VR46 launched its two-fold attack on the MotoGP Championships for 2022 as Valentino Rossi unveiled the Mooney VR46 GP and Moto2 teams on Thursday.
Providing glimpses of both the team’s new livery, rider line up and a guided tour of Tavullia by Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi, Rossi introduced the next step in his illustrious Grand Prix history having guided the project for the coming year which will be run under the direction of Pablo Nieto and Alessio ‘Uccio’ Salucci.
An evolution from the VR46 rider academy started in 2014 by Salucci and Rossi, the team will run 2021 and 2022 Ducati Desmosedici’s for its full debut as an independent outfit in the premier class, after running a single bike for Marini in partnership with Avintia last season. Celestino Vietti and Niccolo Antonelli make up its Moto2 challengers with both having progressed through the academy ranks from Moto3, the latter making his intermediate class debut for 2022.
“It has been a long way since Moto3, but now we are ready to make our debut in MotoGP with a VR46 team and four young riders who I know will give their 100 per cent,” Rossi confirmed. “It is the closing of a circle for me and also for all the people who have worked with so much passion on this project over the years. At the same time it is a great debut and the beginning of a new chapter of this beautiful story in MotoGP. We are here thanks to the support of all our partners and I am happy to welcome Mooney: we met this winter at the Ranch, there was an immediate feeling and now we find ourselves here on this stage with these beautiful bikes with our colors.”
“I can only be satisfied to be part of this new project, which is not that new,” Team Director Saluccio continued. “A Team that has come a long way, thanks to the support of Sky Italia, a long apprenticeship between Moto2 and Moto3 and which step by step has reached MotoGP. A natural evolution to be able to follow the best talents of the VR46 Riders Academy even more closely. We saw Luca and Marco grow up. An important commitment in MotoGP, but which does not obscure Moto2 where we will continue to work because we believe it is preparatory for our riders. It was the right time to take up this challenge, a new chapter of this book always under the sign of the Italian spirit and the DNA of VR46 and Valentino who is 100% involved. He has always been innovative and here too there is his mark. Special thanks to all of our partners who continue to believe in this project and a welcome to Mooney, who joins our family as a title partner. Without their support it would not have been possible to arrive here, we hope to be able to really repay everyone for their trust in the best possible way.”
“It will be a very important season for me and the whole Mooney VR46 Racing Team: I have begun to become familiar with the new Ducati GP22 bike and to understand its potential in the last tests,” Marini said of his second year in MotoGP. “The feelings are more than positive, the goal is to be able to consistently stay in the top group, fighting for the top five and always stay in the top ten.
“I would like to arrive on the podium then, I know it’s a very ambitious goal but I have faith in my crew. The atmosphere is great, we had fun and I had a good time. I also really like the colours of the bike, they have always been those of the VR46.”
“Qatar is just a breath from now and I will have to learn to manage the positive pressure that will come,” Bezzecchi added. “It has been a long wait and the adrenaline is a lot now. I’m happy with how the tests went, of course I still have a lot to do, we have only done one race simulation so far and the first GPs will be challenging.
“I like the Team, they are close-knit and the atmosphere is good. The title of Rookie of the year is a great goal, more than anything else, I’d like to fight for it until the end. It will be special get out on the track on this bike: it has the colours of Valentino and the VR46 family and the Italian spirit of Mooney and Ducati.”