we saw in him.”
Binder will take to the track with his new RNF colours during the Sepang Shakedown Test, which he is eligible to take part in as a rookie, on January 31-Febrary 2.
Dovizioso will then join him on track for the Official Sepang Test on February 5-6, after which only one more test, at the new Mandalika Circuit, will take place ahead of the Qatar season-opener on March 4-6.
Today’s launch also saw the presentation of the RNF-GRT MotoE team, which will field former MotoGP riders Bradley Smith and Niccolò Canepa.
Yamaha RNF Team unveils 2022 MotoGP livery Yamaha RNF Team unveils 2022 MotoGP livery Yamaha RNF Team unveils 2022 MotoGP livery