Do you remember the declaration, which we reported exclusively, by the FIM President Jorge Viegas who said: "Valentino's team will change Ducati for Yamaha in 2024. Nothing is confirmed yet, but this is the idea".
Obviously VR46, which has a signed contract with Ducati, immediately denied it outright. Then the matter went silent, but currently the fact is that Yamaha is the only manufacturer in the MotoGP scene to have only two bikes on the track. And currently the only 'free' team after 2023 is that of Gresini whose contract will expire at the end of the current season.
However, it is difficult for the Italian team, which won 4 Grands Prix with Bastianini in 2022, to decide to change sides.
There's more: Yamaha would like to bring the VR46 team back into the fold because this would bring two excellent young riders like Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi. Not that Di Giannantonio and Alex Marquez lack potential, but the Iwata-based company already has working relationships with VR46, which would therefore appear to be the best partner.
At the moment, however, the question is misleading because first Yamaha will have to be able to offer a competitive M1 bike. Will it succeed? And having done this, will it be able to change its image of a manufacturer capable only of exploiting satellite teams like a cash cow? After all, in a few years it has lost two teams: Tech 3 and RNF, also losing an interesting sponsor like Petronas.
“I don't want to comment on what Viegas said. I would just like everyone to respect his area of influence - said Lin Jarvis, Yamaha boss on our cousin website Motorsport.com - Obviously we would like to get back to having a satellite team as soon as possible, but there are several elements to consider. The first is that we have to have a competitive bike, to convince whoever it is that it's worth changing bikes. Then we have to be able to offer a good deal, with good support at all levels. And finally, we have to respect the contracts between the possible interested parties and their current suppliers. If we can't do it in 2024, we'll do it in 2025.”
The last sentence sounds a bit like the resignation of someone who has realized the difficulty of wresting the team of its icon-rider, Valentino Rossi, from the competition. But Jarvis also knows that the current MotoGP is no stranger to politics. And 'reasons of state' could also push Valentino, Uccio and company to accept a change of shirt. At this point we wish to be provocative: once with a team with Yamaha tuning forks on the tanks, how long will it take for Rossi to take over the entire management of the factory team?
For the moment, however, Lin has not yet raised the white flag.
“We work closely with VR46, they manage our Master Camp Moto2 team, we have a very close relationship with Valentino; he rode a factory Yamaha for 16 years in the MotoGP World Championship. Logic would say that this is a good direction to go. Valentino has two absolutely promising riders in Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini. And we support the VR46 Riders Academy with Yamaha bikes. It makes a lot of sense to go this route. But they have a contract with Ducati for 2024."
So let's say that the agreement could even go through, but only if Yamaha, in view of a long-term commitment, promises Rossi the management of the factory team.
After all, for everyone, Lin Jarvis included, it's time to retire sooner or later.