The Yamaha MotoGP effort gets a new look this weekend at Misano. Andrea Dovizioso, who had taken a sabbatical from racing after leaving Ducati last year, will debut as a rider for the Yamaha satellite team. Dovizioso’s contract extends through next year.
Meanwhile, Franco Morbidelli, who has been recovering from a serious knee injury and has missed several races, will move up to the Yamaha Factory team this weekend and take the spot vacated by Maverick Vinales. Morbidelli is contracted to be a full Factory Yamaha rider, and teammate to championship points leader Fabio Quartararo, through the 2023 series.
We understand that Dovizioso’s contract is directly with Yamaha, and that he will be riding the same, current factory M1 motorcycle used by the Factory team beginning next year. He will finish this year aboard an older M1 formerly ridden by Morbidelli.
Here are separate press releases from Yamaha for each of the riders, beginning with Andrea Dovizioso:
Misano Adriatico (Italy), 16th September 2021 – Following Franco Morbidelli‘s transfer to Yamaha‘s factory team, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce the signing of MotoGP star Andrea Dovizioso. He will be joining Yamaha‘s satellite team rider line-up for the remainder of 2021 and the entire 2022 MotoGP season.
The vastly experienced Italian is a three-time MotoGP Vice Champion and has many premier-class and lower-class achievements and victories to his name. He is known as a late-braker and one of the cleanest competitors in battle. Dovizioso is also no stranger to the YZR-M1, making him a perfect addition to the Yamaha rider line-up. He completed a successful season with a Yamaha satellite team in 2012, resulting in six third places and a fourth place in the final standings.
Yamaha as well as MotoGP fans the world over eagerly anticipate Dovizioso‘s return to action aboard a Yamaha YZR-M1 this weekend. The 35-year-old will start the second leg of his racing career with Yamaha on Morbidelli‘s former bikes. During the 2022 season he will be riding a factory-spec YZR-M1 and receive full support from Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING
“We are delighted that a MotoGP star and talent like Andrea is joining the Yamaha line-up. We warmly welcome him to the Yamaha MotoGP group as a very important member of our MotoGP programme.
“We have found ourselves in unprecedented circumstances this year that resulted in totally unexpected rider issues for both Yamaha teams. We experienced some unforeseen and unfortunate events, but we have been able to transform the problems into new opportunities.
“Andrea has been away from MotoGP for a short sabbatical, but we are certain that a rider of his calibre will soon find his speed again. We are really looking forward to working with him as a member of Yamaha‘s satellite team, and we will be supporting him in every way we can.”
PETRONAS YAMAHA SRT RIDER
“Racing with Yamaha has always been my dream, and that’s why when the opportunity arrived I did not think twice, although I know it’s going to be a tough challenge for me.
“I’ve got many things ahead of me to learn: a new bike, a new team, a new working system. It‘s a big challenge that starts at Misano, my home GP. This makes it even more exciting. I can’t wait to be aboard my M1!”
Date of birth: 23 March 1986
Place of birth: Forlimpopoli, Italy
First Grand Prix: Italian GP 2001 (125cc)
First Grand Prix Win: South African GP 2004 (125cc)
Grand Prix Wins: 24 (15x MotoGP, 4x 250cc, 5x 125cc)
Podiums: 103 (62x MotoGP, 26x 250cc, 15x 125cc)
Pole Positions: 20 (7x MotoGP, 4x 250cc, 9x 125cc)
Fastest Laps: 22 (11x MotoGP, 8x 250cc, 3x 125cc)
2020 MotoGP World Championship (4th – 135 points)
2019 MotoGP World Championship (2nd – 269 points) [Vice Champion]
2018 MotoGP World Championship (2nd– 245 points) [Vice Champion]
2017 MotoGP World Championship (2nd – 261 points) [Vice Champion]
2016 MotoGP World Championship (5th – 171 points)
2015 MotoGP World Championship (7th – 162 points)
2014 MotoGP World Championship (5th – 187 points)
2013 MotoGP World Championship (8th – 140 points)
2012 MotoGP World Championship (4th – 218 points)
2011 MotoGP World Championship (3rd – 228 points)
2010 MotoGP World Championship (5th – 206 points)
2009 MotoGP World Championship (6th – 160 points)
2008 MotoGP World Championship (5th – 174 points) [Top Independent Rider]
2007 250cc World Championship (2nd – 260 points) [Vice Champion]
2006 250cc World Championship (2nd – 272 points) [Vice Champion]
2005 250cc World Championship (3rd – 189 points)
2004 125cc World Championship (1st – 293 points) [World Champion]
2003 125cc World Championship (5th – 157 points)
2002 125cc World Championship (16th – 42 points)
Son of Antonio Dovizioso, a Sicilian motorcycle racer, Andrea Dovizioso was a natural riding motorcycles. His skills were first put to the test in the 125cc Italian Aprilia Challenge in 2000. In 2001 Dovizioso won the 125cc European Championship and also competed in his first World Championship race at Mugello, in which he had to retire.
Dovizioso made the big move up to the 125cc World Championship in 2002 and scored his first podiums in 2003, taking two second places and two third places. He followed it up with a first championship title one year later. A massive eleven podiums (5 wins, 5 second places, and 1 third place) earned him first place in the rankings and made his name known in the MotoGP paddock and recognised by motorsport fans the world over.
He spent the next three years in the 250cc class as a main protagonist, securing third, second and second respectively in the final standings, before moving up to the big league in 2008.
Dovizioso continued to showcase his undeniable talent during his rookie MotoGP season. His highlight was the third place at the Malaysian GP, and he ultimately secured the top Independent Team Rider title and fifth place in the overall classifications.
His first premier class victory came at Donington in 2009 when riding for Repsol Honda. He stayed with the team for four years, securing 16 podiums in total, and earned third in the overall standings in 2011 before moving to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.
Though his stint with Yamaha lasted only one year, it was successful. Dovizioso is one of the hardest riders to overtake on the brakes and one of the cleanest competitors in battle. This earned him third places to celebrate at Catalunya, TT Circuit Assen, the Sachsenring, Mugello, Indianapolis, and at MotorLand Aragón.
In 2013, Dovizioso moved on to Ducati, helping the manufacturer back to the top. After long seasons of hard work, the Italian was able to challenge for the World Championship down to the wire in Valencia in 2017 after a stunning six wins and two further podiums across the season.
For 2018, he hit the ground running to win the season opener, endured some harder races and then came back swinging – ending the year as runner-up once again. 2019 began in similar fashion with Dovizioso claiming nine podiums – including two wins – on his way to P2 in the overall standings for a third year in a row.
Many fancied Dovi for the title during 2020, however, there was to be no dream send-off from Ducati for the Italian who could only earn one victory and one third place during the season. He ended in fourth place in the final standings and announced his intention to take a sabbatical from MotoGP. It was short-lived though, as Yamaha persuaded him to join the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team as a replacement rider in 2021 and stay on as satellite team rider for 2022, much to the delight of his fans.
Misano Adriatico (Italy), 16th September 2021 – Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. are delighted to announce that Franco Morbidelli has signed with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team for the remaining races in 2021 and for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The Italian will make his long-awaited return after injury this weekend, debuting with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team at the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. He will be part of the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team‘s rider line-up for the upcoming five 2021 GP events and a full-time Factory rider in 2022 and 2023.
Morbidelli has shown great riding and motivation so far in his three seasons of racing with Yamaha in the MotoGP World Championship. The successful partnership led to a second place overall for the Italian in 2020, having secured five podiums including three victories that season.
The PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team rider‘s 2021 season was hampered by injury. He decided to have surgery on the meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on 25 June, causing him to miss the Dutch, Styrian, Austrian, British, and Aragon GP. After following a rehabilitation programme, Morbidelli is now ready to return to action.
This weekend, the 26-year-old will be reunited with former PETRONAS Yamaha SRT teammate Fabio Quartararo, this time as part of the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. He aims to use the remainder of the 2021 season to adapt to the new team surroundings and the 2021 Factory-spec YZR-M1, and gradually work up to 100% fitness level.
With two further years as a Factory rider on the horizon after the 2021 season, Morbidelli can count on Yamaha‘s full support and the opportunity to fight at the front for big milestones on many occasions.
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING
“First of all, we want to thank PETRONAS Yamaha SRT for allowing Franky to make his dream come true and letting him step up to the Factory team ahead of schedule. Originally, we had planned for Franky to move up from 2022 on, but following a sudden rider line-up change mid-season, we had the chance to let him upgrade early.
“Secondly, I want to give a warm welcome to Franky. He is an exceptional talent. This was even further highlighted last year when he secured second place in the championship and achieved five podiums and three wins on the satellite Yamaha. It shows the type of rider that he is: committed to extracting the best from the YZR-M1 under all circumstances.
“Naturally, we‘re thrilled that Franky will be back in the paddock and that he is well enough to start racing again. He will have to find his form gradually, in line with his physical improvements, as he is still recovering. We will be using the remainder of 2021 to get him settled in the team and comfortable on the bike.
“We have already locked down our plans for 2022 and 2023, with Franky receiving full Factory backing from Yamaha Motor Company. We feel certain that a skilled, calm, and experienced rider like Franky will strengthen the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team and will enjoy great success in the future.”
“I’m very pleased and happy about facing this weekend and this highly anticipated new chapter with the Factory Yamaha team. I’ve been trying to recover as much as possible for the final stage of this championship. I wanted to make my comeback at a track I know well and have great memories of, like Misano.
”I’m looking forward to jumping on the bike and starting my journey with the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. Of course, I need and I want to thank all the people who made this happen, starting with Ito-san, Lin, Maio, Sumi-san, the VR46 Riders Academy, and all other people who made this collaboration possible.”
Date of birth: 4 December 1994
Place of birth: Rome, Italy
First Grand Prix: San Marino GP 2013 (Moto2)
First Grand Prix Win: Qatar GP 2017 (Moto2)
Grand Prix Wins: 11 (3x MotoGP, 8x Moto2)
Podiums: 27 (6x MotoGP, 21x Moto2)
Pole Positions: 8 (2x MotoGP, 6x Moto2)
Fastest Laps: 14 (1x MotoGP, 13x Moto2)
2020 MotoGP World Championship (2nd – 158 points) [Vice Champion, Top Independent Rider]
2019 MotoGP World Championship (10th – 115 points)
2018 MotoGP World Championship (15th – 50 points)
2017 Moto2 World Championship (1st – 308 points) [World Champion]
2016 Moto2 World Championship (4th – 213 points)
2015 Moto2 World Championship (10th – 90 points)
2014 Moto2 World Championship (11th – 75 points)
2013 Moto2 World Championship (31st – only 3 races)
2013 European Superstock 600cc (1st – 154 points) [European Champion]
2012 European Superstock 600cc (6th – 74 points)
2011 European Superstock 600cc (17th – 32 points)
The son of a racer, Franco Morbidelli has been riding bikes since he was old enough to walk.
Franco Morbidelli‘s passion for motorcycles comes from his father Livio, an Italian ex-rider who built his son his first bike when he was just two years old. When Franco was young, the Morbidelli family moved from Rome to Pesaro, near Tavullia, where Franco‘s racing education started in the smaller Italian categories. After two years of success it led to a season of racing in Spain in the Cuna de Campeones series.
His next step was to move up to the European Superstock 600 Championship, winning the title in 2013. Morbidelli‘s good results in that series opened the door for three wildcard rides in the Moto2 World Championship (also in 2013) at the San Marino, Japanese, and Valencian Grand Prix.
The following season he was offered a full-time spot in the series, making gradual progress before finishing fourth in 2016 and then, after taking eight wins and twelve podiums, being crowned Moto2 World Champion in 2017.
Following his inaugural year in MotoGP in 2018, Franco joined the ambitious PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for 2019 and showed his talent again with the Malaysian squad. Achieving his personal best finish of fifth place four times and qualifying on the front row for three races.
In 2020, Franco delivered exceptionally well. Whilst his early season performance potential was masked slightly by some technical and contact issues, he came back strong in the latter part of the season to deliver three race wins and take second in the overall rider standings, finishing as top independent rider.
2021 would have been Franco‘s third season with the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team, but it was cut short due to a knee injury, a lengthy recovery process, and ultimately the Italian‘s step-up to the Yamaha Factory team.
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